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Gophers Beat Badgers 5-2 in Border Battle

Border battle ends in split decision

(MHM Photo / Carson Mark)

Border battle ends in split decision

Minneapolis, Minn. — Travis Boyd said he was embarrassed by the result on Friday night. The senior center took charge Saturday by potting two goals, an assist, and was a leader in Minnesota’s (11-7-2) 5-2 win over Wisconsin (2-13-3) in front of 10,834 at Mariucci Arena.

“I’m not a captain, but being a senior I think you have to step up and be a leader. I thought all together the senior class had a good game tonight,” said Boyd. “Christian Isackson had a goal, Sam [Warning] played well, Kyle [Rau] always brings it, [Seth] Ambroz was good, and [Ben] Marshall was good too. So overall as a senior class we all had good games tonight and I definitely think that’s part of the reason we had a good result.”

The Gophers in the middle of a 3-6-2 stretch came into this weekend with a reshuffled lineup. Don Lucia split longtime pairs Kyle Rau and Hudson Fasching, Travis Boyd and Seth Ambroz, and Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata. The decision produced 49 shots on goal and 91 shot attempts Friday night, but only two goals and a tie. The coach decided to hold his lines going into the rematch.

“You play with energy, you play hard, it really doesn’t matter who you play with,” said Lucia. “That’s really the bottom line. Tonight we played pretty intelligent. We didn’t make the big breakdowns like we did Friday night.”

Boyd in particular stood out on the big ice of Mariucci Arena. Lucia noted that the senior center knew he was one of the guys directly responsible for that line change goal last night.

“I think as a senior he took it to heart, and came out and had a great game tonight,” said Lucia. “I told the guys in our meeting we had 27 shots in the good scoring areas last night and they had seven. So just stay with it, stay with the process, every season is a journey and this journey has meandered a bit, but at some point you got to find your game.”

Minnesota outshot Wisconsin 50-26 in front of Mariucci’s biggest crowd of the season, but it wasn’t the quantity of shots that was the difference.

“We wanted to be really hungry around the blue paint. Like Coach Guentzel said this morning I want you guys to be like piranhas around the net, get to the net and bury ‘em hard,” said Connor Reilly. “We wanted to focus on taking away [Rumpel’s] eyes and when we were in the blue paint we had to find the rebounds, we can’t be getting our sticks lifted up by their defensemen.”

Minnesota’s top ranked power play took advantage of an early first period opportunity. The unit worked the puck up top from Mike Reilly to Connor Reilly for a one-timer. Badger goalie Joel Rumpel spilled the rebound to the left wing circle, and Boyd pounced on it for his eighth of the season at 4:30.

Missouri native Sam Warning had a hat trick last year on Hockey Day Minnesota, and came through again this year with some scoring. The senior patiently pulled the puck across the top of crease and tucked it past the goalie for his seventh of the season at 12:51 into the first period.

Boyd got his second goal of the game by jamming away at the puck after a Warning shot wasn’t handled cleanly by Rumpel. The play went to video review and was confirmed a good hockey goal for Boyd’s ninth of the season.

“[The referee] said it was very clear on the video what happened,” said Mike Eaves. “You have to trust them. This is what they’re hired to do and they’re honest guys. If they see it that way, they have to call it as they see it. “

Connor Reilly scored his team leading 11th goal of the season at 1:56 of the second period when he bombed a one-timer off a Kloos pass into the net making it 4-0.

Isackson tallied his first goal of the season 7:36 into the second period. He collected the puck off a Vinni Lettieri shot behind the net and converted on a wrap-around move for the Gophers fifth goal.

Grant Besse continued a good weekend of play by getting the Badgers on the board late in the period. The sophomore’s line had a strong shift coming off of an Eaves’ timeout and he shoveled home the puck loose in the crease at 15:27.

The third period contained the fireworks of two teams getting frustrated with each other after 110 minutes of hard hockey. The teams combined for 88 penalty minutes including five 10-minute misconducts and two contact to the head majors.

“I saw my brother Mike jumping in there—that’s surprising,” said Connor Reilly. “It’s good to see him get in there, and all the guys just sticking up for each other, it shows we care for each other.”

Coming out of the penalties Wisconsin took advantage of a long 5-on-3 stretch as Besse scored his second of the night and third of the weekend at 17:12 to make the score 5-2.

Minnesota heads into an important North Star College Cup next weekend. They’ll face top ranked Minnesota State at Xcel Energy Center and then either #5 Minnesota-Duluth or St. Cloud State. Wisconsin continues their schedule with a series against Michigan before both teams meet in Madison the following weekend.

“Now we can’t play North Dakota, this is kind of the number one rivalry,” said Boyd. “Especially with how it ended it’s kind of like a rivalry reborn. Last couple years we haven’t had any games like that, it makes the games more fun to play in.”

Eric Vegoe is a writer based in Minneapolis who has written for Hockey's Future, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and has been published in the Chicago Tribune. He has covered the University of Minnesota men's hockey team since 2007 for GopherPuckLive. Follow him on Twitter at @evegoe.

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