Snuggerud scores game-winner in overtime as Gophers top Tommies 6-5

Jimmy Snuggerud’s second goal of the night capped off a Minnesota men’s hockey season-opening victory, 6-5, in overtime against St. Thomas during a back-and-forth affair from Xcel Energy Center Friday night.

Brody Lamb scored twice in a four-minute stretch of the third period that erased a one-goal deficit and put the Golden Gophers in front before the Tommies pushed the game into overtime, scoring with less than seven minutes to play. Snuggerud closed out the night getting the first overtime goal of his career.

The Maroon and Gold struck first as Aaron Huglen buried the opening tally at the 7:45 mark of the first period. The junior corralled a loose puck in the crease and quickly went forehand to backhand for the goal. Jaxon Nelson drew a penalty in the waning minutes of the frame and the Gophers capitalized on the man advantage. Nelson took a drop pass from freshman Oliver Moore and ripped a shot high over the shoulder and into the top corner for a 2-0 cushion with 1:36 remaining in the period.

Minnesota went on another power-play two minutes into the second, but a turnover in the offensive zone allowed St. Thomas an odd-man rush the other way, where it scored to cut the margin to 2-1. The Tommies found the back of the net again six minutes later with a redirected finish that pulled the game level, 2-2. It took a sprawling pad save by the Gophers’ Justen Close to keep the score tied as the home side continued to press its attack. Minnesota fought off a St. Thomas man advantage late in the frame but could not get to intermission before conceding a third goal at the 17:25 mark, trailing 3-2 at the break.

The Tommies made it a two-goal lead only 27 seconds into the final frame and committed a penalty five seconds after the ensuing faceoff. The Maroon and Gold pounced on its opportunity as Nelson won a faceoff and Sam Rinzel pushed the puck across to Snuggerud, who hammered a one-timer from the top of the left circle. The momentum continued as Lamb intercepted an errant pass and wired a wrister for the equalizer, 4-4, 1:21 after the Snuggerud goal.

It was Lamb again at the 6:05 mark as the sophomore slipped into a soft spot around the Tommies’ defense where Moore found him for a one-timer. The Byron, Minn., product finished off his second of the night and Minnesota rallied back for a 5-4 lead. The margin was erased again as St. Thomas got a deflection in front to tie the game with 6:46 to play in regulation.

In overtime, Snuggerud gathered the puck in his defensive zone, pushed up ice and never slowed down as he drove to the net. The sophomore flipped the puck back against his body and into the open corner, sending the Gophers to a 6-5 victory.