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No luck needed as Gophers blast past Irish in series opener

In a rink where they have historically played well, the Minnesota Gophers scored early and often, blasting past Notre Dame for their third consecutive Big Ten road win on Friday.

Notre Dame vs Minnesota
Teammates Rhett Pitlick (left) and Aaron Huglen (right) congratulated Minnesota forward Tristan Broz after the Gophers rookie scored his second collegiate goal in the first period of the Gophers win over Notre Dame on Friday, jan. 28, 2022 at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- All week, Minnesota coach Bob Motzko preached patience when facing Notre Dame. But the Gophers looked notably impatient to score when facing the Irish.

For the fifth consecutive series, dating back to Thanksgiving weekend, the Gophers won the opener of a two-game series on Friday, Jan. 28, scoring early and often to blast past Notre Dame 5-1.

"Strong, strong game. All four lines were in on the offense tonight," said Motzko, heaping praise on his club after they won their fifth consecutive meeting with the Irish. "Good transition, good team speed, good team defense. One bad penalty kill. That was it...It was awful strong by us."

Needing a win to keep pace with conference leaders Ohio State and Michigan, the Gophers 15-10-0 overall, 10-5-0 Big Ten) got a pair of goals from Blake McLauhglin, who now has 9 goals in 12 career games played at Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena. Grant Cruikshank, Tristan Broz and Sammy Walker added goals for the Gophers, who got a career high 28 saves from Justen Close.

The opening 20 minutes were something akin to a perfect road period for the Gophers, who built a three-goal lead relatively quickly, and chased the Irish starting goalie after just five shots – three of which went in the net. Cruikshank started things with a seeing-eye wrist shot which was the team’s first shot of the game, and eluded Matthew Galajda for a 1-0 lead.


Grant Cruikshank gave a fist pump after he scored on Minnesota's first shot of the game in the first period of the Gophers win over Notre Dame on Friday, jan. 28, 2022 at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

"It was a great start for us. We've been a great road team all year, and I think we have a nice little comfort when we come on the road with each other," Cruikshank said. "We came out flying. It was great."

Broz got his second collegiate goal just over two minutes later, tipping in a shot by Jackson LaCombe that was stopped, but lingered in the crease just a bit too long.

Then McLaughlin bounced one off the hip of the goalie from behind the goal line. The play began when Close cleared the puck up ice, and the goalie was credited with his first career assist on the scoresheet. Walker scored on the first shot of the second period to make it a four-goal lead.

"This is his building, no question," said Motzko of McLaughlin. "You see that all the time. All hockey players tell you they just love certain buildings and things go well for them."

Notre Dame (17-8-0, 9-6-0) got a second period power play goal from Trevor Janicke to ruin the shutout bid. Matthew Galajda started the game in goal for the Irish, but left after stopping two of the five shots he faced. Former Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Fargo Force goalie Ryan Bischel finished the game with 17 saves.

"That's been a tendency of ours here at home. We don't start well on Friday nights and then it just spiraled out of control after that," said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. "I've got to believe our guys were ready, but not ready in the right way. Most of the problems we had were self-inflicted."

Minnesota teammates Blake McLaughlin (left), Carl Fish (center) and Sammy Walker celebrated McLaughlin's first goal of the game in the first period of the Gophers win over Notre Dame on Friday, jan. 28, 2022 at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

The series concludes with a 5 p.m. CT first faceoff on Saturday.


Minnesota 5, Notre Dame 1

Minnesota 3-2-0—5

Notre Dame 0-1-0—1

First period — 1. MN, Grant Cruikshank 4 (Ryan Johnson, Jack Perbix), 6:05. 2. MN, Tristan Broz 2 (Jackson LaCombe, Carl Fisd), 8:40. 3. MN, Blake McLaughlin 8 (Sammy Walker, Justen Close), 11:09. Penalties — Landon Slaggert, ND (clipping), 14:52; Matthew Knies, MN (hooking), 16:41.

Second period — 4. MN, Walker 9 (Knies, Chaz Lucius), 0:37. 5. ND, Trevor Janicke 9 (Chase Blackmun, Spencer Stastney), 16:24, (pp). 6. MN, McLaughlin 9 (Bryce Brodzinski, LaCombe), 19:25. Penalties — Aaron Huglen, MN (slashing), 1:42; Bench (served by Justin Janicke), ND (too many men), 3:29; Broz, MN (tripping), 15:29.

Third period — No scoring. Penalties — Adam Karashik, ND (charging), 1:06; Rhett Pitlick, MN (hooking) 7:46; LaCombe, MN (roughing after the whistle), 15:25; Karashik, ND (roughing after the whistle), 15:25.

Shots on goal — MN 9-11-4—24; ND 7-12-10—29. Goalies — Justen Close, MN (29 shots-28 saves); Matthew Galajda, ND (5-2); Ryan Bischel ND 19-17). Power plays — MN 0-of-3, ND 1-of-4. Referees — Jonathan Sitarski, Barry Pochmara. Linesmen — Justin Cornell, Mike Daltrey. Att. — 4,711.

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 jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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