Wolverines fall to Minnesota 2-1 in shootout
Pandemonium. On a night in which most fans could have stood up and walked out of Yost Ice Arena, sophomore defenseman Luke Martin and senior right wing Tony Calderone gave everyone in the stadium a reason to stick around by delivering yet another heart-pounding overtime performance.
Just as there were late-game heroics the night before, Martin’s long-distance rip and Calderone’s goal with 1:12 to go in regulation equalized the matchup at six apiece to send the game into overtime for the second time in two nights. Their efforts would subsequently land Michigan in its first shootout of the season.
Coming off a league-shattering victory Friday against No. 4 Minnesota (3-2 Big Ten, 7-4 overall), the Michigan hockey team (2-1, 6-3) looked to complete a sweep of the top team in the Big Ten. But in the shootout, the Wolverines fell, 2-1, though they still technically earned a hard-fought tie.
“Sometimes a tie feels like a loss,” said Michigan coach Mel Pearson. “And sometimes, a tie actually feels like a win. And just the situation we were in to come back and get a tie for NCAA purposes is huge.”
Earlier in the game, though, many would not have been able to predict this heated of a matchup. In a second period that could only be described as chaotic, the Wolverines netted three goals and the Golden Gophers netted two in a span of five minutes to claw their way back to a two-goal deficit.
After the unexpected win the night before, many would expect the Golden Gophers to retaliate with force, and that’s exactly what they did. Sam Rossini fired a wrist shot off a pass from left wing Rem Pitlick that narrowly escaped LaFontaine’s glove 9:34 into the game to give Minnesota a one-goal advantage.
Then, after narrowly avoiding a goal that rang off the post from left defenseman Steve Johnson, the Golden Gophers capitalized twice more – once off right wing Tyler Sheehy’s deflection under LaFontaine, and the second on a breakaway from left defenseman Ryan Lindgren when Michigan was on the man advantage to increase their lead to three.
As the first period came to a close, the picture looked grim for the Wolverines. However, they had seen this 3-0 deficit the night before as well.
“We tried to play better defensively, we tried to manage the puck better,” Pearson said. “It looked like they weren’t trying to make as many plays with the three-goal lead.”
Center Tommy Novak started off the whirlwind second period with a shot through Lavigne’s legs to give the Gophers a four-goal lead, but Calderone calmed the nerves of the Michigan fans in Yost Ice Arena with a goal less than two minutes later to limit the Minnesota lead to three.
“Just stick with it,” Calderone said. “I think we showed a lot of resilience between both games.”
Sophomore right wing Will Lockwood proceeded to deke goaltender Eric Schierhorn and place the puck in the net short-handed for the Wolverines’ second goal, but right wing Brannon McManus quickly silenced the erupting crowd 1:34 later with another goal.
To cap off the barrage of goals, sophomore left wing Jake Slaker broke away 21 seconds later to loose a shot up over Schierhorn’s shoulder and send Michigan into the third period down 5-3.
In a third period where either team could claim the momentum, Pitlick struck first on a breakaway, lifting the puck up and over Lavigne’s glove side for the Golden Gophers’ sixth goal – the most goals forfeited so far this season for the Wolverines.
But just when it seemed like the game was over, Martin, Calderone and junior right wing Brendan Warren scored three clutch goals and sent the game to overtime.
But Michigan’s luck finally ran out in the shootout, as Calderone missed the first penalty shot. While junior forward Cooper Marody redeemed his teammate, Minnesota scored twice to win the shootout and ultimately, the extra point in the standings.