MINNEAPOLIS – The No. 3 Minnesota men’s hockey team answered a Badgers shorthanded goal with three unanswered scores on Saturday night to pick up a 3-1 win over Wisconsin at Mariucci Arena. Nick Bjugstad, Tom Serratore and Kyle Rau scored for the Gophers while the Minnesota penalty kill finished the night 4-for-4 with just one shot against.
“It was a very good college hockey game,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “I thought both teams competed extremely hard. It went down to the third period, and for us it was great to see a guy (Serratore) that doesn’t score a lot score a big goal.”
After tying 2-2 in overtime on Friday night, Minnesota (7-2-2 overall, 4-2-2 WCHA) started down a goal on Saturday as Ryan Little tallied his first of the year at 16:24 on a Badgers shorthanded goal from Brendan Woods and Frankie Simonelli.
Nick Bjugstad erased the one-goal deficit with his sixth of the year at 7:14 of the second period – a snipe that moved the junior into a tie with Erik Haula for the team goal lead. Christian Isackson and Mike Reilly were credited with assists on the goal.
Haula would factor into the eventual game winner – beating a Badgers defenseman to move the puck into the offensive zone and picking up his team-high 14th point of the season when he fed Serratore for the eventual game-winning goal. Zach Budish also picked up an assist on the play to end the weekend with three points (one goal, two assists). The goal for Serratore snapped an eight-game point drought for the forward dating back to the first weekend of the season.
“Tom Serratore came up big with that game winner,” Bjugstad said. “The team put together a great effort. We came out hard from the start, so that was a good statement to make.”
“I was just fortunate enough to get around the guy and throw it on net, and it went in,” Serratore said.
Kyle Rau would put the icing on the cake with 24 seconds left – pocketing the empty netter to give Minnesota the 3-1 win. Bjugstad and senior Seth Helgeson earned assists – Helgeson’s marking the alternate captain’s second point of the season.
On the other end of the ice, Adam Wilcox made 16 saves in goal to improve 6-1-2 on the season. Despite the low shot numbers – Minnesota has now outshot opponents in 10-of-11 games this season – the rookie goaltender came up big when called upon. Joel Rumpel suffered the loss for Wisconsin (1-5-2, 1-3-2) to fall to 1-4-1 this year.
Minnesota continues the 2012-13 season next weekend with the team’s first-ever trip to Vermont.
photo by Brad Rempel