Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Gophers-Badgers Border Battle Round 1 ends in tie; Aeros coming to town

Posted by: Michael Russo under Gophers postgame, Wild off-season news Updated: November 16, 2012 - 11:45 PM

Those who prepped me for the “Border Battle” made sure I was aware that no matter what the records of these two schools over the years, you can throw that out.

 
The Badgers entered the series with a 5-2-1 record in their past eight games in Minnesota. The Gophers were 2-8-1 in their past 11 Friday games vs. the Badgers. The Gophers haven’t won a season series against Wisconsin since 2006-07.
 
So throw the 6-2-1 and 1-4-1, respective records, out the window.
 
The Badgers, despite playing without their leading scorer and losing two forwards tonight to five-minute-major/game misconducts, hung on for a 2-2 tie despite being outshot 43-24.
 
Sophomore goalie Landon Peterson was awesome with 41 saves and Michael Mersch scored both goals. His 28 goals are the most of any active Badgers player.
 
Erik Haula scored a goal and assist and Zach Budish scored a goal. Adam Wilcox (5-1-2) made 22 saves.
 
The Gophers failed to score on two five-minute majors (one was actually 3:34), and that was all she wrote thanks to Seth Ambroz having a goal disallowed due to the ref losing sight of the puck, Kyle Rau hitting a pipe, Nick Bjugstad hitting a crossbar after a nifty shorthanded pickpocket and Christian Isackson missing the net from point-blank range in overtime.
 
The big concern for  Don Lucia is the lack of 5-on-5 goals since the opening weekend routs of inexperience, banged-up Michigan State. The Gophers have scored four even-strength goals the last four games (10 power-play goals).
 
Lucia said he was encouraged by one of Budish’s best game in awhile, but he wants more from Isackson and says the tough thing is the Sam Warning injury has disrupted the top-9. Warning is expected to miss at least the next three games, and if he’s unable to practice the following week in preparation for Nebraska-Omaha, Lucia said he would be shut down until after Christmas.
 
Besides the lack of power-play goals on the majors, Lucia didn’t like the Gophers’ shifts after the Budish and Haula goals. Mersch struck 26 seconds after Budish, and then before he tied the game in the second, the Badgers had a good four-minute surge after Haula’s power-play tally.
 
Haula was real good again. He now has a team-leading six goals and 13 points in 10 games. His dad, Tomi, flew in for the weekend from Finland, and hopefully you were able to read my Haula profile in Friday’s paper. Mikael Granlund was also planning to watch his first-ever college game tonight to see his buddy and Minnesota tour guide, Haula, play.
 
I wasn’t able to confirm though if Granlund did make it.
 
Loved Nate Condon’s hustle before Budish’s goal. Not only did the Wisconsin native’s speed cause the linesman to wave off an icing, Condon hit the brakes in the corner to cause defenseman John Ramage to crash into the glass. As Ramage gathered himself, Condon casually came out with the puck and slipped a backhanded pass into the slot for Budish.
 
Tom Serratore looked a little loopy after being hit in the head by Tyler Barnes. He said he felt OK after the game and passed his baseline test, Lucia said. As long as he feels well Saturday, he’d be OK to play in Saturday’s 8 p.m. rematch, Lucia said.
 
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Speaking of Lucia, ahead of schedule, son Mario Lucia, a 2011 second-round pick by the Wild, made his collegiate debut this weekend for Notre Dame. He scored in tonight’s win, and he tweeted: “@MLucia2293: First time sweeping Michigan at yost since my dad was a freshman. Big weekend. #destiny#yostbusters
 
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The Aeros lost in Rockford tonight, and in the game, there was a scary injury with defenseman Steve Kampfer, the 23-year-old who played 13 games for the Wild last season after coming from Boston in the Greg Zanon trade.
 
I didn’t see it, but there was a collision, a lot of blood and he was taken off on a stretcher. Aeros GM Jim Mill said in an email that Kampfer is at an Illinois hospital, responsive, has feelings in all his extremities but is very sore.
 
If I get any more updates tonight, I will update the blog.
 
The Aeros are currently bussing to the Twin Cities, will practice at the X on Saturday afternoon and host Rockford at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are free for season-ticket holders and $20 for all others. They can be bought at the box office or wild.com or Ticketmaster.
 
Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Chad Rau and now Kampfer are injured.
 
In for the game will be prospects like Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Johan Larsson, Zack Phillips, Brett Bulmer, Tyler Cuma, Justin Fontaine, Chay Genoway, stud AHL defenseman and Bloomington’s own Brian Connelly, David McIntyre, etc., etc. NHLer Marco Scandella, a 2010 second-rounder, will also be playing.
 
Aeros players will sign autographs after the game for 30 minutes.
 
The Wild will conduct the seventh annual Toyota Food Drive to benefit Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger-relief organization. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and/or monetary donations to Gates 1, 2 and 5 at 4:00 p.m. and continuing through the start of the first period.
 
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