Notre Dame offense returns in victory at Minnesota

Staff reports
ND Insider

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Jordan Gross and Jake Evans scored power-play goals in the first two periods and Dylan Malmquist had two third-period goals, one unassisted and the second one on a 5-on-3 power play late, as top-ranked Notre Dame ended a two-game losing streak Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over No. 13 Minnesota.

Sophomore goalie Cale Morris stopped just 16 shots as the Irish outshot an opponent for only the eighth time this season, 30-17. The victory improved Notre Dame to 20-5-1 overall and 14-2-0-0 in the Big Ten after consecutive shutout losses.

Coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish maintained an 11-point lead – 39 to 28 – in the Big Ten standings over second-place Ohio State which completed a weekend sweep of Michigan with a 5-3 victory in Columbus Saturday night.

Minnesota, coached by Notre Dame alumnus Don Lucia, fell to 16-13-1 overall and 7-10-1-1 in the Big Ten.

Saturday’s victory over the Gophers was only the third time in the last 12 games Notre Dame has outshot an opponent.

Notre Dame entered Saturday night’s game in the 3M Arena at Mariucci having not scored in their last 124 minutes and 13 seconds.

But senior defenseman Gross, who grew up in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove and was playing in his 145th straight game for the Irish, ended the goal-less string 16:41 into the game. He took a feed from fellow defenseman Bobby Nardella in the deep slot and blasted a shot past Minnesota goalie Mat Robson with the Gophers killing the first of their two penalties on the evening for goalie interference with Morris. Andrew Oglevie also assisted on Gross’ sixth goal of the year.

Just before the midway point of the second period, the Irish went up 2-0 when the puck went off one of the skates of Evans and past Robson at 9:23 on another Irish power play. Oglevie and Gross were both credited with assists. It was the ninth goal of the season for Evans, who was skating in his 117th straight game.

The Gophers cut the lead in half at 16:12 with the teams at even strength when Brannon McManus finished off a 2-on-1 break, beating Morris to his far side. The assists went to Steve Johnson and Casey Mittelstadt, who had the game-winning goal at 3:35 of overtime in Friday’s 1-0 Gophers win.

Malmquist, a junior forward from nearby Edina High School, made it 3-1 Notre Dame at 6:47 of the third period when he picked up a Minnesota turnover and quickly put it behind Robson.

Needing two goals to send the game into overtime, Lucia pulled Robson at 16:26. The Gophers’ Rem Pitlick pulled down Colin Theisen from behind as he tried to get off a shot at the empty net and the Irish late got a 5-on-3 power-play advantage when Ryan Lindgren went off for cross-checking at 17:20.

Malmquist scored 20 seconds after the second penalty, his second goal of the night and sixth of the season with the assists going to Evans and Oglevie, his third of the game.

Robson finished with 26 saves and the Gophers finished 0-for-3 on power plays. Notre Dame, meanwhile, finished 3-for-6 with the man-advantage.

Notre Dame is on the road again next Friday (6:35 p.m.) and Saturday (4:05 p.m.) at Penn State, which lost five of six points at Wisconsin this weekend – losing 4-2 Friday and tying 4-4 Saturday but losing the shootout 1-0. The Irish, who swept the Nittany Lions earlier this season in South Bend, return home Feb. 9-10 to play Ohio State on the Lefty Smith Rink at the Compton Family Ice Arena.