MADISON, WIS. – Defenseman Josh Ess’ first goal of the season for Wisconsin broke a tie in the middle of the third period as the Badgers beat the Gophers 3-1 on Saturday night at the Kohl Center, to split the opening Big Ten series of the season for both teams.
No. 16 Minnesota won Friday night’s game 3-2.
Ess’ goal came with 9 minutes, 40 seconds left to play. Jack Gorniak added an empty-net goal for No. 20 Wisconsin (5-5, 1-1 Big Ten) with 24 seconds remaining for the final margin.
“We did make plays, we just couldn’t get it behind [their goalie],” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “The only criticism is missed the net a lot. We had more opportunities and better opportunities we could have made by honing in on our shooting.”
One of the best chances for the Gophers in the third period came after they fell behind 2-1 and took a penalty. Tyler Sheehy hit a post with his team shorthanded.
It was the second time at least the Gophers hit a pipe. Brent Gates Jr. hit the crossbar with 7:30 left in the second period.
The teams traded power-play goals in the first period — both teams finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage. Brandon McManus scored for the Gophers (2-4-1, 1-1) at 11:15 — it was the sixth game in a row for Minnesota with a goal on a man-advantage. Sean Dhooghe answered for the Badgers at 18 minutes.
Senior Eric Schierhorn made his second start in goal this season for the Gophers and lost for the second time despite playing well. He finished with 29 saves. Wisconsin goalie Daniel Lebedeff stopped 32 shots.
In his first start, Schierhorn lost 2-1 to then-No. 4 Minnesota State Mankato on Nov. 3 in his 100th career start. He stopped 20 shots that game.