Gophers edge Irish skaters, 2-1, to set up deciding game

Staff reports
ND Insider

MINNEAPOLIS — Notre Dame and Minnesota will play one more time Sunday night to decide which team moves on in the Big Ten Conference postseason hockey tournament.

Cullen Munson scored the game-winner at 3:27 of the third period and the Golden Gophers withstood a power-play goal by Cam Morrison to defeat the Fighting Irish, 2-1, before 2,281 watching inside the 3M Arena at Mariucci Saturday night.

That sets up Game 3 in the best-of-three, first-round series that will be played Sunday night at 7 p.m. Eastern. Either the Irish or Gophers, both 15-14-7, moving into next Saturday’s one-game semifinal at regular-season champion Penn State. The loser likely packs up its gear for the season.

“We had chances to score, we hit the post three or four times,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “But Minnesota played with more urgency tonight. We just have to come back at it again tomorrow. Our special teams kept us in the game — penalty kill did a good job and power play scored a big goal. We just have to find a way to get that second goal.”

The Irish, who won the opening game Friday night 1-0 behind goalie Cale Morris’ third shutout of the season and a goal by Trevor Janicke, outshot the Gophers for the second straight game. Minnesota junior goalie Jack LaFontaine stopped 30 of the 31 Irish shots. Morris finished with 18 saves.

The Gophers opened the scoring at 1:24 of the first period when defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf took a drop pass from Sammy Walker and beat Morris for his first goal of the season. The Irish outshot the Gophers 13-3 in the first period and did not score but came close. Colin Theisen hit the crossbar with just over a minute to play.

Then Alex Steeves, who along with Michael Graham set up Morrison’s 12th goal of the season, hit the post eight minutes into the second period.

Early in the third period, the Gophers went up 2-0 when Munson scored his second goal of the season at 3:27.

The Irish cut the lead in half when Morrison took a cross-crease pass from Graham and tipped the puck past LaFontaine at 10:14 on a power play. Theisen almost tied the game at 11:57 but again hit the crossbar.

Notre Dame, which outshot Minnesota 14-9 in the final period, pulled Morris but did not score.

In the other opening series, both No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 3 seed Michigan completed sweeps on their home ice. The Buckeyes eliminated Wisconsin when Jaedon Leslie’s overtime goal at 1:22 beat the Badgers, 2-1. Michigan goalie Strauss Mann turned away 20 shots for his second straight 3-0 shutout of Michigan State.

Michigan travels to Ohio State next Saturday for the other semifinal series. The one-game championship is set for Saturday, March 21.


3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis

Notre Dame;0;0;1—1


First Period—Scoring: 1. Minnesota, Ryan Zuhlsdorf 1 (Sammy Walker, Blake McLaughlin) EV 1:24. Penalties: Notre Dame 1-2, Minnesota 1-2.

Second Period—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (2-4), Minnesota 0-0 (1-2).

Third Period—Scoring: 2. Minnesota, Cullen Munson 2 (Jonny Sorenson, Joey Marooney) EV 3:27. 3. Notre Dame, Cam Morrison 12 (Michael Graham, Alex Steeves) PP 10:14. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (3-6), Minnesota 1-2 (2-4).

Power-play opportunities—Notre Dame 1 of 2, Minnesota 0 of 3.

Faceoffs won—Notre Dame 27, Minnesota 26.

Blocked shots—Notre Dame 21, Minnesota 23.

Shots on goal—Notre Dame 31 (13-4-14), Minnesota 20 (3-8-9).

Goalie saves—Notre Dame, Cale Morris 18 (2-8-8), Minnesota, Jack LaFontaine 30 (13-4-13).

Records—Notre Dame 15-14-7, Minnesota 15-14-7.

A—2,281 (10,000).

Notre Dame hockey - File Art - Skate