Gophers Fall to Wolverines 5-3

Three Michigan Goals with less than four minutes remaining down Minnesota

Ann Arbor, MI – Hockey teams like to be playing at their best late come March.

The Michigan Wolverines (11-17-3 Overall, 4-11-2 B1G) won’t be playing much longer barring several major upsets, but they played their best hockey late in Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-10-2, 12-5-0).

Minnesota scored with 6:12 left in the third to take a 3-2 lead, but three goals with under four minutes left (including one empty-netter) saw Michigan surge ahead to an improbable 5-3 victory.

Minnesota did not trail in this game until late in the third.  The Gophers jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Taylor Cammarata and Rem Pitlick.

Michigan tied the game with two second-period goals of their own.

The third was an up-and-down affair, and it looked like the Gophers may have struck the final blow on Vinni Lettieri’s 18th goal of the season with only 6:12 remaining in the third.  Minnesota actually drew a power play with just 5:49 left in the contest, and a PP goal could have sealed the game.

However, the Gophers took a penalty on the power play which negated the man-advantage and gave Michigan some PP time after the Wolverine penalty expired.  Michigan scored on the ensuing power play opportunity to tie the game at 3-3 with 3:38 remaining in the third.

Michigan scored again on a seeing-eye wrister that found its way through heavy traffic and into the back of the Gopher net with just 2:11 left on the clock.  The goal put the Wolverines up 4-3 for their first lead of the game.

Minnesota pulled goalie Eric Schierhorn with just over one minute remaining, but the Wolverines were able to steal the puck and fire it into the empty net to ice the game at 5-3.

The loss, combined with a Wisconsin win at Penn State Friday evening, means that Minnesota dropped into another tie for first place in the B1G standings with the Badgers.  Both teams have three games remaining to separate themselves and claim the B1G regular season title.

The loss also dropped the Gophers to 5th in the PairWise Rankings, with Western Michigan jumping ahead of Minnesota on the strength of their victory over Minnesota-Duluth Friday night.  The PWR are ever fluctuating until the final game has been played, but Minnesota would be a two-seed in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today.

The Gophers look to rebound and salvage a split Saturday evening.  The game is a 7:30 Central start time, and can be seen on BTN, streamed on BTN2Go, and heard on AM1500.

Go Gophers!