The Minnesota Golden Gophers have made it to Notre Dame! This is not their first trip ND, but it is their first time coming to Compton Family Ice Arena to play the Irish in a B1G Conference game. The last time these two teams met was on March 25, 2017. The Irish defeated the Gophers 3-2.
The Irish come into the weekend with a 4-0-0 record, the first time in the conference that a team opened league play with a 4-0-0 record. What will this weekend have in store for the Irish? Will it be a sweet apple pie or will it be burnt sweet potato and marshmallows? Let’s get to the action and lets see how the Irish did against the Gophers.
In a walk around the arena something was quite obvious. Gopher fans travel well. Their crimson jerseys were quite noticeable. In my game notes I wrote the word “Deja Vu.” I felt as though I was back a few weeks ago when the Irish played Penn State. That was a slug fest. Friday night was much of the same.
The Gophers came out firing on goal, but Cale Morris showed the Gophers who was boss. The Gophers attempted 82 shots, 44 on goal. The “Brickwall” which another writer and myself have dubbed Morris, allowed zero pucks to get by him all evening.
Andrew Oglevie lit the lamp and put the biscuit between the pipes on the power play to put the Irish up 1-0 for the win, despite the overwhelming 82-39 shot and 44-22 on goal differential in the Gophers favor.
In the post game interview, I asked Coach Jackson about the team learning from the PSU game and handling a team that likes to shoot the puck on net. Jackson responded “shots on goal create chaos sometimes. That’s why its important the goaltender control rebounds as well as he can if your going to have chaos from every loose puck, especially a team with that much speed.”
The Three Stars of the game were as follows #3 Star Eric Schierhorn (Minn), #2 Star Andrew Oglevie and your #1 Star is Cale Morris.
So Friday night was a gem. The messages that came across my phone were just great. I deemed it an “Instant Classic.” Saturday in the arena had a sense of nervousness.
Press personnel talking about ND Football and what could happen after Bama fell to “War Eagle.” Personally I was focused on what I needed to focus on and that was our boys on the ice. The question I had was how would the Gophers respond to the loss the night before? Without any further ado, lets jump into the action for Game 2 of the #4 Fighting Irish versus #6 Golden Gophers.
Unlike Friday night, it didn’t take the Irish too long to score. At 1:36 into the game, Cal Burke put the puck between the pipes from in front of the crease and lit the lamp.
Saturday night saw emotions from Friday night spill over into the first period of this game. The Irish had four penalties in the first period and the Gophers were winning the mental game. If they couldn’t score on 5-5 play, then they needed to create opportunities for some power play chances and they did just that. The Gophers scored at 15:36 on a power play, snapping a 23 consecutive penalty kill run by the Irish.
The second period would start just like the first. Tory Dello, lit the lamp from the goalie’s left side of the crease and put it in the net at 2:45. Jake Evans wanted in on the scoring action as well. He stuck the puck in the net from the goalie’s right side of the crease to put the Irish up 3-1 at 12:09. The Gophers scored again at 15:44 to bring them within a goal at 3-2.
In the third period, the Irish gave the Gophers a dose of their own medicine. The Irish attempted 34 shots to Minnesota’s 9. 19 shots were on goal and two of them ended up in the back of the net. Cal Burke had his second goal of the night at 9:56 and Mike O’Leary got his at 15:01.
This team is on fire. At 12-3-1 overall, they continue to set the pace in the B1G as they improve to 6-0-0 in conference play.
Your 3 stars all come from the Fighting Irish. Your #3 Star is Cam Morrison, #2 Star is Jake Evans and #1 Star is Cal Burke.
In the post game interview, I was the only press person in the room. Coach joked “it must be a football night.” So the pressure was on to ask Coach Jackson a good question with this one-on-one opportunity.
To lead off, I asked Coach “how do you think we played to night?” His responded that he thought they were much better, despite taking some bad penalties, putting themselves in a bad position. At full strength, 5-on5, he was very pleased with their play.
I followed up on the penalties and asked how do you talk to the guy not allowing them to get in your head.” Coach’s response was “that’s the tough thing about college hockey. When you play a team back-to-back two nights in a row, the first night some things brew and the second night they come out. We just got to have better discipline. You can’t take penalties 200 feet away from your net, and we took the first four penalties in the offensive zone.”
The Irish will be away the entire month of December, starting against the Spartans of Michigan State on December 1 and 2. They will head to Wisconsin December 8 and 9.
A side note to close, the Fighting Irish have moved to #3 in the country after this weekends sweep. #GoIrish #BeatSparty and #BeatBadgers