Gophers upset No. 1 Notre Dame in overtime

Casey Mittelstadt scored the game-winning goal at 3M Arena at Mariucci Friday night.

Freshman forward Casey Mittelstadt reaches to take the puck from Notre Dame defenseman Bobby Nardella on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.

Max Ostenso

Freshman forward Casey Mittelstadt reaches to take the puck from Notre Dame defenseman Bobby Nardella on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.

by Drew Cove

Minnesota’s upset win on Friday came on a walk-off shot.

Gophers freshman Casey Mittelstadt scored the rebound goal to give No. 13 Minnesota (16-12-1, 7-9-1 Big Ten) the upset versus No. 1 Notre Dame (19-5-1, 13-2-0 Big Ten) 1-0 in overtime.

“It’s something you can’t really explain,” Mittelstadt said. “For us, the year hasn’t gone quite how we wanted it to, so to get this one against the No. 1 team was definitely huge.”

Mittelstadt scored the only goal of the game in overtime with 1:25 remaining. The goal sent Minnesota’s bench and the crowd at 3M Arena at Mariucci into a frenzy, with an almost deafening atmosphere.

Minnesota piled onto Mittelstadt around the boards as Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris remained in his net. 

One of the last players to get to the celebration, because of sheer distance, was the winning goaltender, Mat Robson. In his excitement, Robson couldn’t keep steady feet on his way to the pile.

“You guys might see it, I actually fell,” Robson said. “I toe-picked leaving the crease, so I hope the cameras didn’t catch that one.”

Robson saved all 25 shots he faced against Notre Dame. He said that the communication between him and the defense kept the Notre Dame offense away from him. In his performance against the Fighting Irish, Robson recorded his second shutout with the Gophers. Both shutouts came against a top-ranked opponent. Then-No. 1 St. Cloud State also lost to Minnesota 2-0 on Jan. 7.

“It was a classic game, the type we thought it would be,” head coach Don Lucia said. “Especially as it went along, we didn’t crack. That was the big thing for us, that we stayed with it.”

Minnesota dominated in shots for a majority of the game and the style of play kept up consistently through the 60-plus minutes.

The game came to a crossroads with just less than three minutes left in the third period. Forward Brannon McManus took a penalty. Then, Minnesota killed it off and gained momentum right as he came out of the penalty box to spur the attack in overtime.

Morris saved 32 of 33 shots, his third game against Minnesota. Each team held the other off with hits, stick-checks and defensive play to keep the puck away from the team’s goaltenders.

The Gophers recorded another much-needed victory for staying in the NCAA tournament conversation. Minnesota also has a better chance of having home-ice advantage in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. The Gophers haven’t beat the Irish since before they entered Big Ten play — with the last victory coming on Nov. 7, 2015, in a nonconference series. 

“Goal scorers score goals,” Robson said. “[Mittestadt] deserved that one and obviously it’s a nice emotion in the room afterwards, but we’ve just got to remember this feeling and get back to it tomorrow.”