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Gophers Open Big Ten Play with Border Battle Win


MADISON, Wis. – A fortuitous 74 seconds saw the No. 14/16 Gopher Hockey program find the net three times to rally for a 3-2 win over No. 20 Wisconsin on Friday night as Bob Motzko and the Maroon & Gold opened Big Ten play with a Border Battle win at the Kohl Center.


Minnesota (2-3-1 overall, 1-0-0-0 Big Ten) tallied seven points in the win from seven different skaters including first career points from freshman forward Blake McLaughlin (an assist) and freshman forward Ben Brinkman (a goal). The Gophers have now won six of the last seven games at the Kohl Center while the Maroon & Gold are 7-1-1 in Madison since the start of the 2014-15 season.


After Wisconsin (4-5-0, 0-1-0-0) opened the game with two goals, Minnesota rallied with three goals in 74 seconds in the middle of the second period. Brinkman started the rally with his first career goal at 9:20 with assists coming from Jack Sadek and Sampo Ranta. The Badgers were also called for a penalty on the goal, and Rem Pitlick capitalized on the advantage 21 seconds later with his third tally of the season. Tyler Sheehy set up the power-play goal as Minnesota has now earned a power-play goal in four-straight games.


Just under a minute later, Ryan Norman notched the eventual game winner for his first goal of the season at 10:34 with an assist from McLaughlin.


Wisconsin opened the night with a goal from Brock Caufield at 9:37 of the first period before adding to the lead at 4:00 of the second period with a tally from Wyatt Kalynuk. The two-goal lead wouldn’t last, however, and Minnesota shut the door for the final 36 minutes of regulation.


Mat Robson picked up the win for the Maroon & Gold with 30 saves, moving to 2-2-1 on the year. Daniel Lebedeff suffered the loss for Wisconsin, making 24 saves and falling to 2-2-0.


The Gophers and Badgers close out this weekend’s Border Battle series in Madison on Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT.


Notes: Minnesota was outshot 32-27 in the series opener…the Gophers were 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill…senior forward Tommy Novak won 14 of his 17 faceoffs on the night…Norman’s game winner snapped a 27-game goal drought for the senior forward.