Sammy Walker's second goal of the game 36 seconds into overtime gave the No. 4 Gophers a 4-3 victory over No. 2 St. Cloud State on Saturday night at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Blake McLaughlin had the lone assist.
The ending was highly controversial, however. Not the winning goal itself, but what led up to it in the 3-on-3 extra period.
The Huskies' Nick Perbix, a 6-4, 200-pound defenseman, had the puck behind his own net when McLaughlin came up behind him and put a stick on Perbix's body. A twisting Perbix fell to the ice as McLaughlin took possession of the puck but then stopped skating and looked back at the official in the corner nearest him, seemingly anticipating a penalty to be called.
None was, so McLaughlin resumed skating to the other side and found Walker in the lower left circle. From there Walker skated to the front of the net for the winning goal.
Many of the fans in a sellout crowd of 5,530 booed and some threw debris like cans and bottles on the ice.
"It was a good hockey game, and for the most part I liked how we played both nights," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. "I felt we deserved to win that game, and I know it's going to be controversial how it played out. We played the way we were supposed to tonight."
Huskies coach Brett Larson had a different view. "I'm embarrassed that it happened," the St. Cloud Times quoted him as saying. "... That a [no] call ruined a great hockey game."
Two of the nation's top teams took turns dominating this game in the first two periods. The Huskies, who edged Minnesota 2-1 at 3M Arena at Mariucci the night before, had a 15-8 shot superiority in the first period, but Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine kept the score close, allowing only one goal. Sam Hentges scored it at 9:51.
The shot disparity continued in the middle period, except the Gophers dominated 15-5 and scored twice, early and late, to take a 2-1 lead.
Aaron Huglen tied the score at 3:20 and Bryce Brodzinski put Minnesota (3-1) ahead at 17:03.
St. Cloud State (4-2) tied the score a second time at 19 seconds of the third period on Jack Peart's goal, but Walker quickly answered 54 seconds later to put Minnesota ahead 3-2.
The Huskies tied the game again at 3-3 on Nolan Walker's power-play goal at 15:51.
LaFontaine finished with 29 saves, the same number as David Hrenak had for the Huskies.