No. 1 Irish split series at Minnesota
Michael Ivey | Monday, January 29, 2018
No. 1 Notre Dame spent the weekend up north in Minneapolis playing a conference road series against No. 13 Minnesota.
The Irish fell 1-0 on Friday night on a late overtime goal from Minnesota freshman phenom and Buffalo Sabres first-round draft pick Casey Mittelstadt. Notre Dame rebounded on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over Minnesota in a game that saw the Irish score three power play goals.
On Friday, the Irish (20-5-1, 13-2-0 Big Ten) penalty kill went to work early when junior defenseman Dennis Gilbert went off for hooking at 1:30 of the first period. Sophomore goaltender Cale Morris made two big saves as Notre Dame was able to kill off the penalty. Sophomore forward Cal Burke had a breakaway opportunity during the kill, but his stop was stonewalled by sophomore Minnesota goaltender Mat Robson.
Notre Dame had a power play opportunity at 8:02 of the first period but couldn’t convert. Minnesota (16-13-1, 7-10-1) got another power play opportunity at 17:04 of the period, but Morris once again made two saves to keep the game scoreless. The Irish recorded four shots during the opening period while the Gophers had nine.
Notre Dame tried to break the tie when they went back to the power play 34 seconds into the second period, but shots from junior defenseman Bobby Nardella and senior forward Jake Evans couldn’t find the back of the net. The Irish PK killed off another Minnesota power play in the middle of the second period to keep the game scoreless. Notre Dame recorded nine shots during the second period while Minnesota finished with 13.
Notre Dame had a chance to deliver a huge blow when they went on the power play with under three minutes remaining in regulation. But shots by sophomore forward Cam Morrison and senior defenseman Jordan Gross were turned wide by Robson as the penalty expired. Notre Dame went into overtime with 21 shots on goal, while Minnesota finished regulation with 31.
In overtime, Robson stopped shots from senior forward Bo Brauer, junior forward Andrew Oglevie, freshman forward Colin Theisen and sophomore defenseman Tory Dello before Mittelstadt put home a rebound to end the game at 3:35 of the period.
Morris finished with 33 saves while Robson made 25 in the shutout win.
During Saturday’s game, the Irish got on the board first when a Nardella pass found Gross, whose shot from the point found the back of the net on the power play to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead with 3:19 remaining in the first period. Oglevie also earned an assist on the goal.
Notre Dame struck again on the power play at 9:23 of the second period when Evans tipped a pass from Oglevie past Robson to give the Irish a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota responded with a goal from freshman forward Brannon McManus at 16:12 of the second to cut the Notre Dame lead in half.
With 13:13 remaining in the third period, the Gophers turned the puck over right in front of their net. Junior forward Dylan Malmquist was there to grab the puck and backhand it past Robson to give the Irish a 3-1 lead.
Malmquist sealed the deal when he scored his second goal of the night, another Notre Dame power play goal, with 2:20 remaining in the third period for a 4-1 lead.
Morris saved 16 of the 17 shots he faced on the night to improve his record to 19-3-0.
Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson was pleased with his team’s effort on Saturday, saying it reminded him of how they played earlier this season.
“Tonight was a much better effort, playing the way I thought we played in the first half of the season … It was a tough loss on Friday night,” Jackson said. “Those types of losses, it’s generally hard to come back the second night. They showed some mental toughness and maturity.”
Notre Dame will be back in action this weekend when the team travels to State College, Pennsylvania, for a two game road series against conference-foe No. 14 Penn State.