A fast start by #1 Minnesota[7-1-0, 0-0-0 B1G] gave Minnesota all the cushion they would need to defeat Notre Dame[5-4-1, 1-0-1 Hockey East] by a final score of 4-2 on Sunday evening at Minnesota's Mariucci Arena.
The Golden Gophers played one of their strongest periods of the season in the first period to jump out an early 3-0 lead. Notre Dame would recover after the first period to make the game competitive, but the early deficit was too much for the Irish to overcome.
The scoring started early when Sam Warning put the Gophers ahead 1-0 on the first shift of the game. Power play goals by Hudson Fasching and Mike Reilly on two impressive power plays would send Minnesota to the locker room up 3-0 and spell an early end to the evening for Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen, who was replaced by Chad Katunar after the first intermission.
Notre Dame got on the board with a power play goal from Robbie Russo in the middle of the second period, but Minnesota's Michael Brodzinski answered back with a goal 1:22 later to keep the lead at three goals. Notre Dame would get one more goal with just four minutes remaining in the second period on a one-time blast from Austin Wuthrich. But despite periods of heavy pressure in the third period, they could draw no closer.
Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox picked up his eighth victory of the season, stopping 21 of 23 shots. Cal Petersen played one period and stopped 6 of 9 shots, while taking the loss for Notre Dame. Chad Katunar allowed one goal on 22 shotsd faced in relief of Petersen in the final two periods.
Minnesota will play a home-and-home non-conference series against in-state rivals Minnesota Duluth next weekend, while Notre Dame will travel east for a conference series against Merrimack
Shots on goal: UM: 9-7-15-31 UND: 3-11-9-23
Corsi(even strength shot attempts): UM: 10-15-9-34 UND: 12-16-8-36 (51.4% to 48.6% for Notre Dame)
Prime Scoring Area attempts: UM: 7-6-8-21 UND: 4-9-1-14
Notes and Thoughts
-Minnesota put on quite a show in the first period. They looked as impressive as any team I've seen this year. Their puck movement on their two power plays was impeccable. The even strength possession numbers don't show much domination by Minnesota, but shot quality was definitely in their favor. I can't say enough about what a lopsided period that was.
It's tough to place the blame on Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen. The first goal maybe could have been stopped, but he had no hope on the last two. He was definitely victim to the team playing in front of him.
-Part of the reason for Notre Dame's slow start seemed like they were almost giving the top-ranked Gophers too much respect. They were extremely conservative on the forecheck and basically allowed the Gophers to pick them apart. Once they became more engaged in the second and third periods, the game became a little more even
-Despite the loss, the final two periods were a positive that this young Notre Dame team might be able to build on. I'd put Notre Dame's top two forward lines and top defensive pairing up against just about anybody in the country. Below that, things get a little sketchy, but there's a lot of youth that does have some talent. Coming into tonight's game, Notre Dame's six defensemen had played a combined 199 career games. That's a crazy small number.
-The youngster that stood out of the most for Notre Dame was Maple Grove, Minnesota-native Jordan Gross. He picked a pretty assist on Wuthrich's goal, but what stood out the most is how many times he found teammates while under duress in the neutral zone, rather than just punting the puck. He forms a great pairing with Robbie Russo on Notre Dame's top unit.
-Lots of positives about Minnesota too, that hopefully I'll cover more in-depth this coming week. For now, I'll just mention what an exceptional player Mike Reilly is on the blue line. Minnesota was missing an excellent defenseman in Brady Skjei to injury and didn't miss a beat, in large part because of how well Reilly is playing.
-The first period had all the goals, but it's also worth pointing out what a great third period Minnesota played too. They did take three penalties in the period which gave Notre Dame some extra chances, but they did an incredible job of holding Notre Dame to the perimeter and not allowing any quality scoring chances. Notre Dame had one single attempt in the prime scoring area in the third period, and that was it. Adam Wilcox isn't going to give up a two-goal lead on a bunch of shots from the perimeter.
0:29 Sam Warning from Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata 1-0 Minnesota
Warning skated the puck out from behind the net and circled into the slot, where he fired a wrist shot over the glove of Petersen
6:24 Hudson Fasching from Taylor Cammarata and Mike Reilly (power play) 2-0 Minnesota
Notre Dame won a face-off in their own end, but failed to clear the puck. Reilly fed a beautiful cross ice pass to Cammarata
15:46 Mike Reilly from Taylor Cammarata and Kyle Rau (power play) 3-0 Minnesota
Reilly fired a low wrist shot that was tipped by a Notre Dame defender's stick and up over the shoulder of Petersen.
12:24 Robbie Russo from Steven Fogarty and Thomas DiPauli (power play) 3-1 Minnesota
On a rush into the Minnesota zone, Fogarty hit Russo with a pass as Russo was the trailing the play into the zone. Russo held the puck and waited for a screen to materialize in front of Wilcox, then fired a wrist high to the blocker side that beat Wilcox.
13:36- Michael Brodinski from Sam Warning and Justin Kloos 4-1 Minnesota
Warning dug the puck out of the right corner and fed it to Brodzinski at the right point. The puck was on edge and Brodzinski's wrist shot took a weird trajectory that seemed to fool Katunar.
16:02-Austin Wuthrich from Jordan Gross and Dawson Cook 4-2 Minnesota
On a rush up the ice, Cook hit a trailing Jordan Gross in the high slot with a pass. Gross faked a shot and passed to Wuthrich on his left wing, who took a one-timer that beat Wilcox high.