A share of the WCHA title went to the Gophers, but not before the visiting Badgers had their way.
Wisconsin is nearing the end of a forgettable regular season. The Badgers came to Mariucci Arena on Friday buried in ninth place in the WCHA race.
The Badgers were stuck on one road victory until last weekend, when they swept Bemidji State.
Now that total is four. Wisconsin routed the Gophers 4-1 before an announced crowd of 9,969 that left bewildered. They came to see the nation's No. 5-rated team clinch the MacNaughton Cup, presented to the regular-season conference champion.
Instead, they saw the Gophers' most one-sided loss of the season. Most fans were in their cars -- or home already if they left early -- when the Gophers clinched at least a share of the WCHA title when Minnesota Duluth lost 2-1 at St. Cloud State.
"There is no such thing as backing into anything," coach Don Lucia said when asked about the manner in which the Gophers got a share of their 13th MacNaughton Cup. "That's what you play 28 [conference] games for."
The Gophers (23-12-1, 19-8) remained alone atop the conference with 38 points. The Bulldogs, whose game started 30 minutes later, have 36 points and can, at best, tie Minnesota on Saturday -- but they cannot pass the Gophers.
That means the Gophers will be the No. 1 seed for the WCHA playoffs. They own the tiebreaker over UMD, a 2-0 advantage head-to-head. Their opponent in the first round of the WCHA playoffs at Mariucci next weekend will be No. 12 seed Alaska Anchorage, which ended the Gophers' season last year in the first round.
The Gophers were seemingly on a late-season roll, taking a four-game winning streak into Friday. But Badgers sophomore Mark Zengerle overshadowed everyone with assists on Wisconsin's first three goals and later scored unassisted.
This Gophers loss was nearly a carbon copy of the game the teams played on Nov. 11 at the Kohl Center. The Badgers won 3-1 that night, with the Gophers' goal coming with 1:09 left in the game.
Nearly four months later, the Gophers were shut out until Nico Sacchetti scored with 1:02 to play.
"Playing in this building can be difficult if the crowd gets into it," Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. "But we were able to get the lead and take [the fans] out of it and we kept adding [goals]."
It was such a mismatch that Lucia pulled Kent Patterson after two periods. He had played every minute of every game dating to Dec. 4, 2010. Friday he made his 57th consecutive start. Sophomore Mike Shibrowski came in the and stopped five shots in the third period.
Tyler Barnes' rebound goal gave Wisconsin a 1-0 lead with 2:01 left in the first period The Badgers scored three unanswered goals in the second period -- just like in November -- for a 4-0 cushion.
Ryan Little made it 2-0 and then Mike Mersch and Zengerle made it 4-0 on power-play goals.
Nick Bjugstad, the Gophers' leading scorer with 23 goals, didn't play because of an injury he suffered last Saturday at Nebraska Omaha.
"The way the rest of our guys played, it wouldn't have mattered if Nick was in the lineup," Lucia said. "He was begging, but we wanted to get him through another hard practice, which we were able to do. We will see how he feels [Saturday]."
Lucia expects Bjugstad to be ready. So does Eaves.
"It's funny, you take one player like that out of your lineup," Eaves said, "it changes the whole chemistry of your team."
|Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer||1||FINAL|
|Boston - WP: A. Aceves||5|
|NY Mets - WP: M. Harvey||4||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: A. Wood||3|
|Washington - LP: R. Detwiler||2||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - WP: C. Lee||4|
|Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera||3||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Allen||4|
|Colorado - LP: J. Francis||3||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: E. Rogers||8|
|Baltimore - WP: Z. Britton||5||FINAL|
|Detroit - LP: J. Verlander||2|
|NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler||6||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: P. Maholm||1|
|Pittsburgh - WP: C. Morton||4||FINAL|
|Cincinnati - LP: M. Latos||0|
|Oakland - WP: J. Parker||6||FINAL|
|Texas - LP: Y. Darvish||2|
|Tampa Bay - LP: J. Peralta||1||FINAL|
|Boston - WP: A. Bailey||3|
|Chicago WSox - LP: R. Troncoso||5||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: J. Burton||7|
|Milwaukee - LP: A. Figaro||1||FINAL|
|Houston - WP: J. Lyles||10|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Samardzija||4||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright||2|
|Miami - LP: C. Qualls||2||FINAL|
|Arizona - WP: D. Hernandez||3|
|Seattle||2||Top 10th Inning|
|San Diego - LP: D. Thayer||4||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: J. Machi||5|
|Montreal||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Winnipeg||6/20/13 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||6/20/13 9:00 PM|
|Edmonton||6/21/13 9:00 PM|
|Montreal||6/27/13 8:00 PM|