Furious third-period comeback effort falls short
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (20-9-1) fell 6-4 to Minnesota (22-6-0) in the Big Ten tournament championship despite an impressive comeback effort.
The Gophers struck first with a goal from Black McLaughlin at 10:32 of the first period as the Badgers struggled to clear the puck after killing off a penalty.
Minnesota headed into the first period ahead 1-0 and swiftly extended their lead 1:47 into the second period thanks to a tally from Mike Koster, and assisted by Blake McLaughin and Sammy Walker.
The Badgers were tasked with overcoming a two-goal deficit, something they’ve only done once this season.
Roman Ahcan got the Badgers on the board at 12:54 in the second period. Captain Ty Emberson directed the puck in front of the net where it deflected off a Gopher and right to Ahcan’s tape.
The Badgers’ momentum was short-lived as Minnesota responded with a fleury of goals to head into the third period with what appeared to be a comfortable 5-1 lead. Brannon McManus, Scott Reedy, and Jaxon Nelson recorded goals for Minnesota.
Robbie Beydoun replaced Cameron Rowe in net for Wisconsin after Minnesota’s fifth goal at 18:06 in the second.
Mike Vorlicky netted one for the Badgers early in the third period to spark their comeback effort. Josh Ess broke the puck out of the Badgers’ zone to Owen Lindmark who dropped the puck to Vorlicky as he crossed the Gophers’ blue line. Vorlicky picked the far corner to make it a 5-2 game.
Roman Ahcan notched his second goal of the game to continue to chip away at Minnesota’s lead. Linus Weissbach and Ty Pelton-Byce set up the play to put the Badgers within two of Minnesota.
With just over two minutes left in regulation, Cole Caufield put the Badgers within one. Lindmark won the offensive zone draw to Caufield, who showed off his lethal shot from the top of the circle.
Wisconsin called a timeout in the final minute of the third period and pulled goaltender Robbie Beydoun in favor of an extra skater, but Minnesota scored an empty-net goal to solidify their Big Ten tournament victory.
Notes to know:
Wisconsin fell to 3-2-0 this season against Minnesota.
Roman Ahcan posted his second two-goal game against his home-state Gophers.
Cole Caufield has goals in his last five consecutive games and points in his last eight.
The Badgers await their NCAA fate and the NCAA Selection Show set for Sunday, March 21, at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU.