Irish swept by seventh-ranked Gophers in Minneapolis
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, November 1, 2021
In its first major test of the season in Minneapolis, the fourteenth-ranked Irish hockey team fell short, dropping both games to the seventh-ranked Minnesota Gophers by scores of 4-1 and 3-2.
In Friday’s 4-1 loss, it was the Gophers who grabbed the early lead at the end of the first period despite the Irish having multiple chances to score off of an early power play. With five minutes remaining in the first period, it was Ben Myers of the Gophers who buried a wrap-around shot in the net after the puck deflected off a leg of an Irish defenseman.
The Gophers would build on their lead in the second period with Bryce Brodzinski burying a wrist shot at 14:10 in the second period to double the lead for the Gophers and bring the score to 2-0.
The Irish had two power plays to finish off the second period, but they were unable to score despite some good looks. Arguably the best chance for the Irish came with 2:30 remaining in the period with senior forward Cam Burke having a good look from the short side.
The Irish had yet another power play to open the third period, but they were yet again unable to convert with an extra man on the ice.
The Irish were finally able to get on the board at the 5:31 minute of the third period when senior forward Graham Slaggert scored off his own rebound to cut the lead to 2-1. The assists went to sophomore forward Landon Slaggert and junior forward Jesse Lansdell.
After killing off a Gopher power play, the Irish had a great opportunity with just under three minutes remaining in the third period. Junior forward Max Ellis tested Minnesota goaltender Jack LaFontaine, but LaFontaine was able to make the low glove side to maintain the Gophers’ lead. The Gophers then got the puck back and brought it down the other way to score and give the Gophers a 3-1 lead.
The Irish pulled graduate student goaltender Matthew Galajada with just 1:33 remaining to gain an extra attacker, but the Gophers scored an empty netter to secure a 4-1 victory on Friday night.
Saturday’s game was a thriller in Minneapolis with the Irish erasing a one-goal deficit on two occasions, but their comeback ultimately came up short with the Gophers prevailing by a score of 3-2.
After the Irish successfully killed off the first Gophers’ power play of the game, the Gophers were able to break through and take a 1-0 lead with Grant Cruikshank of the Gophers sneaking a shot past junior goaltender Ryan Bischel.
Minutes later, graduate student defenseman Chase Blackmun nearly leveled the game up, but his shot rang off of the post after beating Gopher goaltender Jack LaFontaine.
LaFontaine continued to be the difference-maker for the Gophers throughout the second period, as he prevented multiple good looks from Graham Slaggert, Landon Slaggert and Cam Burke,
The Irish were finally able to score with just 1.7 seconds remaining in the second period. It was Minnesota native sophomore forward Grant Silianoff who tied the game at one apiece off of a rebound from sophomore forward Ryder Rolston.
The Gophers would retake the lead in the third period, but the Irish answered in just 29 seconds with junior forward Solag Bakich tying the game up at 2-2. Bakich was assisted by sophomore defenseman Zach Plucinski and Max Ellis.
With just under six minutes to play, junior forward Trevor Janicke nearly put the Irish in front, but LaFontaine came up big for the Gophers again, saving Janicke’s attempt at the back post.
It was the Gophers who had the final say on Saturday night with Bryce Brodzinski slipping a wrist shot from the faceoff circle through traffic to beat Bischel and secure a 3-2 victory for the Gophers.
Despite the two losses, the Irish penalty kill remains a perfect 27-for-27 to open the season.
The Irish will return to action at the Compton Family Ice Arena where they will face Holy Cross on Thursday and Friday. Both games will begin at 7:30 p.m.