Madison, Wis. – The Gophers chased goalie Jack Berry with three first-period goals and cruised to a 7-1 Big Ten men's hockey victory over Wisconsin before an announced 15,359 at the Kohl Center. The seven goals are a season high.
"It's huge to get the start we had," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "… Now we force them to chase the whole game.
"We haven't had much puck luck all year long scoring goals, and tonight they went in."
Rem Pitlick added two second-period goals for the Gophers (18-13-1, 9-10-1-1 Big Ten), which swept the weekend series to leapfrog both idle Penn State and the Badgers (14-15-4, 8-11-3-1) into fourth place in the conference race. The No. 12 Gophers edged Wisconsin 4-2 on Friday, getting two goals in the final five minutes of the game.
This game needed no such dramatics. It went so well even the slumbering Gophers power play — sixth-worst in Division I at 12.6 percent — clicked for three goals. Meanwhile, Mat Robson needed to make only 23 saves.
"Mat has done a real good job in the nets not allowing a soft goal to let the other team get back into it," Lucia said. "He was rock solid and our penalty kill did a real good job disrupting tonight."
Leon Bristedt got the Gophers, who have won five of their past six games, off to a fast start, scoring at 67 seconds on the game's first shot. Brent Gates made it 2-0 just under 10 minutes into the game. And then Tyler Nanne beat Berry at 15:38 with the visitors' ninth shot of the game. Kyle Hayton replaced Berry at that point.
Hayton needed to stop just one shot the rest of the first period and the No. 17 Badgers' Trent Frederic cut the Gophers' lead to 3-1 with 1:13 left.
Pitlick gave the Gophers a more comfortable cushion with one goal near the beginning of the middle period and another near the end, his 10th and 11th goals this season. He batted a puck out of midair into the net with 1:24 left in the period after a bench penalty on the Badgers.
Tyler Sheehy, the hero of the series opener with two goals, got the Gophers' sixth goal midway through the third on a 2-on-0 breakaway. Jack Ramsey made it 7-1 with just under 5 minutes to play on another power play.
"Sometimes on Senior Night you just come out flat," Lucia said. "They had emotions, they had seven or eight seniors. Parents are in, you go through your four-year career. It might have been different if they scored first, too. But all of a sudden it is 3-0."
Hayton, one of those seniors, finished with 23 saves in his relief role.
This was the 3,000th game in Gophers men's hockey history and 100th as a Big Ten member.