For a brief moment on Friday, it looked as if the Gophers would beat No. 1-rated Wisconsin at Ridder Arena.
An announced crowd of 2,554 -- the largest of the season -- was celebrated what appeared to be a Gophers' goal in the last minute of the third period. Captain Jen Schoullis appeared to have scored with 44 seconds on an odd-man rush to put the Gophers ahead 4-3. But officials reviewed the play and correctly waved off the goal because the puck went in off Schoullis' glove.
The score remained 3-3, the game went into overtime. The No. 2 Gophers outshot the Badgers 6-1 in the extra five minutes but nobody scored. So then the game was officially a tie and each team received a point in the WCHA standings.
"I don't really consider it a loss," Gophers defenseman Anne Schleper said.
Teammate Megan Bozek had a slightly different point of view. "It is always a tough way to lose to the No. 1 team in the country, in a shootout. But you have to look at the positive things. Our team played great we went from having five shots in the first period to ending up with 41 shots. It is a good finish."
A second point for one of the teams hinged on who would win the three-person shootout. The Gophers went first and three of their players and two of Wisconsin's were either stopped or missed the net on their shootout attempts. Then Hilary Knight, the Badgers' third shooter, scored. Shootout over. Game over.
The first two periods between the nation's two top-rated teams were vastly different. The Badgers looked unbeatable in the opening period, outshooting the Gophers 16-4 and scoring once.
The second period was the complete opposite. The Gophers had a 17-6 shot advantage and defenseman Anne Schleper scored on a shot from the point to tie the score at 1-1. The goal, her third of the season, was the 100th point of her career.
"It is hard when they score the first goal in Ridder," Bozek said. "But when we got the fans going with our first goal, the atmosphere completely changed. And it is pretty cool to see the wave in our arena."
The third period probably had the most pace and certainly the most momentum changes. Brianna Decker gave the Badgers a 2-1 lead in the sixth minute, but Schoullis scored on a power play five minutes later.
Wisconsin took the lead a third time at 3-2 on Brooke Ammerman's goal with 5:53 left. But Gophers defenseman Megan Bozek scored the Gophers' second power- play goal with 2:08 to play.
"[Ammerman] has secret skills, undetermined," Bozek said. "You never know what she is going to do. ... It is tough when they get a late goal like that but I am glad we responded right away."
Bozek was excited when Schoullis appeared to score "until she said rhat she hit it with her hand. So we kind of knew [it would be waved off]. But if the refs don't see it, then that would have been great for us."
They saw the puck go off Schoullis' hand."
Said Schleper, "I just said in the locker room, that [rallying three times] shows a lot of character and a lot of heart. That is definitely what we needed for the second half to start us out."
"I am glad that this goes as a tie in the national rankings," Bozek said. "We obviously know that we can keep up with [the Badgers]. We just have to get our starts quicker. That has been our problem against them. If we come out hard [Saturday], I think we will be fine."
The final shots were 41-37 in the Gophers' favor. The two teams are 1-1-1 against each other officially now. They met in Madison, Wis., early this season and in that series the Badgers won the first game 3-2 -- after taking a 3-0 lead in the opening period -- but lost the second one by the same score.
The Badgers are now 19-1-1 overall, 13-1-1 in the WCHA; the Gophers are 17-3-1, 11-3-1.