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Wisconsin men’s hockey: UW splits series with No. 1 Minnesota

The Badgers handed the Gophers their first loss of the season on Saturday afternoon.

Tom Lynn

The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team (6-6-0, 6-3-0-1 Big Ten) split its home series against the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-1-0, 9-1-0-0 Big Ten) over the weekend, handing the Gophers their first loss of the season on Saturday afternoon, 3-1.

In an evenly matched first two periods on Saturday, the Badgers took the lead thanks to a hard-driving Linus Weissbach goal, his sixth of the season, from Cole Caufield and Tarek Baker. Baker extended UW’s lead to 2-0 at the start of the third period and Wisconsin goalie Robbie Beydoun withstood a Minnesota onslaught in the final frame (the Gophers outshot the Badgers 17-4 and scored a power play goal) to deal UM their first setback of the year.

This was the third consecutive game that the Badgers had beaten the Gophers when Minnesota was ranked No. 1. Caufield and Dylan Holloway were back on the ice for the Badgers in this game after representing their respective countries, the United States and Canada, in the World Juniors Championships. Holloway had been gone from the team since the first series of the year, so it was nice to see him back in the lineup.

Looking for the sweep on Sunday afternoon, the Badgers gave up a goal 81 seconds into the game and never fully recovered as they fell 5-3. Sam Stange scored before the end of the first frame and then Brock Caufield scored halfway through the second to give UW a brief lead, however the Gophers responded with three straight tallies before putting the game away with their fifth goal at the end of the third.

Cole Caufield scored his team-leading seventh goal to pull Wisconsin within one goal in the third but the Badgers couldn’t solve Minnesota goalie Jack LaFontaine for the rest of the game despite outshooting the Gophers 32-24 in the game. Sunday’s game was the third time that the Caufield brothers scored in the same game this season. Jesper Peltonen notched two assists for the first multi-point game of his collegiate career.

UW will stay in Madison for its next series against Arizona State on Jan. 15-16. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. CST, with Friday’s game on Fox Sports Wisconsin PLUS, and Saturday on Fox Sports Wisconsin. The last time the Sun Devils were in town, they swept a short-handed Badgers’ squad, 8-5 and 3-1.