Irish skaters sluggish in second and No. 7 Gophers prevail, 4-1, in Big Ten opener
MINNEAPOLIS — A poor second period came back to haunt No. 16 Notre Dame against No. 7 Minnesota Friday night in the Big Ten Hockey Conference opening game for both before 6,744 in the 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish were outshot by the Golden Gophers 15-10 and ended up losing 4-1. Coach Bob Motzko’s Golden Gophers (4-3 overall, 1-0-0 Big Ten) got goals from Ben Meyers, Bryce Brodzinski, Mason Nevers and Blake McLaughlin and 28 saves by Irish goaltending nemesis Jack LaFontaine.
The Irish (4-2, 0-1-0 Big Ten) trailed 1-0 after the first-period intermission on Ben Meyers’ goal at 14:46 despite outshooting the Gophers 9-4 in the period. Minnesota then turned on the heat against Galajda, the grad transfer from Cornell, with its 15 shots in the second period.
“Minnesota defends well,” Jackson said when asked if he was frustrated that his team’s edge in the first period didn’t produce any offense against LaFontaine, the reigning Mike Richter Goalie of the Year winner who twice shut out the Irish 3-0 last February in South Bend. “They do good things defensively, and the goalie played well and made some saves.
“We need to get to the net a little bit more,” Jackson continued. “We had some chances, but I don’t think we had any second chances. That’s how you win nowadays. We were flat at the start of the second period. They elevated and we didn’t. That was really the period that made the difference in the game.”
Senior captain Graham Slaggert scored Notre Dame’s only goal of the night — and his second of the season — at 5:31 of the third period when he knocked home his own rebound. The assists went to Slaggert’s sophomore brother Landon and Jesse Lansdell.
The Gophers put the game on ice against Notre Dame goaltender Matthew Galajda (25 saves) on two late goals by Nevers (18:04) and McLaughlin (19:59), the latter into a vacated Irish net.
The Irish did manage to kill off three more penalties Friday night and are now 26-for-26 on the penalty kill this season. But Notre Dame, too, went scoreless in three power-play attempts.
The two teams conclude their Big Ten series Saturday night at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Notre Dame then returns home to play a non-conference series against Holy Cross next Thursday and Friday on the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena. Faceoffs for the games are 7:30 p.m.
MINNESOTA 4, NOTRE DAME 1
At 3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Notre Dame 0 | 0 | 1 — 1
Minnesota 1 | 1 | 2 — 4
First Period—Scoring: 1. Minnesota, Ben Meyers 2 (Ryan Johnson) EV 14:46. Penalties: Notre Dame 1-2, Minnesota 1-2.
Second Period—Scoring: 2. Minnesota, Bryce Brodzinski 5 (Ryan Johnson) EV 5:50. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (2-4), Minnesota 1-2 (2-4).
Third Period—Scoring: 3. Notre Dame, Graham Slaggert 2 (Landon Slaggert, Jesse Lansdell) EV 5:31. 4. Minnesota, Mason Nevers 4 (Matthew Knies, Matt Staudacher) EV 18:04. 5. Minnesota, Blake McLaughlin 2 (Jack Perbix) EN 19:59. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (3-6), Minnesota 1-2 (3-6).
Shots on goal: Notre Dame 29 (9-10-10), Minnesota 29 (4-15-10). Goalie saves: Notre Dame, Matthew Galajda 25 (3-14-8), Minnesota, Jack LaFontaine 28 (9-10-9).
Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 0 of 3, Minnesota 0 of 3. Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 30 (9-13-8), Minnesota 30 (7-10-13). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 12, Minnesota 7.
Referees: Andrew Bruggeman and Jonathon Sitarski. Linesmen: Nicholas Bradshaw and Samuel Shikowsky. Attendance: 6,744 (10,000).
Records: Notre Dame 4-2-0 (0-1-0 Big Ten), Minnesota 4-3-0 (1-0-0 Big Ten).