One day, Seth Ambroz will look back as his career as a Gopher and remember this weekend and his four-goal performance against the Wisconsin Badgers. With his help, the Minnesota Gophers completed a weekend sweep of Wisconsin capped off by a 4-3 win on Saturday.
Ambroz got both game-winning goals in the sweep and will no doubt be in the running for the Big Ten’s three stars when they are released later this week as the two win weekend for Minnesota opened play in the new hockey conference.
On top of the junior’s play, the Gophers saw a three-point weekend from junior co-captain Kyle Rau. The strong, but diminutive forward played his usual role as agitator and crashed the net well, notching a goal and two assists in the series.
Goaltender Adam Wilcox, led the Maroon and Gold between the pipes in the sweep and did his part to help silence the few Badgers fans that made their way into Mariucci Arena. It was a nice bounce-back for the sophomore netminder after giving up five goals in a loss to Minnesota-Duluth last weekend.
For head coach Don Lucia, the rivalry between the Badgers and the Gophers transcends what conference the teams are playing in.
“We could be in any conference, and there would still be a rivalry,” Lucia said.
Minnesota last met the Badgers outdoors at Soldier Field in Chicago in the Hockey City Classic. Wisconsin would take the win in the final game as WCHA opponents. For the Gophers and the creation of the new Big Ten Hockey Conference, things seem to be going well as the sweep of their border rival will keep them as the No. 1 team in the country.
The Gophers will face Big Ten foe Michigan State on the road next weekend. Depending on what happens between Michigan and Ohio State on Monday in Columbus, the Gophers could be alone atop the conference standings.
It may be too early to predict how this season will play out at this point, but four big points against Wisconsin to begin conference play could be the difference maker in earning the first-ever Big Ten regular season championship.