Joanne Norell | March 18, 2019
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame hockey team has been here before.
For the second straight season, the Fighting Irish are heading to the Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Tournament championship game, and they got there thanks to another thrilling postseason overtime victory. It was a situation they found themselves in five times in 2018, when they strung together five conference and NCAA tournament wins either in the game's last minute or in sudden death.
Funny, then, that the hero of Saturday's 2-1 OT victory over Minnesota in the Big Ten semifinal at Compton Family Ice Arena was none other than a freshman in forward Michael Graham.
Not if you're accounting for culture.
Graham picked the right time to record the first game winner of his career when, just 53 seconds into overtime — and 22 seconds into an Irish power play — he took Andrew Peeke's pass from behind the net, curled around the net and flipped a shot over Gopher goaltender Mat Robson's blocker shoulder.
"It just kind of popped out (of the corner) and popped onto my stick," Graham said. "I saw an opening, got lucky and shot it, beating him over the blocker, short side."
Lucky, sure. But when the moment presented itself, Graham didn't blink.
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