OMAHA, NEB. - Jake Parenteau is a defensive defenseman. His primary job is staying back, preventing opponents from threatening his goalie.
But on Friday, in his 30th game this season, the sophomore scored his first goal on his only shot of the game.
The timing could not have been better.
Parenteau's goal, from the left point, gave the Gophers a 3-2 overtime victory over Nebraska-Omaha before an announced and stunned crowd of 9,180 at the CenturyLink Center. It came 1 minutes, 46 seconds into the extra period.
"He made a great shot from the point -- I'm not sure who it was," said UNO goalie Ryan Massa. "It found a seam through traffic."
Massa made 29 saves; Kent Patterson had 22 for the Gophers.
"I shot it upper left," said Parenteau, who was scoreless on his first 38 shots on net this season. "I didn't even know it went in until all the guys were chasing me. It felt pretty good. I was just in wonderland."
The Gophers, rated No. 5 nationally in the USA Today poll this week, stayed two points ahead of Minnesota Duluth in the WCHA race with three conference games left.
The Gophers (22-11-1, 18-7-0) have 36 points, UMD 34 after the Bulldogs also won in overtime, 4-3, over Colorado College.
"We just got to keep winning and it [the MacNaughton Cup] is in our hands," Parenteau said. "No one is scared. We should be happy we are in this position right now."
The Gophers looked to be in trouble on Friday. UNO (14-13-6, 11-9-5) trailed 1-0 after one period, but scored twice in the second period, on an even-strength goal just as their power play expired and a shorthanded goal to take a 2-1 lead.
Somebody had to do something to rescue the Gophers. Nick Bjugstad did.
"I had a mistake on their power play and they came down and scored," the sophomore center said. "It was tough that second period. But we bounced back in the third period and Jake Parenteau, with his first goal, came up big time."
To get to overtime, though, the Gophers needed Bjugstad's team-leading 23rd goal in the fifth minute of the third period. It came on a short backhander.
"I came out of the corner and kind of threw it on net," Bjugstad said. "It was kind of a trickler. [Zach] Budish's big rear was right in front of the net. I don't think the goaltender saw it and I didn't really see it go in."
It counted, though.
"It's the end-of-the-season push right here," Bjugstad said. "You have to deal with a little adversity."
A few minutes later, the Gophers' Erik Haula shot wide on a shorthanded, odd-man rush. And, with about seven minutes left, Nico Sacchetti hit the post during a scramble in front of the UNO net on a Gophers' power play. So close.
Two weekends ago, when the Gophers went to overtime at Denver, the loss dropped their record in extra-period games to 1-2-1.
"When you get into overtime, the ice isn't great," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "Then it is about playing a north-south game and trying to keep [the puck] in the offensive zone.
"We did a nice job with that and we got the break tonight and that's sometimes what you need."