It’s rivalry week for Wisconsin men’s hockey.
No. 19 Wisconsin (18-10-1 overall, 11-4-0 Big Ten), fresh off a sweep of Michigan at home, traveled to Minneapolis on Friday to face off against No. 4 Minnesota (20-9-2 overall, 11-4-0 Big Ten).
The Badgers, just on the fringes of NCAA tournament talk, gave their postseason hopes a huge boost, grabbing a 3-2 victory over the Gophers.
Minnesota got off to a hot start when Vinni Letteri split the Wisconsin defense and slipped a goal past freshman goaltender Jack Berry just 28 seconds into the game. The lead did not last long, however, as phenomenal freshman Trent Frederic extended his points streak to seven games, scoring his 15th goal of the year to tie the game at 1-1.
Aidan Cavallini’s amazing senior year got another highlight when he slapped home a shorthanded goal past Gophers goaltender Eric Schierhorn to give Wisconsin a 2-1 lead in the second period. Mostly forgotten during the Mike Eaves era, it was Cavallini’s third goal in the past two games and his eighth point in Big Ten play.
Ryan Wagner grabbed the game-winner with just a minute left in the second period. The junior forward netted a rebound score on the power play to give Wisconsin a 3-1 lead it would never relinquish. It was Wisconsin’s 33rd power-play goal of the season.
Letteri got a second goal for Minnesota midway through the third period, but it was not enough as the Badgers prevailed 3-2.
Berry had a stellar night, finishing the game with 36 saves. It was the freshman’s ninth win of the season.
Wisconsin is now tied for Minnesota for first place in the Big Ten. The Badgers can clinch no worse than second place in the conference with a win on Saturday.
The victory also moved Wisconsin past the break in the Pairwise projections, placing the Badgers squarely in the conversation for an NCAA tournament spot.
Wisconsin’s faces off against Minnesota on Saturday for the final time this regular season. The Badgers’ final five games are against the No. 4 Gophers, No. 11 Penn State and No. 12 Ohio State, all of whom are ranked ahead of Wisconsin in both the polls and Pairwise.