MINNEAPOLIS -- The story on the scoreboard was a rough one for the Minnesota Gophers, who lost 5-3 to Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 2, after leading 2-0 and 3-2. The story on the final stat sheet might have even been worse.
The Irish won 41 of the game’s 59 faceoffs, and held the Gophers to just two shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, extending Minnesota’s winless streak to four games (0-3-1).
The Gophers (3-4-1 overall, 0-1-1-1 Big Ten) got early goals from Brannon McManus and Jack Perbix to build a 2-0 lead, and had a 3-2 advantage in the second period on Garrett Wait’s first goal of the season, only to see the visitors rally.
Defenseman Nick Leivermann, a sophomore from Eden Prairie, Minn., scored twice for the Irish (5-0-1, 1-0-1-0), who got 24 saves from Cale Morris to take four of the six conference points available in their weekend series.
“We got destroyed on the faceoffs. Destroyed. So you start the entire night on defense and that wears you down,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said, vowing that the team’s centers will get extra work on their faceoff technique. “Give Notre Dame credit on that...that just will not work.”
After allowing the first goal in six consecutive games, the Gophers finally struck first on Saturday when McManus capped a 2-on-1 rush to the Irish net, taking a pass from Sampo Ranta and slipping a shot past Morris for an early 1-0 lead.
After getting thwarted by Morris on a rush to the net early in the first, Perbix, who had originally committed to Notre Dame before staying closer to home for college, made it 2-0 after one period with a shot through traffic that the goalie didn’t see until it had clanked the post and crossed the goal line.
“I came across the circle and I couldn’t see the goalie’s face, which was telling me that he couldn’t see mine,” said Perbix. “So I used the screen and picked the open net and I hit it.”
The Irish got on the board with a power play goal early in the second when Leivermann sent a low shot through a crowd from the blue line. They forged a 2-2 tie on a scramble in front of Moe, with the Gophers unable to clear the loose puck before Spencer Stastney was able to score.
The tie was brief, as Wait scored his second career goal less than a minute later on a pretty play. He was patient with the puck, waiting for both Notre Dame defenders and their goalie to go down, before lifting a backhander into the vacant upper half of the net for a 3-2 Gophers lead.
“He kind of was nonchalant about it on the bench, and gave a ‘let’s go,’ but it’s good for him,” McManus said. “It’s always fun when you see Garrett score. When he gets fired up like that it gets us fired up.”
But Leivermann scored on another long-range shot before the period was over, for a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes.
“It’s really fun to play here, and I know the boys kind of get going,” said Leivermann, who was among six Minnesotans in the Irish lineup. “All of the Minnesotans were excited to be here...We’ve all played here growing up and we’ve all wanted to play here, whether it was for the Gophers or against them.”
After the break, Charlie Raith did the same thing, with a long-range shot that eluded Moe, giving the Irish their first lead with 85 seconds elapsed in the final period.
Trevor Janicke scored into and empty net for the Irish in the closing seconds, and the Gophers were held without a shot for the game’s final 13 minutes.
“That was on us,” Motzko said. “We were chasing the puck the entire night, and we looked very sluggish as the game was wearing on.”
Moe, making his third consecutive start, finished with 34 saves, but Motzko admitted that a few of the Notre Dame goals were shots that he would like to have back.
Notre Dame 0-3-2—5
First period — 1. MIN, Brannon McManus 2 (Sampo Ranta, Jackson LaCombe), 12:34. 2. MIN, Jack Perbix 1 (Jaxon Nelson), 16:13. Penalties — Jake Pivonka, UND (tripping), 7:33.
Second period — 3. UND, Nick Leivermann 1 (Alex Steeves, Graham Slaggert), 5:20, (pp). 4. Spencer Stastney 2 (Cal Burke, Cam Morrison), 13:46. 5. MIN, Garrett Wait 1 (Matt Staudacher), 14:28. 6. UND, Leivermann 2 (Trevor Janicke, Jesse Lansdell), 17:53. Penalties -- Bryce Brodzinski, MIN (holding), 4:35; LaCombe, MIN (hooking), 7:03; Pierce Crawford, UND (elbowing), 10:08.
Third period — 7. UND, Charlie Raith 1 (Matt Hellickson, Tory Dello), 1:25. 8. Trevor Janicke 3 (Morrison, Stastney), 19:49, (en). Penalties — Cam Burke, UND (cross checking), 2:26; Ryan Johnson, MIN (holding), 7:57.
Shots on goal — UND 10-12-17—39; MIN 12-13-2—27. Goalies — Cale Morris, UND (27 shots-24 saves); Jared Moe, MIN (39-34). Power plays — UND 1-of-3; MIN 0-of-3. Referees — Brett Sheva, Jonathon Sitarski. Linesmen — Jonathan Sladek, Johnathan Morrison. Att. — 8,008.