Ann Arbor, MI – So far into the young 2017-2018 season, the Gophers have started out slow before roaring back into their games, to a good amount of success and #4 ranking in the USCHO poll. Saturday versus Michigan, they tried the opposite tactic, playing well early and jumping out to a lead before settling in and trying to hold it.
It did not go very well.
After scoring the first three goals of the match, the Minnesota Gophers (7-4-0 Overall, 3-2-0 B1G) lost their lead and the game, falling 5-4 in overtime to the Michigan Wolverines (6-3-0, 2-1-0) on the road at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, MI.
While no goals were scored by either team in the first period, Minnesota got on the board early and often in the second with goals from Mike Szmatula, Tommy Novak and Tyler Sheehy. The three goals came in quick succession all before eight minutes had passed in the middle frame and allowed Minnesota to build a commanding 3-0 lead.
Michigan chipped away, though, capitalizing on Gopher mistakes to draw within two less than two minutes after the Sheehy goal. The Wolverines scored yet again with 1:01 left on the clock in the second period to close within one at 3-2.
Michigan was the more aggressive team in the third, and they were able to equalize early, scoring at 3:15 to complete the comeback and knot the game at 3-3. The Gophers found some spunk and bounced right back, getting a goal from Brent Gates just 33 seconds later to regain the lead for Minnesota at 4-3.
Michigan would tie the game again at 4-4 at 6:45 of the third, and despite controlling the play afterwards and gaining a late power play on a Scott Reedy cross-checking minor, the Wolverines had to settle for overtime.
Michigan again were on the right side of the referees in the overtime period, drawing a rare power play in the extra session. The puck bounced the Wolverines’ way just eight seconds into the man-advantage, bouncing off a Michigan face mask and into the Gopher net on an otherwise high and wide one-timed shot to win the game at 5-4 for the home team.
Minnesota and Michigan return to the ice Saturday night at 6pm central. The game is televised on BTN and can be streamed at BTN2GO.