Putting up 20 shots on goal in the third period alone with nothing to show for it but a 3-2 loss to a Big Ten rival isn’t how the Gophers wanted to end the weekend.
The Gophers had a flurry of scoring chances late in regulation Saturday night against Wisconsin at 3M Arena at Mariucci. They just couldn’t bury any. They gave up the game-winner with 9 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game and split the series with the Badgers.
They have at least 40 shots on goal in four of their past five games — and they lost three of those games. The Gophers put 42 on net Saturday.
“The guys are frustrated they couldn’t score,” coach Don Lucia said. “Hopefully next game, they’ll start to go in again.”
The loss to No. 14 Wisconsin (10-7-2, 4-3-1-0 Big Ten) ended an eight-game home winning streak for the No. 7 Gophers (10-7-1, 4-5-1-1). Their last home loss was Oct. 13 to Penn State.
Badgers goaltender Jack Berry came up big, in the final minute of the game especially, to get the win and improve to 3-1-0 on the season.
It was 2-2 at the second intermission, and the teams had 22 shots apiece.
“We needed to win that [third] period,” Gophers defenseman Jack Sadek said. “It wasn’t lack of effort. … I don’t know how the puck didn’t go in.”
Sadek scored the Gophers’ second goal, his first of the season, early in the second period.
The game-winning goal came from a Wisconsin sophomore who already has a great résumé against the Gophers. Trent Frederic tipped a pass from teammate Jake Linhart between the legs of Gophers goalie Eric Schierhorn.
It was Frederic’s second goal of the weekend. He has five goals and seven points in six games against Minnesota.
So what did Berry do that kept the Gophers from scoring in the final 20 minutes despite all the chances?
“I’m not sure if it was one specific thing,” forward Casey Mittelstadt said. “I think for us, we’ve got to capitalize on our chances. I mean, we had five, six grade-A chances. … That’s just us not putting them in.”
Mittelstadt put the Gophers up 1-0 just 1:25 into the game with his first power-play goal of the season. The Badgers tied the score with a Matthew Freytag goal. Then with the Gophers shorthanded, junior Jack Ramsey got a breakaway chance and drew a penalty. Lucia went with the penalty shot option because, he said, “How many times do the fans get to see a penalty shot?”
Lucia said he thought his team played much better than the night before in a 5-4 victory. The shots in the third period Saturday were all right in front of the goaltender. Lucia said the Gophers generated good traffic in front, and he liked everything except the final score.
“I don’t know how a few of them didn’t go in,” Lucia said. “I’ll have to watch the video.”