Ann Arbor, MI – Jimmy Snuggerud scored with 4:26 left in the third period as the Minnesota Gophers (5-3-2 Overall, 1-2-0-1 B1G) salvaged a tie on the road against the Michigan Wolverines (5-5-2, 0-3-1-0) Saturday evening. Neither team scored in the 3×3 overtime, and while the game goes down as a tie in the Pairwise rankings, Michigan won the shootout to earn the extra conference point.
Like Friday night’s contest, Michigan got on the board first to grab the first lead of the game. Nick Moldenhauer finished off a flurry of Michigan offensive chances with a goal at 13:40 to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
Minnesota got its offense going late in the second period, dominating the play for a good portion of the middle stanza and putting up 20 shots on goal in the period. The Gophers finally dented the twine on the powerplay at 17:58, as Brody Lamb continued his breakout sophomore campaign with a PP wrister at 17:58 to tie it at 1-1. The goal was Lamb’s sixth on the year, which trails only Snuggerud (7) for the team lead.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Ryan Chesley’s high-sticking penalty just 1:10 after the Lamb goal put Michigan on a late second-period powerplay, and the potent Michigan PP unit scored with just 11 seconds left in the second (against the run of play) to give the Wolverines a 2-1 lead heading into the third. The goal was a huge momentum boost for Michigan, who were getting thoroughly outplayed at the time of the Chesley penalty.
In the third period, Michigan generally looked to have the better of the offensive chances, but several mad scrambles in front of the Gopher goal were melted down by graduate goalie Justen Close, making 37 saves on the night.
Close’s efforts between the pipes kept the Gophers in it, especially during a dangerous Michigan powerplay at 6:55 of the third. As the clock wound down, however, Minnesota remained within reach at just a 2-1 deficit.
The team’s leading goal-scorer made sure that the Gophers wouldn’t go home with a loss. Jimmy Snuggerud banged away at a puck near the crease with just under five minutes to go in the game, finally sliding it underneath Wolverine netminder Jake Barczewski at 15:34 to tie the game 2-2.
Michigan and Minnesota played out the rest of the period in a 2-2 deadlock, and the three-on-three overtime could not decide a winner, either. In the shootout, Seamus Casey’s goal for Michigan was the only goal scored, earning the Wolverines the extra point in the Big Ten conference standings.
For a game that the Gophers never led, and a series in which Minnesota only led for 3:28 and trailed for 65:11, a win and a tie on the road amounts to an overwhelmingly good result. Justen Close once again kept a struggling Gopher team in it long enough for the offense to come to life, and several Gopher forwards had strong goal-scoring weekends (Jimmy Clark and Brody Lamb each had two goals on the weekend).
Up next, Minnesota hosts Notre Dame for a Friday/Saturday weekend series. The two teams have pretty similar records so far, with the Irish sitting at 6-3-2 and coming off a sweep of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Gophers will hope to get Aaron Huglen back for the Notre Dame series, as he was out this weekend with an illness.