Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last nine 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 has been with the Star Tribune since 2012.
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Wisconsin wouldn't let the Gophers’ speed build any momentum.
The Badgers set a physical tone early on Friday night and kept the Gophers on their heels. The game plan limited the Gophers’ flow and quality scoring chances in a 2-1 loss at a sold out Kohl Center.
“That’s one thing we empathized a lot. Win battles. They try to win a fast, skilled game and I think a lot of guys were out there tonight winning battles and laying the body down,” Wisconsin defenseman Frankie Simonelli said. “Everyone was stepping in front of them and slowing them down and taking the puck off their stick.”
Former Mr. Hockey Minnesota Grant Besse was part of the Badgers’ physical presence. He laid a big hit on Gophers defenseman Jake Parenteau to add to his big night of a goal and an assist.
Wisconsin veteran defenseman Jake McCabe’s over-physical presence disqualified him in the second period. He was called for a game misconduct, hit to the head, on Gophers forward Kyle Rau.
Read Friday's game story.
• The Gophers don’t respond well to back-to-back defeats. They’ve happened just three times in the past two years.
Taylor Cammarata remained hunched for several seconds after the final buzzer. Travis Boyd quickly found goaltender Adam Wilcox and consoled him. Outside of the Gophers' locker room, there were a lot of blank stares.
“Right now it stinks. It’s Wisconsin. It’s not a good feeling right now,” forward Seth Ambroz said. “But you gotta want to come back to the rink and getter after a weekend like this. … Right there we’re just not quite there as a team.”
Last season, the Gophers ended their season with back-to-back defeats in the playoffs. Before that, they were swept by Denver in February 2012.
• Ambroz continued to produce against Wisconsin. He scored four goals against the Badgers at Mariucci Arena in November and added one more on Friday night.
His teammates aren’t as fortunate. The Gophers have scored just five goals in their last four games and it’s beginning to catch up to them. Without points, they struggle to build momentum.
“Goals give you momentum,” Lucia said, “and we didn’t score goals to give our team momentum this weekend.”
• Wisconsin climbed into second place in the Big Ten standings after its six-point sweep. The Gophers still hold the top spot with 26 points.
Third-place Michigan is next for the Gophers. The Wolverines beat and tied the Badgers, last weekend.
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Gophers coach Don Lucia:
Gophers forward Seth Ambroz: