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Badgers drop weekend opener to Minnesota

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MADISON -

Despite lighting the lamp first, the No. 17 Wisconsin men’s hockey fell to No. 12 Minnesota in a back-and-forth battle on Friday night at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers (14-14-4, 8-10-3-1 Big Ten), who led early, came back from a one-goal deficit early in the third to tie the game, but Minnesota (17-13-1, 8-10-1-1 Big Ten) scored late in the third and added an empty-net score for the conference win.

Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead at the 12:45 mark of the first period after junior forward Matthew Freytag caused a turnover at the Minnesota blue line, chipping the puck to senior linemate Matt Ustaski. Ustaski dropped the puck back to Freytag, who one-timed a shot from the circle past Minnesota goaltender Mat Robson.

The lead held through the first intermission and into the second period, until Minnesota scored at the 1:56 mark to tie the game at one apiece.

The score remained 1-1 until Minnesota took a 2-1 lead in the opening minute of the third stanza.

It wasn’t long before UW drew even again as Ustaski tallied his own goal at the 2:14 mark after senior Jason Ford backhanded a pass through the top of the crease that Ustaski knocked past Robson.

Minnesota took the lead for good in the final five minutes, then added an insurance goal on the empty net for the 4-2 win.

Senior goaltender Kyle Hayton made 35 saves for the Badgers.

The Badgers take on Minnesota on Saturday for the final regular-season home game of the year. The 7 p.m. matchup is sold out.

--Wisconsin Athletic Communications

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