Gophers men's hockey ties Wisconsin 1-1, loses shootout

The final score will read that the Gophers and Wisconsin tied 1-1 in the finale of a Big Ten hockey series on Saturday night at the Kohl Center and that the Badgers garnered the extra point in the conference standings by winning the shootout 2-0.

Bob Motzko will remember the Border Battle in front of 15,359 for a couple of reasons:

One, "That was the best Gopher game in my six years [at Minnesota], from start to finish," the Gophers coach said during his postgame radio appearance.

Two, "It was two horrendous calls" that denied Minnesota two goals.

The Gophers had one goal overturned on video replay after a Wisconsin challenge. A second goal — possibly the game-winner late in the third period — was waved off on the ice and not overturned when Motzko issued a challenge.

"I thought we deserved a better fate, obviously," he added in his postgame interview session.

The Gophers (16-7-5, 10-3-2 Big Ten) got a second-period goal from Jaxon Nelson and 22 saves from Justen Close. Kyle McClellan starred with 43 saves for Wisconsin (20-6-2, 11-4-1), while Jack Horbach scored in the first period.

Minnesota nearly won the game 15 seconds into overtime, but McClellan stopped Rhett Pitlick in tight. With 56 seconds left in the three-on-three session, Jimmy Snuggerud rang the crossbar with a shot.

Wisconsin won the shootout when McClellan stopped Bryce Brodzinski and Pitlick, while Quinn Finley and William Whitelaw beat Close. The Gophers are 0-for-13 in shootout attempts this season.

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For the Gophers, the game's key moments came earlier with the two non-goals.

Minnesota appeared to tie the score 1-1 at 13:50 of the second period when defenseman Ryan Chesley fired a shot through traffic that beat McClellan. However, Badgers coach Mike Hastings challenged for goaltender interference because Gophers center Oliver Moore made slight contact with McClellan at the top of the crease. After a lengthy video review, officials overturned the call.

The Gophers, who outshot the Badgers 43-23, were pressing for the go-ahead goal in the third period and appeared to get it with 2:40 left.

After a scramble in front of the Badgers net, Mason Nevers fired a shot past McClellan for what appeared to be a 2-1 Minnesota lead. Instead, referees waved it off because Nelson collided with McClellan after being nudged off balance by Badgers defenseman Ben Dexheimer. McClellan lay on the ice for several seconds. He got back in position, but Nevers' shot got by him. Motzko challenged the play, but the officials didn't budge.

Instead, the game went on, and McClellan kept shutting the door. The senior transfer from Mercyhurst made 14 saves in the third period, including a lunging stop during which he robbed Aaron Huglen with 4 seconds left. McClellan added three more saves in overtime.

The goalie is a big reason why the Badgers have been the stingiest team in the nation this season, allowing 1.89 goals per game. They are 16-0-2 when scoring first this season.

Still, Motzko felt the Gophers got two more past him.

"They're both goals," he reiterated after the game. "C'mon, everybody in hockey knows that they're both goals."

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.