13-2. You read that right.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers outscored the Wisconsin Badgers 13-2 in the two teams’ series at the Kohl Center last year. The Badgers were thoroughly outclassed by the Gophers over 120 minutes in Madison a season ago.
Jump-cut to Friday night and the loss is not nearly as sour, with that context. If you were to contrast how the guys in the cardinal and white sweaters did on Friday versus how they did against the Gophers at home last year, you’d think the series’ were four years apart…not one.
Wisconsin went to the first intermission down a pair of goals thanks to Mike Szmatula and Leon Bristedt. If you haven’t been watching too much of the 2016-17 Badgers, you may have conceded that the game might turn into one of the games a year ago, but not with these Badgers. Despite only a year going by, this team looks completely different. This is a fun, exciting, vintage Badger hockey team.
Wisconsin scored two goals back-to-back, tying the game in the second period at 2-2. Luke Kunin and Matt Ustaski scored for the Badgers.
The most hope-inspiring aspect of this game was the fallout from Minnesota’s goal in the last minute of the second period, which gave the Gophers a 3-2-lead going to the third. The Badger teams of the past two years would have folded after such adversity, but not these guys. The Badgers played with grit and venom, controlling large parts of the third. Wisconsin got its equalizer via Trent Frederic 9:21 into the frame. The Badgers closed the third peppering the Minnesota goal to end of regulation.
Minnesota got the overtime winner thanks to Gopher stud Justin Kloos, ending the Badgers chance for a Friday night upset. But despite the loss, this Badger team has a vintage look and is on the way back to the success that this program is known for.
The Badgers have another chance at the Gophers Saturday night. Face-off from the Kohl is 5:00 CT and can be seen on Fox Sports North.