Gophers secure win and tie against Notre Dame, continuing late-season rally

Minnesota is tied with Penn State for first place in the Big Ten.

The Gophers line up in preparation for their game against Ohio State in Mariucci Arena on Jan. 24, 2020. The Gophers went on to win 6 to 3.

Image by Liam Armstrong

The Gophers line up in preparation for their game against Ohio State in Mariucci Arena on Jan. 24, 2020. The Gophers went on to win 6 to 3.

by Julianna Landis

The Gophers secured a win and a tie in a two-game series against Notre Dame over the weekend. Minnesota now sits at first place in the Big Ten conference standings, tied with Penn State at 36 points. With four games left in the season, the Gophers are set to face the Nittany Lions on the road next weekend.  

Gophers grab extra point in shootout

Minnesota’s first game of the weekend officially ended in a 3-3 tie, but the Gophers took Notre Dame all the way to a shootout to secure an extra Big Ten conference point. 

The Gophers needed only one round of the shootout to end it, with Brannon McManus scoring before goaltender Jack LaFontaine made the save at the other end of the ice. 

Minnesota got to work early in the game, with Scott Reedy scoring less than 30 seconds after the puck dropped. He was assisted by his linemates Blake McLaughlin and Sammy Walker. 

The trio combined again later in the period to build the Gophers lead. McLaughlin got the goal the second time around, but Notre Dame was able to respond just minutes later, with Colin Theisen getting the Fighting Irish on the board. 

After getting one past LaFontaine in the opening period, Notre Dame scored two more in the second. Nick Leivermann tied the game 2-2 early on, and Notre Dame gained a lead on the Gophers while on the power-play later in the period.

In the third period, Walker scored off a deflection assisted by Garrett Wait and Matt Staudacher to tie the game once more and stopping a run of three consecutive Notre Dame goals.

Success in the shootout was something of a second chance for the Gophers. In the second overtime period, they had a chance to end it when Reedy was awarded a penalty shot after Notre Dame’s Nate Clurman was called for interference, but he went wide on the chance and missed. 

Minnesota picks up a win on Saturday, 2-1

The Gophers picked up a pair of third period goals, rallying from a deficit to edge out the Fighting Irish. 

McManus was the catalyst for both goals, forcing a turnover and getting the assist on Ben Meyers’ tying goal three minutes into the period. Minutes later, McManus again set up a goal, getting the primary assist on McLaughlin’s game-winner. 

“I like how we’re playing hockey,” head coach Bob Motzko told Gopher Sports. “We came back this weekend and play a really good weekend, that’s what we want to continue to build on.”

Minnesota started off Saturday’s game in impressive fashion, allowing just one Notre Dame shot on goal through the first twenty minutes of play. They made 15 shots of their own but were unable to get one in the back of the net. Minnesota’s offense fell off in the second, generating just five shots while Notre Dame was able to find the back of the net. 

Despite the goal, Minnesota limited Notre Dame’s offense throughout. LaFontaine finished with 24 saves.