MINNEAPOLIS — Better late than never.
Among Golden Gophers players, that sentiment undoubtedly crept into their mind as a four goal outburst — a total virtually unheard of in a season where they will most likely set the school record for offensive futility — buoyed them to a big 4-2 upset win over the arch-rival Badgers at Mariucci Arena.
Two power-play goals provided the winning margin.
The four goal outburst from the Gophers ended an eight game stretch where they scored two or less goals and limped to a 1-3-4 record. Conversely, No. 12 Wisconsin had not given up four goals in their last eight games going 4-2-2 in the stretch.
“I am happy for the kids,” commented Don Lucia on his teams success. “It’s just nice to score more than 1 goal.”
The win was critical to Minnesota as their recent skid landed them in ninth place in the WCHA desperately needing points.
“You could tell which team was more desperate tonight,” remarked Mike Eaves. “We were spectators for two periods.”
The third period started with some drama. During the intermission, Mike Eaves decided to change his goaltender, pulling junior star Shane Connelly for freshman Scott Gudmandson.
“It had nothing to do with Shane’s play. It was a message to the team,” explained Eaves on why he made the change.
The Gophers started the period with 56 seconds remaining on the power play, but just 2:02 seconds into the period the Badgers got their first goal of the game with two extra attackers. Burying a beautiful crossing pass by freshmen phenom Kyle Turris through the crease, Blake Geoffrion one-timed the puck past Alex Kangas to bring the Badgers to within a pair of goals.
The Badgers continued to control the puck for the next five minutes, out shooting the Gophers 5-1. It looked as if Minnesota’s third period struggles stayed with them through their week off.
The Gophers regained the three goal lead at 8:16 on their second power-play goal of the game as Jay Barriball buried a pass off the back wall from Blake Wheeler.
“The game becomes easier when you score a couple power-play goals,” added Lucia.
At 10:59, Alex Kangas let a soft backhander from Blake Geoffrion rebound beyond his outstretched glove as he tried smothering it and Aaron Bendickson buried the three footer over Kangas on a chip shot to finish the scoring.
Derek Peltier began the scoring by beating Connelly over the blocker on a transition play. Peltier actually started the transition rush by passing to Flynn in neutral ice. Flynn Mike Carman who did a stop move at the top of the right circle. Flynn found Peltier entering the zone behind a few strides, who then wristed the shot through the open lane from at the top of the left circle.
Minnesota managed to outshoot Wisconsin 11-5 in the first despite having to kill off one more penalty.
Mike Carman scored the first power-play goal for the Gopher’s as he gobbled up a rebound on a power play. Tony Lucia set Dan Kaufman up for the original shot.
“It’s nice to have a little bit of a cushion,” remarked Carman.
Coach Eaves took a timeout after the goal to try and settle his Badgers down.
But the wheels came of the Badger bus at 12:32 when Patrick White scored on his one rebound. Justin Bostrom dropped the puck on a rush from White who took a shot on net from 35 feet straight out. The puck came straight back to White who slid the puck past Connelly.
The same two teams meet Saturday night at 7:05.