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Big Ten Hockey: Minnesota scores early and often to sweep Badgers

The Gophers scored a season-high nine goals in a dominating 9-2 victory Saturday

Matt Christians/SBN College Hockey

MADISON, WI- 24 hours after shutting out Wisconsin, Minnesota took 12 seconds to reiterate its dominance on the ice against its biggest rival on the road and make a statement. Expecting the Badgers to respond, the visitors did not let up Saturday. The Gophers scored three more times in the first period en route to a 9-2 victory and its fifth consecutive win.

Hudson Fasching opened the scoring off the opening face-off. Seven different Minnesota players scored, including junior Michael Brodzinski,

Ending the second period in his head coach's doghouse with a bad penalty, Brodzinski made up for it int he third period, scoring three goals in the period. He became the first defenseman since Mike Vannelli on January 20, 2007 against Denver to record a hat trick.

"Nice to get one," said Brodzinski, believing the last hat trick he had was back in pee-wees. "It feels like a dream right now. It's nice."

The same leaders which the team was hoping to get production from continue to consistently produce. It's a streak which started back on December 12th against Michigan  when the Gophers came back from an 8-3 defeat to win 3-2, head coach Don Lucia said.

"That was a good way to go into break. You're feeling good about yourself and then we've just followed it up and played good hockey since then," he said.

After the opening goal, Minnesota had the first six shots on net and its four goals by Fasching, Justin Kloos, Ryan Norman and Taylor Camamrata came from its first eight shots.

"That was big for us to score four goals in the first period and keep them off the board," Brodzinski said. "We knew they were going to come out hard and I think we did a very good job shutting them down in the first period."

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves initially pulled starting goaltender Matt Jurusik for Adam Miller after the freshman gave up two goals on four shots. Miller didn't do better. He lasted 7:15 before giving the net back to Jurusik again.

The Badgers played its best hockey of the weekend during the second period, out-shooting Minnesota 15-5. Wisconsin was rewarded for its effort with a pair of goals.

Cameron Hughes shot the puck off of teammate Matthew Freytag and into the net to stop Gopher goaltender Eric Schierhorn's quest to keep Phil quiet the entire weekend. Besse, the 2013 Minnesota Mr. Hockey, continued his success against his home state college, tapping home an Adam Rockwood pass for his sixth goal of the season.

Leon Bristedt scored his twelfth goal this year for Minnesota in the second period and Connor Reilly added his second in as many weeks to Brodzinski's third period trio.

A frightening moment happened in the third period when Wisconsin's Eddie Wittchow launched into Minnesota's Tommy Novak in open ice. Novak was motionless on the ice for several minutes before being helped off under his own power. Wittchow was given a game disqualification, meaning he will automatically miss the Badgers' next game against Alaska January 29th.

Novak was alert postgame. The hit was the second major by Wisconsin on Novak - Aidan Cavallini received one in the first period - and Lucia was unhappy with both hits.

"You can't do that. The open ice hit was something you can't make that hit anymore," said Lucia. " Both majors were him. I don't know if they were targeting or what. Just those are not good plays.

Still, his team - one that now leads the Big Ten and has won 8 of its last 10 games - is playing its best hockey of the year. Minnesota out-scored its border state rival 13-2 on the weekend and is climbing slowly into position to receive an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

Winning 9-2 is sure to turn some heads.

"I think that we're coming for that number one spot like we had last year. I think that if we keep this run going it could be ours by the end of the year," said Brodzinski, a player that knows a few things about going from the doghouse to the penthouse in a rout.