Sharing is nice with family and friends. Not when it comes to a college hockey trophy like the MacNaughton Cup.
The Gophers, already assured of at least a tie for the WCHA regular-season title, won it outright on Saturday with a stirring third period comeback.
Erik Haula’s shorthanded goal and Nate Schmidt’s power-play goal – three minutes apart -- gave the Gophers a 2-1 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday at Mariucci Arena before an announced crowd of 10,241.
The Gophers (24-12-1, 20-8) trailed 1-0 through two periods before Haula tied the score just under five minutes into the final period. His goal came on a two-on-one rush. He kept the puck, switched from forehand to backhand and found a open seam.
Schmidt made an even better play soon after. He dove to keep the puck in the offensive zone on the blue line. Got up, faked a shot, went around a defenseman and fired from 50 feet.
Haula’s goal was his 15th, Schmidt’s his third.
This is the 13th time the Gophers have claimed the Cup, but the first time since they won back-to-back WCHA championships in 2006 and ’07.
The Badgers had three power plays in the second period and scored on the second one. Tyler Barnes, who scored the first goal on Friday, scored from close-range.
Defenseman Jake Parenteau, standing in front of the net, blocked a Badgers shot. Unfortunately for the home team the puck caromed right to Barnes, a former Burnsville High School standout.
His hard, quick shot found the net for his 10th goal of the season.
The Gophers best scoring chance came when Erik Haula’s eyes got big on a puck lying in the blue paint. A Wisconsin defenseman prevented him from putting the rebound in.
The Gophers were in first place in the WCHA race from start to finish, although UMD did share the top spot for a while in the middle of the season.
They were picked to finish sixth in the coaches’ and media’s preseason polls. Instead, they got off to an impressive 6-0 start with sweeps on the road at UMD and Alaska Anchorage and at home against North Dakota.
Three conference victories in different months were the keys to them winning their 13th MacNaughton Cup.
On Oct. 14, the Gophers beat Minnesota Duluth 5-4 in overtime. Erik Haula scored with 44 seconds left in the third period to tie the score at 4-4. And Nate Condon got the game-winner with 56 seconds in the extra period.
The Gophers beat the defending NCAA champions by the same score the next night.
The second pivotal victory came against archrival North Dakota on Nov. 5 at Mariucci. Freshman Kyle Rau broke a 2-2 tie by scoring in the last minute. The win gave the Gophers a sweep of the Fighting Sioux.
The third big win was more recent. Defenseman Jake Parenteau’s first goal of his career gave the Gophers a 3-2 overtime victory at Nebraska Omaha Feb. 24.
That win started a four-game winning streak heading into the Wisconsin series this weekend.
Notes: Seven seniors and their parents were honored before Saturday’s game. They are forwards Jake Hansen, Taylor Matson, Nico Sacchetti, Nick Larson and goalies Kent Patterson and Jake Kremer.