Comeback kids: Gophers men’s hockey wins semifinal game in overtime 3-2 against Michigan

Overcoming a two-goal lead by Michigan, captain Sammy Walker scored in extra minutes to help his team advance to the Big Ten Championship game.

Forward Sammy Walker looks to control the puck during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. The Gophers won 4-1.

Sydni Rose

Forward Sammy Walker looks to control the puck during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. The Gophers won 4-1.

Julianna Landis, Sports Reporter

For the second night in a row, Minnesota men’s hockey needed more than three periods of play to settle the final score.

The overtime heroes of their quarterfinal game, Jaxon Nelson and Sampo Ranta teamed up once again, this time scoring the tying goal to send Minnesota to extra play. Taking a pass from Nelson, Ranta whipped the puck on net and under the right pad of Wolverines’ goaltender Strauss Mann.

Not to be outdone, captain Sammy Walker scored the game-winner in overtime from his knees; rebounding a shot on a chance created by Ben Brinkman and Scott Reedy.

Just as in their first game of the tournament, the Gophers were not rattled by playing from behind. Michigan scored two unanswered goals, one in each of the first two periods, before Minnesota got on the scoreboard.

Junior Nathan Burke struck first for the Gophers, netting their first goal of the game four minutes into the final frame. Jack Perbix registered the only assist on the goal, marking his fifth assist of the season.

With the win, Minnesota moves on to the Championship game of the Big Ten Tournament to face its border rival Wisconsin for the first time in tournament history.

Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said postgame that his team played strong in the third period to reach overtime.

“Give our guys a lot of credit – they stuck with it being down by two and had a terrific third period to get back in it,” Motzko said. “And Sammy Walker – your best players have to come through in big games, and I thought he was outstanding tonight.”