It wasn’t the start the Gophers men’s hockey team wanted to the Big Ten season. The finish, on the other hand, was just fine.
Hudson Fasching scored 68 seconds into overtime to lift the Gophers to a much-needed 3-2 victory over Ohio State on Friday night at Mariucci Arena.
Goalie Eric Schierhorn had 26 saves, and the Gophers (5-7) scored two third-period goals — both on the power play — to climb back from a two-goal deficit and end a three-game losing streak.
“Hey, you always want to win, no matter how it happens,” coach Don Lucia said. “We had some good looks throughout the game. It was just, again, a struggle to score goals.”
Until the third period.
Ohio State goalie Christian Frey had 37 saves for the Buckeyes (3-10, 0-1 Big Ten) and kept the Gophers off the board until Tyler Sheehy tipped in Steve Johnson’s shot from the point 6:10 into the third to cut the lead to 2-1.
Tommy Novak banged home a rebound for the tying goal with 4:27 remaining, and then set up Fasching’s overtime game-winner when he circled behind the Ohio State net and hit Fasching for a one-timer just inside the right faceoff dot.
Fasching’s shot whistled past Frey on the far side.
“I saw Tommy wheeling and I know he’s sneaky, and I was like, ‘He’s going to make it around the back of the net,’ ” Fasching said. “He made a perfect pass right in the wheelhouse. It was a great play by him.”
The win was Lucia’s 400th at Minnesota — a milestone that undoubtedly came much later in this season than many expected.
After being swept at home by No. 7 St. Cloud State last weekend, the Gophers had lost four of their past six entering Friday. But they faced an Ohio State team that started the year 0-7 and hadn’t won at Mariucci since December 1999.
Minnesota controlled play early — only to trail 1-0 after the first. Then Nick Schilkey scored a power-play goal three minutes into the second period to put Ohio State up by two.
While the Gophers offense struggled to finish off plays, Schierhorn kept Minnesota within striking distance with a number of key saves, including twice stopping Ohio State’s Matthew Weis on breakaways.
“Obviously, when we get down a couple goals, that mind-set is always in the back of your head: Oh, not again,” Fasching said.
But the Gophers showed “some resiliency” in battling back, he said. They drew two third-period penalties and capitalized on both man-advantage opportunities.
It might not have been pretty, Fasching conceded, but it was still a win, something the Gophers can build on.
“We definitely needed that,” he said.