Star Freshman Breaks 0-0 Tie with OT Game Winner
Minneapolis, MN – After playing good hockey in South Bend in November with nothing to show for it, the Minnesota Gophers were hungry to flip the script against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
It took more than the standard 60 minutes, but in the end the hometown fans went home happy.
Minnesota and Notre Dame played yet another exciting hockey game Friday night, with the Gophers dominating the game for the final 40 minutes of action but settling for a 0-0 tie heading into overtime. Casey Mittelstadt scored 3:35 into the five-minute extra session to break the stalemate and give the Gophers a well-deserved victory.
One cold Friday night in November, Minnesota (16-12-1 Overall, 7-9-1 B1G) put 44 shots on Notre Dame (19-5-1, 13-2-0) but had to settle for a 1-0 defeat behind the stalwart goaltending effort of Irish goalkeeper Cale Morris. Morris, who leads the nation in Sv% (.952) and is 3rd in GAA (1.62), looked like he was going to stymie the Gophers yet again, turning aside all 31 Gopher shots he faced in regulation.
Gopher goalie Mat Robson matched Morris’ 60-minute shutout with one of his own, stopping 21-of-21 Notre Dame shots that came his way throughout regulation play. No saves were bigger for Robson and the Gophers than those he made on the penalty kill in the final minutes of the game. Gopher forward Brannon McManus took a tripping penalty with just 2:49 remaining in the 3rd period of a 0-0 tie game, but Robson and the Gopher penalty kill were able to keep the Notre Dame attackers off the board.
In the overtime session, both teams had good opportunities, and both goalies were solid. The winning play was created by Casey Mittelstadt, who poked a puck through a defender’s legs in the neutral zone to create an odd-man rush. Mittelstadt entered the zone, passed the puck to Rem Pitlick in the high slot and continued to the net. Pitlick’s shot caught Morris up high, and the rebound fell right to Mittelstadt at the side of the net, who tucked the puck home for the game-winner at 3:35 of overtime.
Notre Dame, who had previously cruised through Big Ten competition, rattling off 13-straight conference wins and taking a death-grip over the Big Ten regular season crown, has entered what appears to be a mini-slump of late. The Irish have now dropped two games in a row after losing their first Big Ten contest 5-0 last Sunday to Wisconsin in the United Center in Chicago before Friday’s loss to Minnesota. The Irish’s last goal was an empty netter at 19:22 of the previous Friday’s win over Wisconsin, which means that they have gone 124:13 without scoring a goal.
Minnesota, on the other hand, may be rounding into form. After dropping a pair of games at home to Michigan, the Gophers have righted the ship, sweeping Michigan State on the road before notching the win over Notre Dame. Minnesota’s 23 league points are good for T-4th in conference, just one behind Michigan in third and 5 behind Ohio State in second. The Gophers need to finish 4th or better in conference to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, which will be played on campus sites for the first time this season.
Minnesota and Notre Dame square off again Saturday evening at 7PM. The game can be seen on FSN+, streamed on BTN2Go, and heard on AM1130.