Sans a few moments in the second period, the Wisconsin Badgers hockey team was largely outplayed by host Minnesota on Friday night.
But a three-goal barrage in the middle stanza was enough to propel the No. 19 Badgers to a 3-2 win over the No. 4 Gophers in hostile territory.
With the win, UW is now tied with Minnesota for the Big Ten lead.
The Zamboni had just left the ice when Vinni Lettieri put Minnesota on top with his goal just 28 seconds into the game. Lettieri netted his 16th goal of the season courtesy of a fortunate bounce. Standing on the goal line, the senior forward pushed the puck back toward the net only to have it carom off Wisconsin goaltender Jack Berry and into the goal.
It took five minutes for UW to put its first shot on goal. In total, the Badgers mustered just five shots in the opening frame.
Trent Frederic knotted the game at one apiece at the 3:42 mark of the second. Frederic beat Minnesota netminder Eric Schierhorn on his blocker side to tally his 15th goal of the campaign.
A few minutes later, the Badgers took the lead thanks to a shorthanded goal from Aidan Cavallini. The senior forward stuffed home a rebound from Luke Kunin shot off a two-on-one to put UW ahead for good.
Late in the period Minnesota was assessed a minor penalty for too many men on the ice. The Badgers made them pay as Ryan Wagner deflected Jake Linhart’s shot into the back of the net to make it 3-1 in favor of the visitors.
With 8:08 remaining in the contest, Lettieri brought the Gophers back within one with his second goal of the night. The Badgers fought off a penalty as well as over two minutes of 6-on-5 to preserve their one-goal lead down the stretch.
UW’s penalty kill thwarted the Gophers on all four power plays. Berry stopped 36 of the 38 shots he faced to earn his ninth win of the season.
Offensively, Wagner finished the night with an assist to go along with his goal.
Wisconsin and Minnesota lace them up again on Saturday night. The winner of the game will end the weekend atop the Big Ten standings.