DULUTH, Minn. — If you like crazy, unpredictable, momentum-changing hockey, you would’ve loved the finish to Saturday’s nonconference game between Minnesota Duluth and Western Michigan.
A game that appeared to favor each team a number of times in a dazzling third period was ultimately was won by UMD 6-5 in overtime on a MacGregor Sharp goal. A crowd of 4,020 at the DECC was likely too dazed to exit.
Said UMD defenseman Evan Oberg, who had a goal and two assists and assisted on the winning goal: “That third period was one of the craziest I’ve ever been part of. Both teams were capitalizing on every chance they had.”
Said Western Michigan coach Jim Culhane: “From start to finish that game was incredible. The pace, the intensity were incredible.”
Said UMD coach Scott Sandelin: “That was one of those wild games, a game where everything is wide open. But our guys stayed with it, kept coming through, and got the win.”
The undefeated Bulldogs (3-0-1) had to rally from a 3-1 deficit to complete the weekend sweep. Six goals total were scored in the third period, four by UMD. The Bulldogs connected for three in first nine minutes of the period before things really got rocking.
Oberg scored five-on-three from the right point, then passed to Andrew Carroll for a shorthanded goal, followed by freshman Mike Connolly’s power-play goal. That made it 4-3 UMD with 11:37 left in regulation.
UMD goalie Alex Stalock missed a pass while in the right corner of the defensive zone, and the puck carried on behind the net. Western Michigan’s Ryan Watson took control for a shorthanded shot into an empty net for a 4-4 tie with 2:33 left.
UMD’s Jordan Fulton powered a drive from the slot for a 5-4 lead with 90 seconds to go.
Patrick Galivan scored on a pinpoint attempt with 19 seconds remaining to make it 5-5. That came after goalie Jerry Kuhn had been pulled for an extra attacker, and after Sharp had missed an open-net scoring attempt.
The Bulldogs had a strong shift on the winning goal in overtime, with Sharp near the crease for his fourth goal of the season with 2:27 left in the five-minute period.
“You have to have a short memory after you miss [an open net] like that, but I definitely wanted to make amends for that,” said Sharp, UMD’s scoring co-leader. “Oberg came to the middle of the slot, faked a shot and put a pass right on my stick. All I had to do was tip it over the goalie’s leg pad.”
Final shots on goal: UMD 56, Western Michigan of the CCHA 28. The Broncos are 0-7-3 in their last 10 overtime games.
Western Michigan (1-3) went up 3-1 on goals by freshman forwards Greg Squires and Derek Roehl (two) through two periods despite being outshot 37-23.
But the Broncos gave UMD the opening it was looking for by taking two penalties with three seconds left in the second period, including a delay of game for moving the Western Michigan net. The Bulldogs started the third with a two-man advantage and Oberg got his first goal of the season at 45 seconds.
That started a hard-to-believe final 21 minutes.
Kevin Pates covers Minnesota Duluth hockey for the Duluth News Tribune.