Minnesota sweeps Notre Dame

The Gophers outscored No. 15 Notre Dame 9-2 in a two-game series.

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Ben Gotz

Head coach Don Lucia may have been facing his youngest son and alma mater, but his team didn’t hold back.

The Gophers skated past No. 15 Notre Dame on Friday night 5-0 and then came back Sunday with a 4-2 victory.

The Gophers defeated the Fighting Irish in a team effort Friday night, with five different skaters scoring goals and 12 recording points.

Lucia said after the game that his team did a much better job in the offensive zone and played well in transition.

“We played with our knees bent all night long,” Lucia said.

Three Gophers picked up their first goal of the season in the victory, including Swedish freshman Leon Bristedt, who picked up the first goal of his college
career.

“I needed that one,” he said after the game. “I would say that the first goal is always the hardest. Now I’ve got the first goal, so it’s something to go from.”

While the final score read 5-0, the Gophers didn’t pull away until the third period.

The Irish had chances to even the game in the first two periods, but junior goaltender Adam Wilcox kept turning pucks away.

Wilcox picked up the ninth shutout of his career in the victory, and he earned it by turning away several dangerous opportunities, including a 2-on-0 breakaway.

“I was thinking about doing what [goaltender David Leggio] did in the AHL, knocking the net off, but I didn’t,” Wilcox joked after the game. “I started to feel like myself tonight. Kind of back to how I felt last year.”

The Gophers picked up their scoring right away Sunday afternoon with senior forward Sam Warning getting the puck in the net 30 seconds into the game.

“I thought Sam was on this week,” Lucia said after the game. “He comes out, and he makes a beautiful shot on the first shot of the game. Just kind of set the tone.”

Minutes later, sophomore forward Hudson Fasching picked up his fifth goal of the season on the power play. The Gophers’ first two shots went in for goals.

Minnesota exited the first period Sunday up 3-0. The Gophers’ strong offense made Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson pull starting goaltender Cal Peterson before the second period.

In the series, Peterson allowed eight goals in just four periods. Before the Minnesota series, he had been allowing just over two goals per game.

Notre Dame battled back in the second period, scoring two goals to the Gophers’ one. But the Gophers did not wilt.

“They changed their lines around and then made a good push,” Lucia said of Notre Dame. “They started winning races to loose pucks and had a lot of offensive zone time and had some power plays. … Like anything, you’re going to have to withstand some surges.”

The Gophers may have to withstand another injury surge after this weekend, as sophomore forward Vinni Lettieri blocked a shot with his helmet in the second period and didn’t return to the game.

“When you take one to the head like that, you want to be cautious in this day and age, so we’ll see how he is,” Lucia said. “We have [Monday] off, and we’ll see how he is on Tuesday, but you start to get some injuries and other guys have to step up.”