Gophers hammer away at the net, earn series-opening win versus Notre Dame

It's notoriously hard to get to the net versus Notre Dame's defense, but on this night the Minnesota Gophers all but camped in the Irish crease, with a whopping 54 shots on goal in a lopsided win.

Notre Dame goalie Ryan Bischel battled Minnesota forward Matthew Knies and lots of heavy traffic throughout the Big Ten game between the Gophers and Irish on Friday, November 4, 2022 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.
Matt Krohn / Gopher Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Earlier in the week, Minnesota Gophers freshman forward Jimmy Snuggerud said he liked having Matthew Knies on his line for the talented sophomore’s size and protective ability. But Knies’ skill with the puck is a nice asset as well.

On Friday, Knies scored a shorthanded goal and set up Snuggerud for two more as the Gophers attacked the Notre Dame net relentlessly and emerged with a 4-1 win. Snuggerud got his team-leading seventh and eighth goals of the season.

“Early in the game we had a 1-0 lead and that thing was teetering, but we just kept coming. We just kept coming,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “Pretty strong effort throughout our entire lineup tonight.”

Justen Close had 24 saves and Mason Nevers opened the scoring for the Gophers, who improved to 6-3-0 overall and 2-1-0 in Big Ten play.

The Irish (4-3-2, 1-1-1) got a late goal from Justin Janicke and a valiant, if unsuccessful effort from goalie Ryan Bischel. The former Fargo Force standout had 45 saves in the loss, and weathered storm after storm in and around his crease.


“That’s two weeks in a row we’ve given up too many shots, and a large part of it is we’re not managing the puck very well. They’re going to capitalize whenever we turn pucks over and it seemed like that’s what happened for most of the game,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. “(Bischel) played as well as he could. It certainly wasn’t on him.”

After a scoreless first period, Nevers finally broke the deadlock, converting after a pass from behind the net by Jaxon Nelson.

“It was on my tape before I could even call for it, because he’s so smart,” Nevers said of Nelson.

Minnesota forward Connor Kurth worked the puck around the stick of Notre Dame defender Ben Brinkman in the first period of a Big Ten game between the Gophers and Irish on Friday, November 4, 2022 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.
Matt Krohn / Gopher Sports

Knies got his sixth of the year while killing a penalty, when he blocked a shot then went in alone on a shorthanded breakaway, tucking a backhander between Bischel’s knees.

“I’ve tried that a few times in practice and it’s worked out for me pretty well, so it was kind of a no-brainer when I came down on him,” Knies said. “I kind of blinked quick and it was in the back of the net. I was happy.”

Snuggerud made it 3-0 early in the third, then scored on a 5-on-3 power play, ending Bischel’s night. Jack Williams, a freshman from St. Louis, finished the game in goal for the Irish.

Notre Dame ruined the shutout bid with 46.1 seconds to play. Nevers admitted that Close got many stick taps on his pads and a general apology for just missing the clean sheet.

Chemistry majors

Prior to their home series with North Dakota two weeks ago, Motzko put Knies on a line with Snuggerud and freshman Logan Cooley, and the three have been all but inseparable on and off the ice since then. Cooley and Snuggerud played together for Team USA last season, and Knies has found a connection with them that means offense nearly every shift.


“You see it coming. You’ve got freshman-freshman-sophomore, pretty young guys, but they’re gaining confidence,” Motzko said. “Snuggie is already feeling good. Pucks just come to him and he’s going to score. Logan is playing great in there and Knies is off to a good start.”

Off the ice, the trio can be seen sitting together at Gophers’ women’s games, hanging out on the road and seemingly becoming true friends as well as valued offense for the team. Knies lives next door to Snuggerud in a dormitory, and said he plays the role of the mature upperclassman, even though the other two are just a year younger.

Minnesota forward Jimmy Snuggerud was hooked on the way to the net by Notre Dame's Jackson Pierson in the first period of a 4-1 Gophers win over the Irish on Friday, November 4, 2022 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis. Snuggerud was awarded a penalty shot on the play.
Matt Krohn / Gopher Sports

“I’m happy, and it’s definitely a privilege to play with those two,” Knies said. “They’re kind of crazy. They’re like two little mice. I can’t get them to calm down or sit down by each other. They’re always roaming around. We have a pretty good bond together.”

The trio has a combined 11 points (five goals and six assists) in the Gophers past two games.

