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Wisconsin men’s hockey: valiant UW comeback effort falls short and Gophers win Big Ten Tournament

Minnesota beats Wisconsin 6-4 on Tuesday night.

Tom Lynn

In one of the most exciting games of the season, the top-seeded Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team mounted a valiant comeback against the second-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers but fell just short and lost 6-4 on Tuesday night.

The Gophers scored first, about halfway through the first period, and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The Badgers ended up outshooting the Gophers in the first period but Minnesota seemed to dictate play. Under two minutes into the second period and the Gophers scored again.

UW’s Roman Achan found a bouncing puck in the slot and scored with about seven minutes left in the second.

Then...well then the wheels fell off the wagon. In the final seven minutes of the second period the Gophers scored three times in just over three minutes to take a 5-1 lead into the second intermission. The Badgers couldn’t backcheck, couldn’t forecheck and couldn’t keep the puck out of their own net.

Starting goalie Cameron Rowe was pulled, although it’s debatable how much of this was his fault, and Robbie Beydoun was inserted into the lineup. The Badgers said before the third period started that they were going to take the final frame five minutes at a time and see if they could claw back into the game.

At the 4:08 mark of the third period, Mike Vorlicky scored his second goal of the season and lit the fuse on a wild end to the Big Ten Title game. Just under 90 seconds later Achan took a pass from Linus Weissbach, fired it on goal, gathered his own rebound and put it in the back of the net, for his second goal of the game, to cut the lead to two, 5-3.

The rest of the period saw the Badgers buzzing around the net but couldn’t quite get another past Minnesota goalie, and player of the tournament, Jack LaFontaine. Beydoun made a number of excellent saves for the Badgers to keep them in the game and then off a faceoff in the Minnesota zone with 2:11 left, Big Ten Player of the Year Cole Caufield sniped a goal to make it 5-4.

Wisconsin couldn’t muster up much more of an attack over the final two minutes even after the pulled Beydoun with a minute left. The Gophers were able to win a race to the puck with 24 seconds left and score an empty netter to win 6-4. It was an excellent third period but a bummer of a final score.

Caufield and Ty Emberson were each named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team.

Beydoun saved all nine shots he faced after coming into the game and the Badgers outshot Minnesota 50-34 while also blocking 18 shots to the Gophers’ 14. Both teams failed to score on their only power play opportunities.

The NCAA Selection Show is on Sunday night at 6 p.m. CST live on ESPNU. While this loss probably removes the Badgers from earning a No. 1 seed, they should be the top No. 2 seed in the tournament.