Minnesota's late breakaway goal completes sweep of Notre Dame

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — With the game deadlocked 1-1 heading toward overtime, Minnesota's Blake McLaughlin scored on a breakaway with 7.8 seconds remaining in regulation for a 2-1 Gophers victory that extended No. 9 Notre Dame's losing streak in the Big Ten Hockey Conference to four games.

The Irish fell to 12-8-1 overall and 5-6-0-0 in the Big Ten despite outshooting the Gophers (9-8-4, 6-3-3-0 Big Ten), 35-26, before 4,550 fans at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Jeff Jackson’s Irish take to the road next weekend to play Wisconsin Friday night in Madison at 9. Both teams then travel to the United Center in Chicago for a Sunday evening game at 7:30 p.m.

Jackson opted to make a change in goalies, putting sophomore Dylan St. Cyr between the pipes after junior Cale Morris had surrendered three and four goals, respectively, in Big Ten losses to Michigan (4-2) and the Gophers (5-1).

Morris, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, Mike Richter Goaltender of the Year and 2018 All-American, has seen his goals-against average rise to 2.30 since his 4-0 shutout of Boston College on New Year’s Eve.

St. Cyr, who came into the game with a 2.03 goals-against average, had a 33-save, 3-0 shutout of RPI on Dec. 1 and was playing for the first time since surrendering four goals in relief of Morris in Notre Dame’s 9-1 setback at Penn State Dec. 8 that started the current three-game league losing streak.

For the game, St. Cyr stopped 24 shots, 10 fewer than Minnesota's Mat Robson.

It wasn’t the only change Jackson had to make in the lineup. With junior left wing Cam Morrison sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered Friday night, Jack Jenkins moved up from fourth-line center to center on the first line, sending Dylan Malmquist to left wing with Cal Burke on the right side.

Jenkins put the Irish up 1-0 at 7:29 when he deflected Malmquist’s deflection of a Cal Burke pass from along the boards and the Irish finished the period with 13 shots while allowing Minnesota just six.

In the second period, St. Cyr stopped Sammy Walker at 1:25 and then made saves on Brent Gates Jr. and Tyler Nanne before finally gloving Clayton Phllips’ shot from the point as a cross-checking penalty on Mike O’Leary expired at 4:39.  The Gophers had another power play opportunity that the Irish killed off and then got a third when Notre Dame had too many men on the ice at 10:38.

Minnesota didn’t waste it, tying the game nine seconds later when Brannon McManus directed the puck past St. Cyr, with Sheehy and Rem Pitlick getting assists. Minnesota finished the period outshooting Notre Dame 14-7.

The Irish re-established themselves in the third period with a 9-4 edge in shots on goal in the first 12:48. 

The Irish received another too-many-men penalty at 13:48 of the third period, but the Gophers' McManus was called for slashing 10 seconds later and the teams skated 4-on-4 for the next 1:50.