Rau’s OT winner lands Gophers hockey Big Ten title

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Kyle Rau scored the overtime winner on Friday night, as the top-ranked Minnesota men’s hockey squad clinched the inaugural Big Ten title in a 3-2 overtime win over No. 13 Michigan.

Minnesota (25-4-6 overall, 14-2-3-0 Big Ten) has now won a program-record three-straight conference championships. Minnesota won back-to-back MacNaughton Cups as the WCHA regular-season champion in 2012 and 2013.

Friday’s game winner came when Rau lit the lamp 2:44 into the overtime session during a Gophers power play.

The Gophers jumped out to an early lead with Brady Skjei’s fourth goal of the year at 9:20 of the opening stanza. Michigan (17-12-4, 9-8-2-1 Big Ten) would not go quietly, however. The Wolverines scored twice in the second half of the first to take a 2-1 lead.

The Gophers bounced back in a tight battle during the second period, though, with Justin Kloos scoring on a rocket late in the period. After a scoreless third, the Gophers leaned on Rau for a power-play goal that gave Minnesota its first overtime win of the year in seven tries.

Adam Wilcox backstopped the Gophers with another stellar performance in net, registering 22 saves. The netminder moved to 23-4-6 on the season.

The Gophers outshot Michigan 28-24 on the night. Minnesota went 1-for-3 on the power play and was 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.

The Gophers close out the 2013-14 regular season on Saturday night against Michigan at 6 p.m.