Minnesota was dealt a bad hand by the hockey gods in the first period of a game with defending national champion Ohio State, then saw things get lopsided as the Gophers' 13-game win streak ended.
Last weekend, St. Cloud State became the latest top-ranked college hockey team to learn its lofty perch was temporary at best. But many coaches say the polls are the least of their concern.
Known for her offensive skill and her hard-nosed play without the puck, Minnesota Gophers standout Abbey Murphy supplied just enough both, handing Ohio State its first regulation loss since October.
Visiting the University of Minnesota in January, Nathan Airey witnessed high-intensity hockey versus Michigan with a huge crowd looking on. He liked what he saw and picked the Gophers this week.
Yale, Ohio State, Minnesota hold the top three spots heading into the final month of the regular season, with five weeks to go before selection Sunday on March 5.
Eight players from the WCHA have been named to the prestigious list, including three Minnesota natives
The UMD and Swedish national team starter is one of three semifinalists from the WCHA, having been named a semifinalist in the award's inaugural two seasons.
No extra motivation is needed when Ohio State and Minnesota meet at Ridder Arena this weekend. The Buckeyes are top-ranked and have not lost in regulation since October, at the hands of the Gophers.
The collection of WCHA awards being sent to Ridder Arena this season keeps getting bigger and bigger, as a fifth-year forward and a sophomore goalie were honored by the conference.
The freshman forward leads the team and the conference offensively just 28 games into his collegiate career.
The Rink Live reporters discuss Bulldogs sweeping top-ranked Huskies, Minnesota running away with Big Ten, North Dakota sweeps Miami, recap of WCHA action
Needing things to do other than skate, eat and sleep during the holiday break, Colin Schmidt brought a popular board game to campus. In the six weeks since then, Catan has taken the Gophers by storm.

Extra pucks

Healthy scratches from the Gophers lineup on Friday were forwards Colin Schmidt, Carl Fish and Charlie Strobel and defenseman Matt Staudacher.

Bischel stopped Snuggerud on a solo rush to the net early in the first period, but the Gophers forward was slashed on the play and awarded a penalty shot, which Bischel also stopped. It was the first Gophers penalty shot since Jack Ramsey was unsuccessful versus Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry in a 3-2 loss to the Badgers on December 2, 2017 in Minneapolis.

In the third period with the Gophers leading 3-0, Knies was slashed in the act of shooting and awarded a penalty shot. The Gophers opted instead to take a two-minute power play. Notre Dame then took another penalty, and the Gophers scored while on a two-man advantage.


The Gophers conclude the Notre Dame series at 7 p.m. Saturday at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Minnesota 4, Notre Dame 1

Minnesota 0-2-2—4

Notre Dame 0-0-1—1

First period — No scoring. Penalties — Jackson Pierson, ND (slashing – penalty shot), 4:51; Logan Cooley, MN (holding), 19:06.

Second period — 1. MN, Mason Nevers 4 (Jaxon Nelson, Connor Kurth), 7:30. 2. MN, Matthew Knies 6 (unassisted), 14:09, (SH). Penalties — Aaron Huglen, MN (slashing), 3:13.

Third period — 3. MN, Jimmy Snuggerud 7 (Knies, Jackson LaCombe), 5:59. 4. MN, Snuggerud 8 (Knies, Cooley), 12:50, (PP). Penalties — Nick Leivermann, ND (hooking), 6:37; Leivermann, ND (slashing), 12:05; Jake Boltmann, ND (cross checking), 12:18; John Mittelstadt, MN (cross checking), 15:41; Jesse Lansdell, ND (slashing), 17:36; Brock Faber, MN (tripping), 17:36.

Shots on goal — MN 13-17-24—54 ND 10-7-8—25. Goalies — Justen Close, MN (25 shots-24 saves); Ryan Bischel, ND (49-45); Jack Williams, ND (5-5). Power plays — MN 1-of-3, ND 0-of-3. Referees — Jake Rekucki, Kenny Anderson. Linesmen — Dan Cohen, Johnathan Morrison. Att. — 7,774.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
What to read next
Trailing in the second period, the Minnesota Gophers got solid goaltending and woke up offensively to sweep their weekend series versus visiting Michigan State.
It took only nine ticks of the clock for Minnesota Gophers rookie Logan Cooley to give his team a lead, and that was just the beginning of their dominance of the Spartans on Friday.
Four of the Minnesota Gophers' last five games have required overtime to settle, and while the fans and the players find 3-on-3 hockey to be vastly entertaining, their coach has seen enough.
When the Minnesota Gophers need to force overtime lately, they turn to the lanky guy on the blue line with the skills of a defenseman and the instincts of a forward. Also: WCHA honors Heise, Kaiser.