It was a wonderful weekend for hockey at Mariucci Arena — for visiting Wisconsin at least.
The No. 1 ranked Badgers went to Minneapolis looking to avenge five years of losses and came away with two satisfying victories.
Friday night’s 4-3 win was special. Saturday’s was so good for the Badgers, it was darn near preposterous.
Junior goalie Brian Elliott saved all 32 shots No. 4 Minnesota sent his way, recording his second shutout of the season in a 4-0 rout.
Junior forwards Jake Dowell and Ross Carlson and sophomore defenseman Joe Piskula each tallied a goal and an assist, and sophomore defenseman Kyle Klubertanz added a goal for Wisconsin.
The win extended UW’s unbeaten streak to 14 games (12-0-2) and kept the Badgers undefeated in Western Collegiate Hockey Association games, with an unfathomable 10-0-2 record. With 22 points in the league standings, Wisconsin (13-1-2) overall, is now eight points ahead of second-place Minnesota (7-5-4 overall, 6-4-2 WCHA).
Saturday marked the first time the Badgers swept Minnesota since Feb. 25-26, 2000 and the first UW shutout of the Gophers since Nov. 12, 1983.
It was the first time Minnesota was shut out at home since losing 5-0 to St. Cloud State March 3, 2000.
Dowell put the Badgers on the board at 8:52 in the first period.
That turned out to be all the help Elliott would need. He stoned 15 Minnesota shots in the first two period combined, then stopped 17 shots on goal in the third period.
The Badgers again turned in a stellar night on the penalty kill, this time forcing Minnesota to go 0 for 7 with the man advantage. In two games, the Badgers held UM’s vaunted power play to a rather pedestrian 1 of 13.
Carlson gave UW a 2-0 edge with 40 seconds left in the first period.
Shortly into a Badger power play, Klubertanz beat Minnesota freshman netminder Jeff Frazee. That gave the Badgers a three-goal advantage at 8:55 in the second.
Piskula’s goal, at 18:30 in the second, gave the Badgers a seemingly insurmountable lead. On this night, Minnesota could not even crack the scoreboard versus Elliott and Wisconsin’s defense, let alone rally as it did Friday.
Frazee made 16 saves on 20 shots in the first 40 minutes of hockey, then was pulled in favor of junior Kellen Briggs. The latter made eight saves and did not allow a goal.
Notable: In the series, Elliott saved 67 of 70 Minnesota shots, a .957 save percentage. That improved Elliott’s season save percentage to .945. By allowing a mere three goals in two games, however, Elliott’s goals-against average actually went up to 1.42.