After trailing for the first time all month, Gophers pull off sweep over Harvard

The Gophers put 50 shots on net Saturday evening.

The Gophers Celebrate the game winning goal in overtime at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Saturday, Nov. 19. They beat Harvard 2-1 in overtime.

Jack Rodgers

The Gophers Celebrate the game winning goal in overtime at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Saturday, Nov. 19. They beat Harvard 2-1 in overtime.

by Owen Mageau

For the first time since Oct. 28, Minnesota found itself playing from behind. The Crimson went up 1-0 in the second period after a puck bounced off the board and left goalie Eric Schierhorn out of position to make the save.

The Gophers had to do something they were unfamiliar with — they mounted a comeback.

The No. 7 Gophers (9-4-1, 3-2-1-1 Big Ten) defeated the No. 13 Harvard Crimson (2-5-0, 2-3-0 ECAC)2-1 in overtime on Saturday. They also won 4-2 on Friday at 3M Arena at Mariucci. 

“I said it might take 50 shots tonight, but if that’s what it takes … that’s what it’s going to take,” said head coach Don Lucia. “It ended up being 50 on the button… Whether you’re ahead or behind dictates a lot of how you play in the third period, so I was happy to see their relentless play and be able to win a game when we were behind after two.”

The Gophers eventually went on to win game one, but things weren’t looking as good for Minnesota the next day. Despite outshooting the Crimson 32-13, Minnesota was trailing behind at 1-0 after two periods.

Minnesota came out and dominated the third period and with just over five minutes remaining, the Gophers were finally able to get one past Harvard’s goaltender Merrick Madsen. Defensemen Steve Johnson let go a slap shot from the left point, which deflected off Madsen’s left pad right on to the stick of a crashing Rem Pitlick. Pitlick put it home and tied the game at one.

“We were getting a lot of shots,” Pitlick said. “It was just a matter of time. Gaining that momentum really helped us and carried us into overtime and helped us get the win.” 

The Gophers used their momentum to draw a penalty with 44 seconds remaining in the game. The ensuing power play carried over into overtime and proved to make the difference. Just 35 seconds into overtime, Minnesota scored the game-winner. Rem Pitlick won a battle in the right offensive corner, and Brent Gates Jr. picked up the loose puck and sent a pass to Tyler Sheehy, who was waiting on the backdoor. Sheehy put the Gophers 50th shot of the night in the net and the celebration began at 3M Arena at Mariucci. 

“That one felt good,” Sheehy said. “That was one of my favorite goals I’ve scored because I think we deserved to win tonight. So, coming out with anything less than a win would be kind of unacceptable.”

On Friday night, Minnesota only outshot Harvard 28-27. The goal scorers for the Gophers were Gates Jr., Pitlick, Johnson and Casey Mittelstadt. The Gophers hopped out to a 4-0 lead and made their fans a little nervous as they allowed Harvard to draw within two in the third. Unlike last weekend, the Gophers held on and won.

It was the third consecutive home sweep for the Gophers. Lucia was impressed with the weekend, because it came against a team he respects.

“It was a good weekend against a quality opponent,” Lucia said. “It was good hockey. I like playing teams like Harvard because they play the game the right way. They play hard whistle to whistle, not much stuff after. They play a good skating game and I think our fans had a very entertaining weekend of hockey.”