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CHICAGO – A third period rally by the Gophers fell just short on Sunday afternoon as the No. 2 Minnesota men’s hockey program fell, 3-2, to No. 18 Wisconsin at Soldier Field as part of the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic. Zach Budish and Seth Ambroz picked up goals in Minnesota’s first outdoor game of the modern era.
Minnesota (20-6-4 overall, 12-6-4 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) won the regular-season series with the Badgers with a 2-1-1 record against the team’s border rival in 2012-13, but the Gophers were unable to pick up the league sweep on Sunday.
After a scoreless first period, Wisconsin (13-10-8, 10-7-7) built a three-goal lead with goals from Kevin Schulzes, John Ramage and Sean Little in the second period. All three Badger goals came at even strength on Sunday.
But the Gophers refused to go quietly. Seth Ambroz, who tallied the game winner in Friday’s 3-2 win in Madison, put the Maroon and Gold on the board at 2:36 of the first period with his ninth of the season after being set up by Justin Holl and Christian Isackson.
Zach Budish would cut the lead to one with 1:42 left to play when he notched his 10th of the year with Minnesota’s net open at the other end of the ice. Nick Bjugstad and Erik Haula earned assists on the goal.
Minnesota, which outshot the Badgers 38-19 overall on Sunday, put the pressure on in the third period with a shot advantage of 11-3. But the Gophers would get no farther than the one-goal deficit and Wisconsin went on to earn a split for the weekend.
Adam Wilcox suffered the loss for Minnesota with a 16-save game to fall to 19-5-4 in his rookie season. Joel Rumpel made 36 saves on the other end of the ice to move to 7-7-4 this season.
With a five-game road stretch in the rearview, Minnesota returns to Mariucci Arena next weekend for a two-game WCHA series with Minnesota-Duluth.