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Gophers Hockey Beats Rival Badgers, Secures 3 Points on Weekend

11/18/2012, 7:15am CST
By Thom Wynn

Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox made some big saves in the games final minutes.

The Gophers (7-2-2, 4-2-2 WCHA) beat Wisconsin (1-5-2, 1-3-2 WCHA) tonight at Mariucci by a final score of 3-1. After Wisconsin opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal in the first period, Nick Bjugstad brought the Gophers even at one with a nice wrister on the short side. Tom Serratore got the go ahead and game winning goal six minutes into the third period, and Kyle Rau got the empty netter to close things out with :24 left in the game.

 
Here is what I saw….
 

   Wisconsin had their best offensive chances tonight when they were killing penalties.

 

   Gophers got the scoring from someone other than their big guys (Bjugstad, Rau, Haula, Budish), that Head Coach Don Lucia stressed that they needed in order to be successful, when Tom Serratore scored the game winning goal in the third period. They also got two even strength goals, a concern they addressed after Friday nights game.

 

   Like Friday night, the Gophers were having a difficult time getting shots through the Badgers as Wisconsin packed it in around the net defensively. And when they did get the rare open look at the net, they either missed the net, or whiffed on the shot.

 

   Nick Bjugstad's goal in the second period was huge. It sparked a Gopher team that really didn't have much going before then. Wisconsin had the lead, and had effectively taken the Minnesota crowd out of the game.

 

   On defense, Mark Alt just doesn't seem as strong on his skates this year, after a very good season in 2011-12. He hasn't been bad, he just hasn't been much of a factor. Watching him this year, it feels like he's battling something either physically or mentally. Hopefully he comes around soon. Meanwhile, Nate Schmidt has picked up where he left off last year. In my opinion, he has been the steadiest player for the Gophers this season, and easily the best interview on the team. Twenty bucks says he is Captain of the team next season, assuming he stays.

 

   Extra painful for Wisconsin tonight, was the fact that Rau got the open net goal at the end. He was pissing the Badgers off all weekend, which he tends to do to teams, and it had to be excruciating for Wisconsin to watch him skate in uncontested from center ice and slide it in. It also occurred to me tonight that it's amazing Rau has not been injured more. For a guy that is 5'8" 170, he is absolutely fearless! He blocks a ton of shots, he throws his body at anyone he can find wearing the opposite color, and quite often that is also the oppositions biggest players. He consistently takes a beating in front of the net and after every whistle. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve some of those beatings, but…. Kyle Rau, I salute you.

 

   Wilcox is good! Still think Shibrowski could do the job too, but Wilcox probably had his best game of the year. Came up really big 3 or 4 times. I love this kids confidence.

 

   I'm sorry, but tonight's Goldy was the worst I've ever seen. Couldn't skate and couldn't spin his head. Embarrassing really.

 
 
Here are the post game comments:
 
 

Tom Serratore:

 

Regarding his game winning goal…. "I was coming off the bench and he (Haula) fed me. I made a little fake and put it in the back of the net. I used the defense as a screen. I was fortunate to get around the guy, throw it on net, and it went in. My brain kind of went blank after it went in. It was so loud, and the guys started jumping on me. Feels good to get a game winner"

 
 

Adam Wilcox:

 

Regarding the big glove save he made on a three on one…. "Our D had the back door on the right side covered, so I knew he was going to either shoot it or go to the guy on the left. He ended up shooting it glove. I was kinda hoping he was gonna go there"

 

Regarding how important this game was…. "It was an emotional one tonight. We really needed that. I think we're getting better as a team"

 
 

Nick Bjugstad:

 

Regarding the teams effort…. "Last night we felt like we had some chances and didn't capitalize on them. Tonight we were missing the net quite a bit, but we were able to execute on some of those goals. Tom Serratore came up big with that game winner, and the team put together a good effort. We came out hard from the start""

 

Regarding what looked like some frustration on his part prior to the goal…. "Coach told me not to get too down on myself, which is something I need to work on. We stuck with it tonight, and fortunately capitalized on our chances"

 

Regarding his goal…. "I just kind of put it on net. My eyes got pretty big when I saw the puck. I let it rip, and fortunately it went in. It worked out, so…."

 

Regarding Serratore's goal…. "It was good to see. He works hard, and he's a gritty player. Eventually it's going to pay off like it did there. He's had some big goals for this program"

 
 
Minnesota Head Coach Don Lucia:
 

Regarding Serratore's goal…. "It was great to see a guy who doesn't score a lot, score a big goal. Obviously, that was the pivotal play in the game. He was in the right place at the right time, and it was a nice shot, low stick side"

 

Regarding the play of Wilcox…. "He's been terrific all season. I like the way he plays. Most young goalies are going to drop and get beat up top. He stands his ground. He gave up three goals this weekend, two off rebounds and one on a two on one that he had no chance on. He gives us a chance every night"

 

Regarding the play of Bjugstad…. "Nick (Bjugstad) needed to score a goal. He's been squeezing the stick a little bit"

 

Regarding the teams effort …. "I thought we played with good rhythm tonight. I was happy with how we played. Win or lose, we were more cohesive, and I thought we played a pretty good game"

 
 

The Gophers will take on the Vermont Catamounts next weekend in Burlington, Vermont. Game time both nights is 6:00 PM (Central), and the games will be broadcast on Fox Sports North.

 

 

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Tag(s): Other Gopher Sports