Through two periods, the Gophers men’s hockey team could get little going against Notre Dame on Friday night. Minnesota had only 15 shots on goal and Fighting Irish goalie Cale Morris was on his game when the Gophers did apply pressure.
That, however, changed in a flash in the third period and continued into two overtimes in front of an announced crowd of 7,459 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Sammy Walker scored 1 minute, 37 seconds into three-on-three overtime to give Minnesota a 3-2 victory — for Big Ten purposes only — over fifth-ranked Notre Dame. His goal came after the Gophers scored twice in a 43-second span in the third — with a Notre Dame goal sandwiched in between.
The game officially is a tie because it wasn’t decided in the 60 minutes of regulation or the five minutes of five-on-five overtime, but the Gophers gained an extra point in the conference standings by scoring in the three-on-three OT.
“It’s a great tie,’’ Gophers coach Bob Motzko said, “and a fun win in the three-on-three.’’
On the winning play, the Gophers took advantage of Mariucci’s Olympic-sized ice sheet. Defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf hit forward Blake McLaughlin with a long stretch pass at the Irish blue line. McLaughlin kept himself onside, entered the zone, spun and fed Walker charging to the crease.
“As soon as I saw [Zuhlsdorf] throw it up there, I took off,’’ said Walker, a sophomore forward who has two overtime winners this season. “Blake made a great pass to me, and I snuck it in there.’’
Freshman goalie Jared Moe, making his first Friday start after getting the nod on Saturdays during the season’s first three series, kept the Gophers (3-3-1, 0-0-1-1 Big Ten) in the game by making 31 saves. He outdueled Morris, the 2018 Mike Richter Award winner as the nation’s top netminder.
“I told [Tyler] Nanne before the period started, ‘We’re going to win the game,’ ’’ Moe said. “And we went out and did.’’
That came about largely because of how the Gophers flipped momentum during that wild 43-second stretch in the third period.
Trailing 1-0 after Mike O’Leary’s second-period goal for Notre Dame, the Gophers tied it when Nathan Burke beat Morris. It was Minnesota’s first goal in 117 minutes, 5 seconds, going back to the third period of last Friday’s 5-2 loss to Minnesota Duluth.
“We hadn’t scored in five periods. We needed a goal to just feel good again,’’ Motzko said. “But what we really needed was for Jared to keep doing what he was doing. He was outstanding.’’
Only 25 seconds after Burke’s goal, Notre Dame (4-0-1, 0-0-1) regained the lead when Trevor Janicke beat Moe to make it 2-1. The lead didn’t last long, though, because 18 seconds later Gophers center Scott Reedy got the puck past Morris to tie it 2-2.
“For us to come right back and score, that was huge,’’ Walker said.
From there, Moe shut the door on the Irish, surviving some close calls late in the third and making three saves in the overtime periods.
That his team rallied against a veteran Notre Dame club encouraged Motzko.
“I had to have talks with myself about settling down,” he said. “I was way too amped up last week at times in a big series for a young hockey team. … We’re going to be quieter, gentler as these guys grow.’’