Minnesota splits to stay atop the Big Ten

Hudson Fasching scored in overtime in a 3-2 victory over Michigan Saturday.

Gophers forward Hudson Fasching controls the puck while playing against Michigan in Mariucci Arena on Friday night.

Joe Sulik

Gophers forward Hudson Fasching controls the puck while playing against Michigan in Mariucci Arena on Friday night.

Mike Hendrickson

Hudson Fasching didn’t try to hide his feelings after scoring a game-winning overtime goal Friday.
 
 
“[It’s] awesome, so good,” Fasching said. “We battled right until the end, and it’s just an awesome feeling to be able to stand here right now and have a ‘W’ under the belt.”
 
 
Fasching was just in front of the blue line when he raised his stick far above his head and fired past Michigan goaltender Steve Racine. Racine collapsed onto the ice afterwards as the Mariucci Arena crowd roared.
 
 
Minnesota players jumped from the bench to celebrate a 3-2 win over Michigan. The Gophers lost to the Wolverines 6-2 on Thursday to split the series, which kept Minnesota atop the Big Ten standings with four games to go.
 
 
“It was kind of revenge for us,” sophomore forward Leon Bristedt said Friday. “We didn’t want another game like [Thursday]. We wanted to come back.”
 
 
No. 20 Minnesota (17-14-0, 12-4-0 Big Ten) fumbled a 2-1 lead against No. 6 Michigan (20-5-5, 10-3-3-2 Big Ten) in Friday’s game before winning in overtime. Bristedt and junior forward Vinni Lettieri each scored, but Michigan junior Tyler Motte scored his NCAA-leading 29th goal to tie the game 2-2 late in the second period.
 
 
The Gophers defense limited Michigan’s top-ranked offense to three shots in the third period.
 
 
“We really dug-in in the third period,” head coach Don Lucia said. “[We] didn’t give up much of anything. The guys did a good job.”
 
 
Minnesota’s defense struggled to contain the Wolverines offense the day before, with Michigan junior Alex Kile scoring a hat trick.
 
 
Kile scored a goal in each period, with his third giving Michigan a 4-0 lead with five minutes to go in the third period.
 
 
His last goal was part of a five-minute Michigan scoring barrage, as the team took a 6-0 lead with four third-period goals.
 
 
“They can score in bunches, and they’re a good third-period team,” redshirt junior forward Connor Reilly said after Thursday’s game. “We obviously gave up four, so we can’t be doing that ever.”
 
 
Sophomore defenseman Steve Johnson and freshman forward Tommy Novak scored their third and fourth goals of the season, respectively, shortly after Michigan’s last
goal. But the outcome of the game was already locked.
 
 
The Wolverines had two power-play goals on four chances and allowed only six shots on goal in the first period.
 
 
“We didn’t do much offensively today,” Lucia said after Thursday’s game. “We didn’t have much flow to our game. I don’t think we were a threat.”
 
 
Freshman goaltender Eric Schierhorn finished with 41 saves and allowed eight goals over the two games.
 
 
Minnesota has a one-point lead over Michigan in the standings after the series. The Gophers’ last four games are against the fifth- and sixth-place teams in the Big Ten.
 
 
“We feel good,” Fasching said. “We’re in first place. [It’s] about as good as you can feel, to be honest.”