It took 63 minutes and 35 seconds for the first goal of Friday night’s contest between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and the Irish have now lost two in a row after winning sixteen straight.
From the opening face-off, it didn’t seem like this would be a game that were to head into overtime scoreless. The Gophers quickly went on the power-play, when Notre Dame defenseman Dennis Gilbert was called for hooking just 1:34 into the first period. The Irish penalty kill answered the call by not giving the Gophers any serious scoring opportunities. Toward the end of the penalty kill, forward Cal Burke stole the puck from Minnesota’s Brent Gates, Jr. to go on a short-handed breakaway, but Mat Robson made the stop for the Gophers.
The puck is down for the third period!— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) January 27, 2018
Here's Cal Burke nearly getting the Irish on the board at the end of the 2nd pic.twitter.com/boYhPqnPav
With 11:58 remaining in the period, the Irish got their first power-play of the game when defenseman Steve Johnson was called for holding, but the Gophers penalty kill did a great job of getting the puck out of their zone and keeping it that way. Minnesota got their second man advantage toward the end of the first period after a cross-check from defenseman Jordan Gross. Despite getting pressure on Cale Morris, the Gophers couldn’t find the back of the net. After one period of play, Minnesota had nine shots on goal compared to just four for Notre Dame.
Both teams had a man advantage in the second period but couldn’t capitalize. Just 34 seconds into the beginning of the frame, physical forward and Minnesota captain Tyler Sheehy was called for interference. Jordan Gross, the Minnesota native with many family and friends in attendance, was sent to the box for the second time of the game for hooking.
Morris continued to be a brick wall for the Irish in the second, showing great rebound control. The Irish defense, which Minnesota coach and Notre Dame hockey legend Don Lucia referred to as the best defensive core in the country prior to the game, couldn’t seem to crowd the net as well as usual. With a strong offensive period, it seemed at many points that Minnesota would break the scoreless tie. However, their goaltender would bail them out, as Morris stopped all thirteen shots on goal by the Gophers in the second. His counterpart stepped up too, stopping all nine of Notre Dame’s shots in the second.
After a sluggish second period by the Notre Dame offense, coach Jeff Jackson decided to change his lines up a bit in the third, but very little of the first half of the period was spent in the Minnesota zone. The Irish were gifted with a huge opportunity at the end of regulation with an offensive zone penalty on the Gophers. Freshman forward Brannon McManus tripped up Irish captain Jake Evans and was sent to the box with 2:49 left in the third period. The Irish power-play unit had a couple good looks at the net, but Minnesota killed off the penalty to send the game to the five minute overtime.
In overtime, Notre Dame got off to a good start, getting some offensive pressure on Robson for the first time in a while. The Minnesota goaltender continued his excellent play, stopped a one-timer from forward Colin Theisen. With just under a minute and a half left, freshman forward and 8th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2017 NHL draft, Casey Mittlestadt tipped the puck through the legs of Theisen in the neutral zone, and passed the puck to forward Rem Pitlick. Pitlick’s shot was stopped by Morris, but Mittlestadt picked up the rebound and found the back of the net for the first and final goal of the contest to send the Minnesota crowd happy.
The Irish fall to 19-5-1 and 13-2-0-0 in Big Ten play. Minnesota improves to 16-12-1 and 7-9-1-1 in Big Ten play. Also worth noting, Notre Dame is now 1-1-1 this season in games that go into overtime. Friday night marks the second time this season that Notre Dame has lost back to back games, with the first being on October 14th and 19th. They’ll hope to avoid losing three straight for the first time this season when the face the Golden Gophers in the second game of the series on Saturday night.
Minn - Casey Mittlestadt (8) at 3:35 of OT, assists from Rem Pitlick (13) and Tyler Nanne (6).
ND - Cale Morris stopped 32 of 33 shots, falls to 18-3-0.
Minn - Mat Robson stopped all 25 shots he saw, improves to 4-1-0.
ND - Dennis Gilbert, 2 for hooking at 1:30 in the 1st
Minn - Steve Johnson, 2 for holding at 8:02 in the 1st
ND - Jordan Gross, 2 for cross-checking at 17:04 in the 1st
Minn - Tyler Sheehy, 2 for interference at 00:34 in the 2nd
ND - Jordan Gross, 2 for hooking at 7:43 in the 2nd
Minn - Brannon McManus, 2 for tripping at 17:11 in the 3rd
- Casey Mittlestadt
- Cale Morris
- Mat Robson
The Irish will stay in Minneapolis and look to split the series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday night.