Home woes continue as Irish hockey team is blanked by Gophers for second straight night

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — The season long struggles on the home ice continued for Notre Dame Saturday evening. For the second straight night, the hosts dropped a 3-0 final to No. 5 Minnesota in Big 10 action on the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Notre Dame falls to 10-11-1 overall on the season, including 3-10-1 at home.

Jack LaFontaine stopped 25 shots to post his second shutout in as many nights and his fifth on the season for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota, now 17-5 overall, was coming off a pair of home losses (4-1 and 8-1) to Wisconsin last weekend.

The Irish had scored 14 goals last weekend in a two-game sweep at Ohio State. Notre Dame had also swept two games at Minnesota back on Jan. 15-16.

Sophomore goalie Ryan Bischel, a Minnesota native, made 25 saves for the Irish in his first start since a 3-2 win at Minnesota on Jan. 15.

The teams played a scoreless first period, despite the Irish outshooting Minnesota by a 15-7 mark, with Ryder Rolston and Nick Leivermann having the best chances of the opening 20 minutes.

Two minutes into the second, Bischel made back-to-back point blank stops on Jaxson Nelson and Sammy Walker to keep it scoreless. But Brannon McManus was able to tap a Sampo Ranta pass in at the far post to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead at 4:09 of the second. Just over two minutes later Nathan Burke took advantage of an Irish turnover and gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead at 6:16.

Ranta scored with just under five minutes to play to make the final 3-0.

Minnesota has 39 points, good for first place in the Big 10. The Irish sit in third place with 27 points.

Notre Dame heads back out on the road next weekend with a two-game series at No. 6/7 Wisconsin Friday and Saturday. Game one will be played at 8 p.m. ET, while game two is slated for 5 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on Fox Sports Wisconsin and streamed on BTN Plus.


At Lefty Smith Rink/Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend

Minnesota 0 2 1—3

Notre Dame 0 0 0—0

First Period—Scoring: None. Penalties: Minnesota 0-0, Notre Dame 0-0.

Second Period—Scoring: 1. Minnesota, Brannon McManus 7 (Sampo Ranta, Scott Reedy) EV 4:09. 2. Minnesota, Nathan Burke 3 (unassisted) EV 6:16. 3. Minnesota, Blake McLaughlin () EV 14:22. Penalties (total): Minnesota 2-4 (2-4), Notre Dame 2-4 (2-4).

Third Period—Scoring: 3. Minnesota, Sampo Ranta 14 (Scott Reedy, Brannon McManus) EV 15:11. Penalties (total): Minnesota 1-2 (3-6), Notre Dame 3-14 (5-18).

Shots on goal—Minnesota 28 (7-14-7), Notre Dame 28 (15-6-7). Goalie saves—Minnesota, Jack LaFontaine 28 (15-6-7), Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 25 (7-12-6). Power-play opportunities—Minnesota 0 of 3, Notre Dame 0 of 2. Faceoffs won—Minnesota 21 (7-7-7), Notre Dame 30 (9-9-12). Blocked shots—Minnesota 8 (4-1-3), Notre Dame 9 (2-5-2). Referees—Brett DesRosiers and Sean Fernandez. Linesmen—Bill Hancock and Riley Bowles. Records—Minnesota 17-5-0 (13-5-0-0-0-0 for 39 points and first place in Big Ten), Notre Dame 10-11-1 (8-9-1-1-2-1 for 27 points and third place in Big Ten).

Notre Dame’s Jake Boltmann checks Minnesota’s Mason Nevers off of the puck Friday at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend. The No. 5 Gophers won 3-0, and followed it up with another 3-0 win on Saturday.