Gophers hockey makes improvements in Notre Dame series

Jared Moe had a combined 63 saves in the weekend series.

Julianna Landis

While the Gophers hockey team didn’t technically walk away with a win this weekend, the team surely has to feel better about it’s performance against Notre Dame after getting swept by Minnesota Duluth a week ago. 

Walker wins extra point for Gophers in Double OT on Friday

Friday’s matchup was scoreless until the second period, when Notre Dame scored right as a penalty on Minnesota’s Sampo Ranta expired, putting Minnesota behind 0-1. With Notre Dame playing their trademark shut-down style of play, the game would continue without another goal until five minutes into the third period, when the goals came raining down for both teams.

In under a minute of ice time, three shots found the back of the net midway through the third period. First came a goal from Gophers’ Nathan Burke. Twenty-five seconds later, Notre Dame’s Trevor Janicke answered right back, regaining the Notre Dame lead. However, the Gophers responded just 18 seconds later as Scott Reedy scored, sending Minnesota into overtime. Through one overtime, the game remained tied, which according to NCAA rules, ended the game. 

However, rules for overtime play are different within the Big Ten Conference than the NCAA. So, while the NCAA stops after one overtime period, the Big Ten goes on to a 3-on-3 second overtime period and a shootout if necessary. So the game went on, and while it wouldn’t go towards his season total, Sammy Walker scored the “game-winning” goal.

Goaltender Jared Moe was strong in net all night for the Gophers, making flashy glove saves that had the crowd roaring in approval. 

“It’s awesome,” Moe said of the crowd’s energy. “We love the student section, all the fans. The more energy the better. It makes the game that much more fun to play.”

Gophers drop second game, 5-3 

After starting in Friday’s game and making a career-high 29 saves through the first overtime period, Moe was back in net for the Gophers on Saturday, beating his previous high in saves with 34. However, it wasn’t enough to stop Notre Dame’s offensive barrage, as the Gophers fell 5-3.  

For just the second time this season, Minnesota scored the first goal of the game, with Brannon McManus scoring 12 minutes into the first period. The Gophers scored another to get ahead of Notre Dame 2-0, as Jack Perbix scored his first collegiate goal with four minutes to spare in the first period.

In the second period, Notre Dame was able to respond quickly, taking advantage of a power-play opportunity. Eden Prarie native Nick Leivermann scored to cut Minnesota’s lead to 2-1. The second period was the busiest of the night, with three more goals scored following Leivermann’s. Notre Dame tallied another to tie the game following an unsuccessful Minnesota power play, but, just like Friday’s game, Minnesota responded quickly as Garrett Wait netted his first of the season. 

“We needed someone to get us going again, and he made a big play at the right time for us,” head coach Bob Motzko said. 

Despite the boost from Wait’s goal, Minnesota’s 3-2 lead wouldn’t last to the end of the period. Leivermann scored another for the Fighting Irish in the final minutes of the second, and the momentum would continue in Notre Dame’s favor into the third. The Fighting Irish gained the 4-3 lead in the opening minutes of the final frame, and they controlled the game completely from there on out, holding Minnesota to only two shots in the third period.

“We played six periods and we generated a lot of offense, we wish we generated more in that last period, but we just couldn’t get it done,” Perbix said. 

Even with the challenges, Motzko said that there were moments in the game where the identity of the young team was coming into focus.

“We grew up in some areas. We saw what our “good hockey” can look like, and it looks pretty good,” he said. “We didn’t sustain it tonight.”