Gophers Come Out Of Wisconsin With A Split After A 3-1 Loss To The Badgers

February 11th, 2023: Gophers hand Wisconsin their fourth Big Ten win of the year in the 3-1 loss to the Badgers. 

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Jimmy Snuggerud became the first Gopher freshman to record 40 points in a season since Kyle Rau did back in 2011-2012. But unfortunately, that was the only positive out of tonight’s game.

Other then Snuggerud scoring, Brody Lamb was all over the place tonight, in a good way. Lamb had an expected goals total of .964 and had two shot assists which was the highest on the team. Lamb played a good game yesterday on the fourth line which had him move up to the third line tonight.

“Brody Lamb was outstanding tonight,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said. “As he gets stronger he will continue to be a big player for us.”

Mike Koster got the game’s first goal with about a minute and 30 seconds in the first period. But one minute and 11 seconds later Cruz Lucius tied the game at 1-1. After Lucius scored with 21 seconds left in the first the Gophers got their momentum completely taken away from them.

Koster’s goal came off a zone entry. Logan Cooley walked into the offensive zone and dropped one back to Snuggerud. The freshman forward then redirected Cooley’s pass on the blade of Koster’s stick and the junior defender ripped one home from the point.

Wisconsin opened the second period with a couple of quick shots but Justen Close, who was outstanding yesterday, stood tall. Just halfway into the second period, the Badgers rattled off three shots and with a mad scramble in front and Close lying on his back, the Badgers still didn’t score.

Jaxon Nelson picked up the loose puck in the slot and had a clear-cut breakaway from the defensive zone all the way to the net but his little stop to look around slowed him down and he got caught up too. Nelson eventually got a shot off but it wasn’t dangerous.

Wisconsin then went all the way back into the zone and fired a shot, Not long later Daniel Laatsch recorded his first goal of the season which gave the Badgers a 2-1 lead.

The Gophers answered back with multiple shots and later got a goal from Connor Kurth. John Mittelstadt and Charlie Strobel were scratched yesterday but both got in tonight. Strobel hasn’t played a game since January 14th but tonight he made an impact defensively and physically.

Mittelstadt forced a turnover on a Badger defender and then entered the zone. His shot was blocked and got deflected onto the stick of Ryan Chesley. Kurth picked up the deflected puck off Chesley and ripped one home to tie it at 2-2.

But Tony Granato challenged for two-many men. After reviewing the play you could see Logan Cooley was going off for a change. He had one leg over the boards and one leg on the bench but when the puck was touched by Mittelstadt the referee’s called it no goal after review because Cooley’s skate was on the ice.

Even though it wasn’t and Bob Motzko was livid.

“They said they had a view from behind the net,” Motzko said on what the refs told him after they waived off the goal. “Our guy was coming over the boards so I didn’t have a good view but that’s not the reason we lost tonight. It sure would’ve helped to get that goal but Wisconsin played extremely hard and deserved to win.”

Four minutes later another disaster shift by the Gophers lead to a Badgers goal. It started when the Nevers-Nelson-Brodzinski line failed to get a shot off after entering the zone. Brodzinski coughed the puck up and the Badgers entered the Gophers’ zone and later scored.

Nelson got back fast but a slow back check by Brodzinski made Nelson cover two Badger players and that was just enough separation for Carson Bantle to score his seventh goal of the year making it 3-1.

Yesterday the Gophers had one of their worst first periods of the season but quickly tuned up their sloppy play with a good second period and a great third period. Tonight it just seemed sloppy all night. Every goal the Badgers goal seemed to be on a glaring mistake by someone and the Gophers just couldn’t recover.

They will have to wait until next weekend when they take on Penn State on the road to try and clinch their second straight Big Ten regular season title.

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