It took nearly 70 minutes for one team to emerge as the winner.
No. 15 Michigan (6-6-4 overall, 2-3-4-2 Big Ten) and Minnesota (4-6-4, 2-2-3) were deadlocked at two goals apiece after the 60 minutes of regulation and remained tied after the first five-on-five overtime period.
But with just 12 seconds left in the three-on-three double overtime period, sophomore forward Josh Norris shot the puck between goaltender Mat Robson’s legs and gave the Wolverines the double-overtime victory, 3-2.
Norris’ goal came after a back-and-forth sequence between Michigan and the Gophers, where it seemed like either team could have been the one to break the stalemate.
“We had a two-on-one, great scoring chance,” said Michigan coach Mel Pearson. “(Junior forward Jake Slaker) tried to make a pass to Norris, but he rips it and he rips it — he had no chance at it. And he goes far side, and anytime you miss a shot or pass like that, it’s going to go right around the boards.
“We had two guys driving the net, and we got trapped, and now they go down the other end three-on-two. (Sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes) makes a great play with his stick to thwart the three-on-two and corrals the puck. Smart play. Most guys would have just thrown the puck right away, just get it and throw it. They had a guy in the lane, but he waits. He figures where he could put the puck off the wall. Indirect pass to (Norris) and the rest is history.”
Norris’ overtime winner was the second five-hole goal of the game for the Wolverines.
In the first period, Norris laid the puck back for junior forward Will Lockwood in the high slot. Lockwood skated down the slot and lightly tapped a shot that Robson didn’t react to — as if he didn’t even know Lockwood had shot the puck.
With little acknowledgement by Robson, the puck went between his legs and into the net.
“I was just trying to get the puck on net,” Lockwood said. “Sometimes you get a fortunate bounce. I think (Slaker) or (Norris) was in front, taking his eyes away, and I think I got a fortuitous bounce off someone’s stick and just slid it on the ice there.”
Midway through the second period, Minnesota tied the game at one. After freshman defenseman Nick Blankenburg turned the puck over behind goaltender Strauss Mann, the Gophers were able to fire a flurry of shots at the freshman and poke one through.
“We had a player try to beat somebody one-on-one instead of just shooting it or chipping it in,” Pearson said. “The puck gets turned over and we get trapped. One of our defensemen was down. That’s where we have to manage the game better. We have to understand this level and when you go to the next level, you’ve gotta be better, you’ve gotta be better than that.”
Less than two minutes later, the Gophers missed an open net on a two-on-one breakaway, but the Wolverines were unable to clear the puck down the ice and Minnesota pounced on a chance to take the lead, 2-1.
Michigan wasn’t finished yet though, and the Wolverines continued to find chances in the offensive zone. With three minutes left in the second period, sophomore forward Michael Pastujov passed the puck from deep in the left corner to redshirt junior forward Luke Morgan, who was streaking down the slot.
All it took was a quick tap of the stick from Morgan for his second goal of the year and Michigan tied the game at two goals apiece.
The Wolverines largely dominated the third stanza, but the pressure they put on Robson proved insufficient. For the fourth straight game at Yost Ice Arena, Michigan headed to overtime.
After 65 minutes of five-on-five and then nearly the entire three-on-three overtime period, the Wolverines had a chance to leave with two points for the Big Ten standings.
The rest, as Pearson said, was history.