MINNEAPOLIS- Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson made some drastic changes before the start of the second period Sunday against top-ranked Minnesota. Jackson removed freshman goaltender Cal Petersen (Buffalo Sabres) for Chad Katunar and tinkered with all three of his top forward lines.
The changes woke up the Fighting Irish as the team played its best hockey of the weekebd over the final forty minutes. Unfortunately for Jackson's team, the opening twenty was too big of a hole to dig out of for Notre Dame.
Minnesota (7-1-0, 0-0-0-0) scored three times in the opening 15:46 and completed the two game sweep with a 4-2 victory in front of announced 9,774 fans at Mariucci Arena.
Taylor Cammarata (New York Islanders) had an assist on all three.
"I enjoy it. I know my time will come for some goals, but for now I'm just enjoying it and making some plays," said Cammarata, who leads the nation with 10 assists in 8 games.
Sam Warning, Hudson Fasching (Buffalo Sabres), Mike Reilly (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Michael Brodzinski (San Jose Sharks) scored for Minnesota. Coming off a 5-0 shutout Friday, it took all of 30 seconds for Warning to continue the run with his third goal of the year.
Fasching, tapping in a pass from Cammarata 7 seconds into Minnesota first power play, and Reilly each made the Fighting Irish pay on the man advantage. By the time Reilly scored the Gophers had more goals (3) than Notre Dame had shots (2).
Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) made 21 saves for the Gophers against Notre Dame (5-4-1, 1-0-1 Hockey East).
"He's a great goaltender. He made some big saves," Jackson said about Wilcox. "We had some good chances and we needed to shoot the puck more. We don't shoot the puck enough and, you know, get people to the net."
The Gophers next face Minnesota-Duluth on Friday and Saturday. The Bulldogs, coming off a sweep of St. Cloud State, have played Minnesota already this year, falling 4-3 in South Bend, Indiana during the season opener for both. Friday's game will be at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. Saturday's finale will be in Duluth at AMSOIL Arena.
Notre Dame travels to Andover, MA next weekend to play Merrimack in a two-game Hockey East series.
-Besides Katunar, who made 21 saves in 40 minutes, Jackson's line combinations differed from the line chart in this way.
Sam Herr - Steven Fogarty - Mario Lucia
Thomas DiPauli - Peter Schneider - Vine Hinostroza
Andres Bjork - Connor Hurley - Jake Evans
Notre Dame's first line featured three players bigger than 6 feet and 200 lbs. The second had speed with a trio freshmen composing the Fighting Irish's third line. Although the changes made a big difference getting shots on net and production, neither of Notre Dame's came from the top 9. Robbie Russo (New York Islanders) snapped a wrist shot past Wilcox on the power play - essentially its second straight - and fourth line senior forward Austin Wuthrich got the other.
-Minnesota sophomore Vinni Lettieri left the game with 8:10 remaining in the second period after taking a shot off his helmet (note: the video is included on that link). He was held out as a precaution. Head coach Don Lucia said after the game that Lettieri would be checked out and he would have an update later in the week.
-Jackson used the off day to skate his players through Saturday following Friday's 5-0 loss hoping to spark something. It didn't work.
"I'll take responsibility for that. We didn't have that level of intensity to start the game," he said.
-Mario Lucia (Minnesota Wild) was given a chance to start the game Sunday in what likely will be the 6'3", 204 lbs junior's final game at Mariucci Arena. Playing in front of friends and family (and of course dad Don), the younger Lucia was scoreless Sunday. It's the first time all year that Mario had been held without a goal over a two game series.
Lucia still leads all NHL Drafted players in college hockey with 8 goals.
-The Gophers are now 5-0 at Mariucci Arena this year and unbeaten in 16 straight home games stretching back to a 6-2 loss to Minnesota-Duluth in November 2013. Including a 1-0 victory outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota's 17 game home unbeaten streak is the longest active one in college hockey and third longest in team history. The last team to beat them, however, is the next one it will face.
Jackson on removing Cal Petersen: "We just tried to change the momentum of the game. Chad's played pretty well for us this year and I thought he played well the rest of the game. He's right there in competition with Cal. I don't want Cal to think it's his job."
Jackson discussing the team's first road test (Notre Dame had played its first 8 games at Compton Family Ice Arena): "We didn't play well 4 of the 6 periods. I thought we played well in the second and third period tonight. We started playing with a lot more jam. We were moving the puck and looked like we were having some mobility. The first four periods we were chasing the whole time. They're a great team, but we were chasing all the time."
Don Lucia, a 1981 graduate of Notre Dame, on his alma matter during the final 40 minutes: "You knew they would probably have to put their rear end after the first period. They changed their lines around and had a good push there in the second period. Obviously they started to win races to pucks and had offensive zone time, had some power play. Sometimes even on the power play when you don't score you can have momentum."
Michael Brodzinski on the play of freshmen and sophomore defensemen with Brady Skjei sidelined: "Everybody stepped up this weekend, especially the freshman defensemen. They are really showing us what they can do and hopefully they can bring that over to next weekend when we play UMD."
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate