It was an evenly matched first period on Friday night between Minnesota and fifth-ranked Notre Dame. Both teams went into the dressing room tied at zero and shots were even at six apiece.
Head coach Bob Motzko even acknowledged his team’s first period after the game when he called it a good first period for the home team. But then the Gophers got sloppy in the second and were clinging to dear life after Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead just 2:58 into the period.
“Turnover, turnover, offside, offside, turnover,” is how Motzko described Minnesota’s play in the second. “There was a handful of times when we turned pucks over it cost us momentum. Frustrating.” The Gophers could not get anything going offensively and were often pinned in their own zone against the Irish.
Several times in that second period, Notre Dame could have scored and broken the game wide open, but thankfully for Minnesota, goaltender Jared Moe came to play. “He had a great game tonight,” said forward Sammy Walker. “He stood on his head and kept us in there.”
Moe made 14 crucial saves in the second period and allowed the Gophers to remain down just one goal headed into the third period. The Gophers had also not scored a goal in five periods headed into the third, a fact that was not lost on Motzko and the team. “We hadn’t scored in five periods. [The team] know that. We needed a goal just to feel good again. What we really needed as Jared Moe to keep doing what he was doing. He was outstanding to keep the game at one.”
Before the period, Moe made a declaration to senior defenseman Tyler Nanne. “I know we’re a good team. I told Nanne before the period we are going to win this game and we went out and won.”
Minnesota sprung to life back in the third, and just over five minutes into the period, they finally got on the board thanks to a Nathan Burke deflection.
However, Notre Dame answered that goal just 25 seconds later to retake the lead. A goal that Moe said just snuck under his blocker and that it was a quick forget it and move on moment. “That’s just one of those that’s a fluke, one of them I have to have.”
The Gophers bailed out their goaltender just 18 seconds later, making it three total goals in a span of 47 seconds, on a Scott Reedy goal that came with a little bit of luck.
Both teams would play evenly to close out the third, and the game went to overtime. Again, both teams traded punches in the first overtime session (five on five), but there was no winner.
The game went to the second overtime session (3-on-3) and the Gophers had a bit more luck in that session thanks to Walker, who already had been an overtime hero earlier in the season.
Blake McLaughlin managed to just barely keep his skates onside after a stretch pass from Ryan Zuhlsdorf, and sprung a streaking Walker who went out front of the net and was able to sneak the centering pass past Cale Morris to get the winner for Minnesota (3-3-1, 1-0-1-1 in Big Ten).
“Zuhlsdorf made a great pass up to McLaughlin and then as soon as I saw him throw it up there I just took off. Blake made a great pass to me and then I just snuck it over,” said Walker of his overtime goal.
The win counted for Big Ten standings purposes but was considered a tie in the NCAA standings.
“It’s a great tie. A fun win,” Motzko declared postgame. “Coming off losing two games it’s a great feeling right now. I want to see our team continue to grow and get stronger in how we want to play. They did a lot of young dumb stuff tonight. It sure feels good after a win that they can grow from it. ”