Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.
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Early deficits have become normal for the Gophers. In eight of their 14 games the opponent has scored first and the story was no different in Saturday’s 4-3 victory over Wisconsin.
The Badgers took an early 1-0 lead for the second straight night with a goal from Frankie Simonelli 4:23 into the first period.
As usual, though, the Gophers responded quickly. Less than a minute later Kyle Rau tied the game, 1-1.
“I’m used to looking up and seeing 1-0 against us on the scoreboard,” Lucia said after the same result on Friday. “Luckily, we’re so used to it, so it doesn’t rattle us.”
The Gophers weren’t rattled at all on Saturday. They trailed twice and overcame the Badgers’ late push to force overtime. The group was pleased the ability to continually come from behind, but they need to break the habit co-captain Kyle Rau said.
“It’s not what we want to do. Any time you put yourself behind … it’s going to catch up to us at one point,” Rau said. “We gotta start coming out better.”
Senior forward Seth Ambroz agreed. He’s been impressed by the team’s resiliency, but also wants change.
“It shows we have resiliency. It shows that we are able to come back,” Ambroz said before expanding. “I think the past four games at our rink we gave up the first goal. That just can’t happen. We gotta be able to get that goal in the first 10 minutes and build from there.”
• Taylor Cammarata is still day-to-day. Lucia said the coaches didn’t want to throw him into an intense situation on Saturday after not skating on Friday.
• Gophers defenseman Jake Bischoff sat out a second straight night on Saturday. Lucia said “It was a hard, hard decision” to keep him out of the lineup.
Throughout the week Bischoff made a case that he should have played on Friday, Lucia said, but the competition among the defenseman is stiff, right now. Lucia added that the Gophers need Bischoff in their lineup and he’ll return next weekend at Michigan State.
• The Gophers won’t play at Mariucci Arena again until the New Year. After next weekend’s conference series at Michigan State they go on a Christmas break.
• Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves wasn’t happy about the Badgers five straight penalties to close out the game. He chirped in response to a question about the officiating and said he’d love to say something if it wouldn’t cost him a $1,000 fine.
Read Saturday's game story from the Gophers 4-3 victory over Wisconsin (will be updated with quotes).
Read Friday's game story from the Gophers 4-1 victory over Wisconsin.
Extra post-game videos from Friday night:
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Gophers forward Seth Ambroz:
Gophers coach Don Lucia: