For the first time all year, the second-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team lost a WCHA game at Mariucci Arena when it dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision in overtime on Friday against Michigan Tech. Husky captain Brett Olson ended the game 33 seconds into overtime on with a great individual effort.
Minnesota, who entered the game with a 12-1-0 record when scoring first, opened the scoring in just past the midway point of the first period.
Sophomore defenseman Mark Alt's shot from the blueline deflected off MTU forward Patrick McCadden's skate and in to make it 1-0.
After a fortunate bounce put the Gophers in front, an unlucky redirection allowed the Huskies to tie the score.
After stripping a UM defenseman of the puck behind the Gopher cage, freshman left winger Blake Pietila threw a pass in front that deflected off the skate of Minnesota's Travis Boyd. The puck trickled through the legs of goaltender Kent Patterson to knot the score.
Patterson made a tremendous skate save on MTU's Ryan Furne with 10:45 left in the middle stanza to keep the score tied, but the Huskies took the lead early in the third.
With Erik Haula serving an interference penalty that he committed with 34 seconds left in the second, Michigan Tech's Jacob Johnstone took a shot from the point that hit Alt's stick and went through Patterson's five-hole.
The Gophers who were 12-1-0 when tied or leading heading into the third period prior to Friday night, battled back yet again with a third-period goal.
With 13:03 to play, Nate Condon won an offensive zone faceoff back to Alt, who made a one-touch pass to fellow blueline Seth Helgeson. Helgeson fired a one-time shot that hit that Furne and beat MTU netminder Josh Robinson to tie the score.
The Gophers came close to regaining the lead with two scoring opportunites soon after they made it 2-2.
Trying to make a breakout pass, Husky defenseman Carl Nielsen broke his stick and made a defensive zone turnover. Zach Budish collected the loose puck and dished a pass to Kyle Rau in front, but Rau's stick snapped on the shot attempt.
Minutes later, Robinson turned away a breakaway by Condon after the Minnesota winger split the defense on a four-on-four.
With 6:28 left in regulation Patterson came up big again, robbing Pietila on a prime two-on-one scoring opportunity.
The two teams finished regulation deadlocked at two before Olson's heroics gave the Huskies the victory in overtime.
The loss dropped UM to 13-5-1 overall and 10-3-0 in WCHA play. Minnesota is now tied with top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth, who tied Wisconsin on Friday, atop the conference standings.
The Gophers will look to avoid being swept in the regular season for the first time since Dec. 3 and 4, 2010 at Minnesota State when they finish off the first half of their 2011-12 season in the weekend finale. The game is scheduled for 8 p.m.