MINNEAPOLIS -- Survival. That was the message of the night as the Wisconsin men's hockey team was able to gut out the grittiest 2-2 tie you'll ever seen.
In front of a stunned crowd of 10,263 at Mariucci Arena, the Badgers were able to erase a two-goal deficit in the third period against No. 13/16 Minnesota. UW would go on to add an extra point in the league standings by winning the shootout as well.
Wisconsin (2-12-3, 0-2-1-1 Big Ten) was completely dominated in almost every facet of the game in the series opener, getting out-shot by Minnesota (10-7-2, 1-2-2-0 Big Ten) 49-20 in the process.
The Badgers gave up 20 shots in a lackluster first period, even trailing in the category 18-0 at one point in the opening stanza.
The Gophers took a 1-0 lead 8:14 into the first period on Sam Warning's sixth goal of the season. After a turnover in the corner, Travis Boyd was able to find Warning all-alone out in front of the Wisconsin net.
Thanks to an incredible performance by UW goaltender Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin was able to sneak out of the period only trailing by a goal.
When asked to describe his speech between the first and second period, Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves talked about surviving and advancing.
"We survived that first period, now we play," Eaves said. "That was the message."
After a scoreless second period, the Gophers would take a 2-0 lead on a delayed penalty 6:51 into the third period.
A long-range shot from Jake Bischoff bounced off the hand Minnesota forward Hudson Fasching and it appeared the hometown team would cruise to a victory.
The Badgers were able to kill off the ensuing power play , and finished the game 5-5 on the penalty kill against the top power play team in the country.
Despite the Gophers having most of the momentum in the third period, Wisconsin was able to find some offense from its top line on a bad line change from Minnesota.
Not known as a transition team, the Badgers were able to take advantage of an odd-man rush. Joseph LaBate was able to find Adam Rockwood streaking down the left side, and the freshman waited out an out-stretched Gopher defenseman to feather a pass on the back side to Grant Besse who cut the lead to 2-1 11:09 into the third period.
Just under two minutes later Wisconsin would strike again on a line rush. This time it was Cameron Hughes centering a back-door feed to Jedd Soleway who buried the goal to tie the score at 2-2. The goal was Soleway's third in his past three games after scoring in both games vs. Boston University last weekend.
"Minnesota loves to jump the defensemen (in the play)," Eaves said. "So as they come up the ice and we get the ice, we caught them in transition and had numbers. And we made two really nice plays and the puck ended up in the back of the net."
Minnesota turned up the intensity for the final seven minutes and overtime, but Wisconsin was able to find a way to come out with the tie.
In Big Ten play, teams play a shootout to determine the extra point in the league standings. The Badgers earned the extra point, getting goals from Morgan Zulinick and Besse. Minnesota picked up a conversion Seth Ambroz, but Rumpel was able to turn aside attempts from Kyle Rau and Leon Bristedt.
Besse, a Plymouth, Minn., native was fantastic in the game, finishing with a goal in regulation and the winner in the shootout. Besse also had a team-high six shots on the night, and also was awarded the team's hard hat for his effort.
When asked after the game if he had a little extra juice in his step playing against the Gophers, Besse was reluctant to admit so, but he eventually smirked and gave in.
"You want to be consistent, but maybe a little bit," he said.
Despite the outcome, Wisconsin knows it has a long way to go. The Badgers had to rely on Rumpel to make another career high 47-saves. After the game Eaves noted that it's a lot more fun to learn your lessons after a game like this.
"A lot can be learned from this game," Eaves said. "We take the (two points) and we learn in a good frame of mind. We're not kidding ourselves, we need to get better in a lot of areas. But, when your frame of mind is different, you move forward."
Wisconsin and Minnesota will be back in action Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin.
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