Bischel shines in shootout for Notre Dame in 2-2 tie with No. 2 Minnesota
SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame has tried about everything to end a first-game winless streak that had stretched through its last six hockey series before this weekend’s Big Ten set with No. 2 Minnesota.
It only seems fitting that on the opening night of the seventh series — Friday the 13th, no less — that Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish emerged with a 1-0 shootout victory after a 2-2 overtime tie with the Gophers.
The extra point for Notre Dame was provided by junior right wing Ryder Rolston’s shootout tally against Minnesota senior goalie Justen Close, who had 20 saves. Notre Dame senior goalie Ryan Bischel got leg pads on Minnesota’s three shootout efforts after making 36 saves in the 60 minutes of regulation and the 3-on-3 five-minute overtime.
It was as entertaining a game as has been played in the 11-plus seasons of the Compton Family Ice Arena, and the capacity crowd of 4,984 watching around the Lefty Smith Rink saw the Irish gain two points to 17 while improving to 10-10-3 overall and 5-6-2 in the Big Ten.
“It’s two points in the standings and that was key for me — we want to keep creeping up in the standings,” Jackson said. “I thought our guys defended well all night. We were a little flat-footed in the first period, but I thought we played well after that.”
Coach Bob Motzko’s Gophers (16-6-1 overall, 10-2-1 Big Ten) now have 31 points and lead surging Ohio State by seven points and Penn State by nine.
“We were okay tonight — there’s the good thing,” Motzko said. “But it’s also the bad thing — we’ve got to be better than okay. We’re showing a little rust since Christmas. That’s the bad thing. The good thing is we’re going to get through it. But give Notre Dame a lot of credit — they played very hard tonight.”
The Irish victory also came a day after the team received a little pep talk at their team mass late Thursday afternoon from Irish head football coach Marcus Freeman, who was on the road Friday recruiting but tweeted a promise to attend Saturday’s series finale at 6 p.m.
“One shift, one life — that was his message,” said Trevor Janicke, the senior alternate captain and right wing whose second-period goal at 9:34 came after his sophomore brother Justin’s power-play goal at 15:18 in the first period opened the game’s scoring. “He said, ‘Go out there and do you best, and then afterward there’s nothing you can do (but) reset. Every shift is a new shift.’”
Janicke enjoyed his team’s effort. “It was a crazy game, a lot of fun,” he said. “Hopefully this gives us some confidence. Tomorrow’s just as big a night.”
Playing without their graduate captain and leading defenseman Nick Leivermann, sidelined with an upper-body injury, the two Janickes, who grew up in Maple Grove, Minn., just 21 miles or so from the Gophers’ home rink in Minneapolis, scored around a freakish first-period goal by Minnesota’s Mason Nevers at 16:18.
Defenseman Luke Mittlestadt’s initial shot deflected high above Bischel toward the Compton rafters before the puck fell back to the ice and was knocked home by Nevers, his eighth of the season, one more than Trevor Janicke’s Notre Dame team-leading total.
The Gophers have plenty of talent, particularly in their No. 1 line of freshman center Logan Cooley, freshman right wing Jimmy Snuggerud and sophomore left wing Matthew Knies. Cooley, who de-committed from Notre Dame last winter and announced he would attend Minnesota, and Snuggerud both are first-round NHL draft choices and Knies is a No. 2. They managed nine shots but were held scoreless, though both Cooley and Snuggerud hit pipes during the game.
The Gophers got the game-tying goal late in the third period after Motzko had pulled Close for a sixth attacker at 18:55. Senior defenseman Jackson LaCombe’s shot from the point was deflected through a maze of players past Bischel at 19:36.
“Our guys competed for 60 minutes which is something that has been missing on Friday nights,” Bischel said. “Having that mindset with coach Freeman — that one shift-one life (mantra) — was something the guys were saying on the bench and in the locker room. That helped us come together and stay dialed in for 60 minutes.”
The Irish will have to do it all over again Saturday, and it won’t be easy against the Gophers, who earned 4-1 and 3-0 victories against Notre Dame back in November when they emerged as the cream of the Big Ten crop.
NOTRE DAME 2, MINNESOTA 2 (OT)
Notre Dame wins shootout, 1-0
At Lefty Smith Rink in Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend
First Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Justin Janicke 5 (Chayse Primeau, Landon Slaggert) PP 15:18. 2. Minnesota, Mason Nevers 8 (Luke Mittelstadt, Cal Thomas) EV 16:18. Penalties: Minnesota 2-4, Notre Dame 1-2.
Second Period—Scoring: 3. Notre Dame, Trevor Janicke 7 (Jackson Pierson, Jesse Lansdell) EV 9:34. Penalties (total): Minnesota 0-0 (2-4), Notre Dame 1-2 (1-2).
Third Period—Scoring: 4. Minnesota, Jackson LaCombe 5 (Mike Koster, Jaxon Nelson) EA 19:36. Penalties (total): Minnesota 1-2 (3-6), Notre Dame 0-0 (1-2).
Overtime—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Minnesota 0-0 (3-6), Notre Dame 0-0 (1-2).
Shootout—Round 1: Notre Dame Jackson Pierson shot, right skate save by Minnesota goalie Justen Close; Minnesota Mason Nevers shot, Notre Dame goalie Ryan Bischel pad save. Score: 0-0. Round 2: Notre Dame Ryder Rolston scores on wrister over Minnesota goalie Close’s glove (left hand); Minnesota Bryce Brodzinski shot, Notre Dame goalie Bischel makes pad save. Score: 1-0 Notre Dame. Round 3: Notre Dame Trevor Janicke shot, Minnesota goalie Close body save; Minnesota Rhett Pitlick shot, Notre Dame goalie Bischel pad save. Final score: 1-0 Notre Dame.
Shots on goal: Minnesota 38 (14-11-9-4), Notre Dame 22 (8-7-6-1). Goalie saves: Minnesota, Justen Close 20 (7-6-6-1), Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 36 (13-11-8-4).
Power-play opportunities: Minnesota 0 of 1, Notre Dame 1 of 3. Faceoffs won: Minnesota 28 (9-6-9-4), Notre Dame 20 (6-8-6-0). Blocked shots: Minnesota 8 (3-3-1-1), Notre Dame 12 (4-5-2-1).
Referees: Colin Kronforst and Brett Sheva. Linesmen: Jonathan Sladek and Nick Huff. Attendance: 4,984 (4,852). Records: Minnesota 16-6-1, 10-2-1 in Big Ten for 31 points; Notre Dame 10-10-3 overall, 5-6-2 in Big Ten for 17 points.
COLLEGE HOCKEY SATURDAY
Who: Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Where: Lefty Smith Rink at Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend
Faceoff: 6 p.m.
Tickets: Available through UND.com/BuyTickets or at Compton box office
Radio: WZOC-FM (94.3) and UND.com