Senior forward Travis Boyd described Minnesota’s shootout loss to Wisconsin on Friday night as “embarrassing.”
Boyd’s two-goal game helped the Gophers rebound against the Badgers. His teammates also kicked in a couple goals and stood up for each other when things got chippy late in the game.
“I though we finished our chances a little bit better tonight,” Boyd said.
The Gophers scored three first-period goals in their 5-2 throttling of Wisconsin early Saturday evening at Mariucci Arena. Eight of Minnesota’s players recorded at least a point in Saturday’s game. Boyd, Mike Reilly, Sam Warning and Connor Reilly had multi-point games.
“It was nice to see our guys get rewarded with some goals tonight,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “When you get 100 shots on goal during a weekend, you should get some reward, and tonight we did a good job getting to the net and got some rebound opportunities.”
The Gophers actually finished the series one shot on goal shy of 100.
Minnesota controlled play from the time the puck dropped, and scored early and often.
“It was absolutely crucial,” Connor Reilly said of the start. “Last night, you can talk all you want about how many chances we had, but if you’re not scoring … you’re really doing a whole lot of nothing, in my mind.”
Boyd scored his first goal four and a half minutes into the game on a power play when he found a rebound near the crease and easily hammered it past and an out-of-position Joel Rumpel.
Warning made it 2-0 when he scooped up his own rebound on Rumpel’s right-hand side and patiently skated across the crease to deposit a backhand shot past the goaltender’s glove.
“Sam’s a great player,” Boyd said. “He was a little bit snake bitten. That happens to a lot of people and when you’re in that you might start gripping the stick a little tight and trying to force it. Once he got the one last night, you could tell the difference in his game tonight; he was a lot more free-flowing.”
Boyd’s second goal was originally waived off but was determined to be a good goal after an official review. Warning found himself on a partial breakaway but his nifty backhanded attempt what denied by an amazing pad save by Rumpel. Boyd, the trailer on the play, put the puck into the net before it was knocked off its moorings.
Like Friday night, the Gophers held a huge shot advantage after one period. However, Saturday’s 21-7 advantage led to three goals rather than one.
“We were hungrier around the net,” Connor Reilly said. “We knew we wanted to get to Rumpel because, as you saw last night, he can definitely steal a game.”
Minnesota kept its foot on the gas in the second period.
Connor Reilly scored on a wicked one-timer slap shot from Justin Kloos at the 1:56 mark of the second to extend Minnesota’s lead to 4-0.
One of the Badgers few golden opportunities of the game came in the second when Warning slashed a Badgers’ player on a breakaway. The Badgers elected the penalty shot over a power play but Kevin Schulze’s shot squarely hit iron.
Badgers coach Mike Eaves said that this game proved that Wisconsin wasn’t ready for “prime time.”
“We’ve used the analogy of puppies in a box; they always want to get out and when they do something good you want to scratch them behind the ear and the next thing you know they’re crapping on the carpet,” he said. “We crapped on the carpet tonight.
“We get excited for them,” he said referring to Friday’s shootout win. “But then you come back out tonight and you realize that you’re not quite ready to play at that level for back-to-back nights.”
Christian Isackson made it 5-0 Minnesota when he came out of the penalty box and joined Minnesota’s rush. A deflected shot from the point found its way onto his tape and the Pine City, Minn., native used a wraparound move to score his first of the season.
At the game’s midpoint the Gophers’ had 31 shots on goal and the Badgers had 10.
Grant Besse found the puck near the crease amongst a crowd of players and put it past Gophers’ goaltender Adam Wilcox for Wisconsin’s first goal of the contest with about five minutes remaining in the second. Besse also scored Wisconsin’s second goal in the third period.
Things cooled off during the first 15 minutes of the third period, but ramped back up in the final five thanks a plethora of penalties taken by both teams.
“It’s surprising because there wasn’t a whole lot going on the first half of the third period,” Lucia said. “Over the years we haven’t had many games like that. They’ve been played whistle-to-whistle.”
At one point, the Gophers had six players in the sin bin, and things somehow unraveled farther from there. Lucia said that he couldn’t remember the last time he had six players in the box, but joked that it was “probably the last time we played North Dakota.”
Late in the game, Wisconsin’s Eddie Wittchow took a run at Minnesota’s Leon Bristedt and made contact with the freshman’s head. The hit caused all hell to break loose, with all players on the ice, including Rumpel, involved in the physical altercation in one form or another in Wisconsin’s defensive zone.
Wittchow and Minnesota’s Mike Reilly were given a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head.
Lucia, Eaves and Minnesota’s players didn’t make too much of the altercation, saying that things like that just happens in a spirited rivalry game.
Connor Reilly poked fun at his brother Mike, saying that he was surprised that the 6-foot-188-pound defenseman got involved in the altercation.
“It’s good to see him get in there and all the guys sticking up for each other because it shows that we care about each other,” he said.
The final seconds of the game after the incident played out smoothly and there were no altercations in the post-game handshake line.
These two teams will meet in two weeks at the Kohl Center.
“I always look forward to playing Wisconsin,” Boyd said. “But with the way this game ended, yeah, I’m a little more excited to play them now.”
Minnesota will play in the North Star College Cup next weekend and the Badgers will face off against Michigan at home.