MINNEAPOLIS — In a fitting end to a marquee matchup, national scoring leader Marty Sertich’s goal at 2:43 of overtime gave No. 2 Colorado College a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 1 Minnesota Saturday afternoon at Mariucci Arena.
With the faceoff in the Minnesota zone, Sertich won the draw and Brett Sterling threw the puck on net, where Sertich, skating unmarked, collected the puck, waited out Minnesota netminder Kellen Briggs and roofed a backhander for his 17th goal of the season.
“I just went to the net, and I think Brett Sterling took the shot and it just hit me in the chest and happened to drop in front of me,” said Sertich. “It’s fun to score an overtime goal.”
The loss ended Minnesota’s school-record 20-game home win streak, while extending CC’s unbeaten streak to seven. The significance was not lost on the Tigers.
“That’s a huge win for us,” said Sterling, who scored two goals, added the assist on Sterling’s winner, and took part in an emotional celebration near the Tiger bench afterward. “One versus two, beating Minnesota in Minnesota, and ending a 20-game winning streak.”
The Tigers (17-3-1, 10-3-0 WCHA) — who entered Saturday’s game leading the nation in scoring offense and scoring margin — controlled play, bottling up Minnesota with speed and hustle, and pressure on the penalty kill. Minnesota’s 21 shots on goal in regulation tied a season low.
“I thought we played really well,” said CC coach Scott Owens. “I thought down the stretch that it’d be a shame if we lost this game late or in overtime, because we played as well as we can play.”
Minnesota coach Don Lucia agreed.
“Justice was served,” said Lucia. “We didn’t deserve to win that game, and that’s the bottom line.”
With Minnesota (16-6-0, 9-4-0 WCHA) leading 2-1 after two periods, a controversial goal by Sterling tied it early in the third.
With CC on the power play, Sterling collected the puck in the slot and stuffed it on net. With the puck under the leg of Kellen Briggs (32 saves) and a crowd gathering, referee Derek Shepherd finally ruled that the puck had crossed the line, for Sterling’s second goal of the game and a 2-2 tie at :56. The goal, Sterling’s 19th of the year, tied him with Minnesota’s Ryan Potulny for the national lead.
“The pass came across and I tried to go backside on Briggs,” said Sterling. “I didn’t even see it [go in].”
“I think the only controversy is whether the whistle should have blown,” said Lucia. “I saw the replay and it went in off [Gopher captain Judd Stevens] skate.”
Tiger netminder Curtis McElhinney (20 saves) preserved the tie with a nimble glove save on Stevens’ slapper from the high slot, and Briggs equaled that feat by snatching a short-range shot out of the air minutes later. Minnesota’s Evan Kaufmann had a chance to untie it at 12:31 on a two-on-one break, but McElhinney got a piece of his wrist shot.
The goaltending heroics continued with a minute to go, as Briggs snatched a point-blank wrister from CC’s Jimmy Kilpatrick. Potulny punched a 10-foot shot on net off a scramble in front with 12 seconds left, but McElhinney again came up big to send the game to overtime.
In the opening minutes, it looked like that might not be necessary. Colorado College controlled the flow of play early, dominating territorially and racking up a 9-5 advantage in shots in the first period — all to no avail on the scoreboard.
The Tigers’ best chances came from Aaron Slattengren, who beat three defenders on a rush up the middle only to have Briggs corral a shovel attempt from the slot, and from Sterling, who missed a half-open net from point-blank range by whacking the puck into Briggs’ arm at the 15-minute mark.
Early in the second, though, improved offensive pressure from Minnesota led to the game’s first goal. With the puck banging off bodies in front, Kaufmann corralled it on the left side and fired a hard-angle shot that beat McElhinney to his blocker side for a 1-0 lead at 4:31.
The Tigers tied it up at 10:20. Off a neutral-zone pass from Kilpatrick, Sterling snapped off a hard, high shot that beat Briggs cleanly to his glove side. The goal was Sterling’s 100th point as a Tiger, who joined Sertich in the Tigers’ century club.
But Sterling promptly went off for tripping at 11:16, leading to the Gophers’ second goal. Off a pass from Potulny, Danny Irmen slid out high between the circles and ripped a shot past McElhinney’s glove and just under the crossbar, his 14th goal of the season to make it 2-1 at 12:12.
That led eventually to the tying goal from Sterling, and Sertich’s winner. Owens, who acknowledged that a split would have been acceptable coming in, set his sights higher.
“That’s what happens when you win [game one] — you get greedy,” he quipped.
Lucia, meanwhile, must reset his team’s emotions for Sunday’s rematch.
“Now he important thing for us is to rebound … and play a better, more complete game tomorrow,” he said. The Gophers and Tigers face off Sunday at 4 p.m. CT to finish the regular-season series.