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MADISON, WIS. – Through the first period and a half of game one in Wisconsin, the Gophers looked like the much better team. Firing pucks from every angle and playing a strong physical game, the Gophers had themselves a 2-0 lead halfway through the second.
But the Gophers’ defensive game caught up to them as Corson Ceulemans, the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, recorded his first collegiate goal on the power play in period two.
Just 17 seconds later, Jack Gorniak was found standing all alone in front of the Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine. Gornaik’s second goal of the year tied it at 2-2 with just 6:03 remaining in the second.
“We made too many mistakes tonight and it cost us,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “There’s nothing more than you can say. We gave the Badgers a bunch of goals tonight. You can’t do that, especially on the road.”
The Badgers had all the momentum after tying it with two quick goals and were set to head to the power play when Gophers defenseman Brock Faber was called for a delayed penalty.
Jared Moe the Badgers goaltender, headed to the bench for the extra attacker. As he did so, Liam Malmquist controlled the puck in the offensive zone, while looking for a pass Malmquist dropped it off to the point. Little did he know, nobody was there. The puck slid the length of the ice and found the back of the empty net.
Aaron Huglen was credited with the odd goal and the Gophers regained the lead with 2:38 remaining.
Clearly, goalscoring runs in the Caufield family as Brock, older brother of the 2021 Hobey Baker winner Cole, worked his way past three Gophers and ripped one past LaFontaine just over two minutes into the third period.
The Gophers’ defensive mistakes continue, as Caufield again gets shot out of a canon and beats LaCombe to eventually send the Badgers home with a win. A slapshot from the slot on a partial breakaway and Caufield scored his second of the game.
Brock Caufield was able to erase Malmquist’s mistake and give his team their second straight Big Ten win. “I’m happy the team battled back,” Malmquist said. “We stuck with it the whole game and Brock finished it off there in overtime. I can laugh about it now but hopefully, that never happens again.”
Gophers Able To Split The Series With A 4-1 Win On Saturday
The message was clear from Motzko to his Gophers following the 4-3 overtime loss in Friday’s game, stop the glaring defensive mistakes. The Gophers answered in game two and ultimately played a much better overall game.
Coming out firing quickly for the second straight game, Minnesota started with a 2-0 lead. Just six minutes in Matthew Knies picked up the loose puck off the boards and tailed his fourth goal of the year.
Just over two minutes later, Aaron Huglen scored his second of the series. This time he worked around a couple of Badgers and stuck with it to pull off a dandy of a goal.
— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) November 7, 2021
Under seven minutes later, Jaxon Nelson recorded his second of the year on the power play from Knies and Meyers.
In the final minutes of the first period, Jack LaFontaine was helped off the ice after colliding with a Badger forward in motion. Justen Close entered the game on the penalty kill and stopped all three shots he faced.
Good news for the Gophers though, who have been bitten by the injury bug early this season, Lafontaine returned for the start of the second period and ended the night as the winning goaltender.
Just 51 seconds into the second period Rowan Ahcan picked up his 30th career goal on the power play and first of the season. As we have seen before, Gophers captain Sammy Walker answered 16 seconds later with his fifth of the year.
Since returning, LaFontaine stood on his head stopping 34 out of 35 eventually getting the win. It was a great bounceback win for the Gophers as they improve their record to 6-4-0 and 3-1-0 in the Big Ten.
Minnesota will return back home at Mariucci to open four home games kicking off with two against Ohio State. Friday at 6:30 and Saturday at 5:00.