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Badgers hockey makes big statement with 5-3 demolition of Gophers

Three second period goals lifted the Wisconsin Badgers over No. 7 Minnesota 5-3 in the series finale.

After a tough overtime loss in Friday night’s affair, the Badgers found the offense in a big way on Saturday night. Not only did it pour in five goals, but they outshot the Gophers 37-35 after losing that battle 40-32 the night before.

The win was the first for UW hockey over a ranked team since a 3-1 win over Boston College in the series opener back in October.

Things looked promising early on for the Badgers (11-8-1, 4-2-0-0 B1G), as they got on the board first unlike Friday night. With the two teams trading good opportunities for the first 10 minutes of action, a goal was bound to come.

Will Johnson made sure to do just that, scoring the opening goal of the game at the 12:38 mark of the first period.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a sign of great things to come for the home team. Instead, Minnesota responded with a pair of goals in a span of two minutes to take a 2-1 lead in to the first intermission.

Ryan Norman tied the game up thanks to some great passing by his teammates, eventually slotting the puck past Jurusik from right in front of the net.

Just 91 seconds later a promising start became a deficit for the Badgers, as Mike Szmatula netted his ninth goal of the season at the 18:09 mark of the first period to make it 2-1 in favor of Minnesota.

However, the craziness was just about to begin. Instead of a Badgers collapse, the team regrouped during the intermission and came out determined to get things going offensively.

That game plan worked out well, as Wisconsin poured in three goals in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit in to a 4-2 lead by the end of the period.

Cameron Hughes finally got the Badgers on the board after UW peppered Gophers netminder Eric Schierhorn for most of the first half of the period. Hughes got on the end of a Will Johnson shot that was deflected and wrapped one around the net to make it 2-2 at the 10:53 mark of the second period.

It was just the beginning of a barrage on Schierhorn’s net from the Badgers. Just under two minutes later, Tim Davison, of all people, put the Badgers in to the lead.

His quick wrister from the top of the right circle caught Schierhorn sleeping in net and it became 3-2 Wisconsin.

Minnesota didn’t have a chance to respond at all, as Wisconsin kept pouring it on in the offensive zone. The Gophers compounded their issues by taking a bad penalty, and Wisconsin would make them pay for it.

Corbin McGuire doubled the Badgers lead to 4-2 at the 15:59 mark of the second period on a power play goal.

It was all part of a dominating overall effort from the Badgers in the second period. Wisconsin held a massive 17-7 advantage in shots and Matt Jurusk had a strong night in goal for the Badgers.

He finished the game with 32 saves on 35 shots and saved Wisconsin big time on multiple efforts right in front of his net.

Jurusik was also picked up by a Badgers power play unit that went to work in a big way. UW came in to the weekend No. 10 in the country on the power play, and it converted on two of six opportunities in this matchup.

This win bolsters a Wisconsin hockey team looking to show they are more than just able to take care of the weaker teams in college hockey. But, this win also means expectations increase and not capitalizing on it would be a step backwards to say the least.

Wisconsin will take on Ohio State for an interesting series next weekend. The two teams will tangle in Columbus on Friday night before heading to Madison Square Garden as the second half of a basketball-hockey double-header with UW vs. Rutgers basketball opening up the Saturday action at the Garden.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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