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Gophers men’s hockey looking to continue strong second half of the season against Notre Dame

Minnesota swept Notre Dame earlier this season and outscored them 7-3.
Image by Ethan Fine
Defenseman Ryan Johnson skates away from his opponent with the puck during the Gophers’ matchup against Notre Dame, Oct. 29, 2021. The Gophers won, 4-1.

Gophers head coach Bob Motzko has liked the way his team has played since coming out of Christmas break.

Since the new year, the No. 10 Gophers men’s hockey team has posted a 4-2 record, including a series sweep against Michigan State.

Most recently, Minnesota (14-10) is coming off a split series against Michigan. They played strong hockey, and Motzko was not disappointed in his team’s effort throughout the weekend.

The Gophers made a comeback on Friday, Jan. 21 to win 2-1 in overtime, and despite losing Saturday evening 4-1, Minnesota outshot Michigan 40-19.

“We’re playing good hockey. That’s what I’m going to stick with right now,” Motzko said. “That’s what we have. We got to continue to play good hockey.”

As they head on the road to compete against No. 11/12 Notre Dame for the second series this season between the two teams, Minnesota will look to continue their success against the Fighting Irish.

After this weekend, Minnesota will be without junior co-captain Ben Meyers, sophomore Brock Faber and freshman Matthew Knies, who will compete for Team USA in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

Meyers and Knies lead Minnesota forwards in points with 25 and 23, respectively, through 24 games this season, while Faber ranks second in points for a defenseman with 11.

The Gophers swept Notre Dame at home earlier this season, led by junior Bryce Brodzinski and senior Blake McLaughlin. The two forwards combined for three goals and an assist as Minnesota outscored the Fighting Irish 7-3 over the two-game series.

Minnesota needs the line of Brodzinski, McLaughlin and senior co-captain Sammy Walker to “amp it up,” as Motzko said on Gopher Hockey Weekly. This weekend, the veteran line has that opportunity against a team they dominated earlier this season.

“I think it’s good for us to get on the road. We’ve all had success in this building, and hopefully, we can keep that rolling,” McLaughlin said. “Notre Dame’s a great team. They’re really well-coached and they play a great system of hockey.”

Minnesota has been playing great hockey lately.

The Gophers’s two keys now are: eliminate costly mistakes and convert on more power-play opportunities. In their loss Saturday night against Michigan, Motzko mentioned how the team “made three mistakes” that cost them.

“It’s cleaning up those mistakes that are going to matter come crunch time when the playoffs start,” sophomore Mike Koster said, reflecting on this past weekend. “We can always learn from those small mistakes that a good team can put in the back of the net.”

The puck drops against Notre Dame on Friday, Jan. 28, at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 29 at 5 p.m.

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