Comeback incomplete, as Irish beat Gophers in OT
Trailing by a pair of goals, Minnesota mounted a spirited comeback that fell just short, after a Notre Dame overtime goal ended the Gophers' winning streak versus the Irish.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Sometimes comebacks just do not come all the way back.
That was the result on Saturday, when the Minnesota Gophers mounted a spirited rally from two goals down on the road, only to fall in overtime. Notre Dame’s Landon Slaggert scored on a rebound just 22 seconds into the extra session as the Irish won 3-2 to salvage two standings points in their season series with the Gophers.
Trailing by two goals after the first 20 minutes, Bryce Brodzinski and Ben Meyers scored to tie the game for the Gophers (15-11-0 overall, 10-6-0 Big Ten) who got 20 saves from Justen Close but saw their road win streak snapped at three.
“We played good tonight. We played one heck of a game,” said Gophers coach Bob Motzko, who has had little but praise for his team since the holiday break. “We hunkered down (after the first period). That Slaggert line scored two big goals for them tonight and that’s what those guys do, but we played our tails off tonight.”
The Irish (18-8-0, 10-6-0) got a pair of early goals, but saw the lead slip away, only to get a break on the opening shift of overtime. The win came thanks in large part to a stellar night in goal from Minnesota native Ryan Bischel, who had 24 saves for Notre Dame.
“He’s a good goalie. You’ve got to get a couple on him to get it in the net,” said Gophers forward Jonny Sorenson. “Put it there and he’ll save the first shot most of the time.”
It was a frustrating first period for the Gophers, who played well and matched Notre Dame stride-for-stride, shot-for-shot, and still found themselves trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes. Max Ellis opened the scoring on a seeing-eye shot from long range that eluded Close’s glove, and Trevor Janicke doubled the home team’s lead, cashing in on a nice 2-on-1 rush.
The Gophers had two power plays in the first, and both were canceled almost immediately via penalties called on the Gophers. They did kill a brief 5-on-3 power play by the Irish in the opening period.
Things changed, dramatically, in the middle frame, as Meyers got the Gophers on the board after just 87 seconds had elapsed, and the visitors dominated the second. Again and again they tested Bischel, out-shooting the Irish 12-3 in the period – with one of the Notre Dame shots coming on a clearing attempt in the final minute – but headed to the locker room still trailing 2-1.
"They elevated in the second. They're a good hockey team, so we were fortunate we held on in the second period," Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. "I thought we played better in the third."
It didn’t take long for Minnesota to forge a tie in the third period, when Brodzinski re-directed a Ryan Johnson shot past Bischel to make it 2-2.
“We kind of made eye contact a little bit. I sort of used my body to get my stick free and he found it,” said Brodzinski, who leads the Gophers with 11 goals. “I didn’t even see the puck go in the net. It was a little trickler, a little floater, but luckily it went in and we feel pretty good about it.”
The Gophers host Michigan State next weekend in Minneapolis.
Notre Dame 3, Minnesota 2, OT
Notre Dame 2-0-0-1—3
First period — 1. ND, Max Ellis 15 (Spencer Stastney, Cam Burke), 4:30 (4-on-4). 2. ND, Trevor Janicke 10 (Landon Slaggert, Graham Slaggert), 16:45. Penalties — Hunter Strand, ND (slashing), 3:25; Sammy Walker, MN (slashing), 3:38; Jesse Lansdell, ND (elbowing), 6:10; Matthew Knies, MN (hooking), 6:37; Ben Meyers, MN (faceoff violation – hand pass), 7:31.
Second period — 3. MN, Meyers 11 (Jackson LaCombe, Knies), 1:27. Penalties — Blake McLaughlin, MN (tripping), 10:57; Jake Boltmann, ND (cross checking), 19:23.
Third period — 4. MN, Bryce Brodzinski 11 (Ryan Johnson, Mike Koster), 1:23. Penalties — None.
Overtime — 5. ND, L. Slaggert 8 (G. Slaggert, Stastney), 0:22. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — MN 8-12-6-0—26; ND 9-3-9-2—23. Goalies — Justen Close, MN (23 shots-20 saves); Ryan Bischel ND 26-24). Power plays — MN 0-of-3, ND 0-of-4. Referees — Jonathan Sitarski, Barry Pochmara. Linesmen — Justin Cornell, Mike Daltrey. Att. — 4,632.