Notre Dame handed No. 1 Minnesota(5-1-1) its first loss of the season Friday night, holding the potent Gophers offense to one score in the 4-1 victory.
Irish senior Steven Summerhays made 31 saves in a 4-1 win over top-ranked Minnesota Friday night.
The third-ranked Irish(7-2-0) add another crowned scalp to their belt with the program’s 13th win when playing the nation’s top-ranked team. Irish senior Steven Summerhays made 31 saves to lead a defensive effort that held a Minnesota team that averages 4.83 goals per game — the most in college hockey — in check in front of a loud, sell-out crowd at Compton Family Ice Arena.
“Everyone is excited when you see the building like that and the No. 1 team comes in,” Summerhays said. “We were all looking forward to it and I think that shows the maturity that we have as a senior class to weather the storm in the first.”
Minnesota’s speed, and the nerves that accompany a rare night as the underdog, kept the Irish on their heels for the first 10 minutes of the series. Summerhays turned away a handful of early scoring chances before the rest of the team caught up to the pace of the game.
Special teams staked Notre Dame to a one-goal lead at the end of the second period and proved to be the difference in the comfortable win. Senior Bryan Rust and sophomore Sam Herr both scored on the power play from close range, and the penalty kill unit stopped all four of the Gophers opportunities.
Rust scored the game’s first goal two minutes into the second with some nifty stick work in the offensive zone. He intercepted a clearing attempts, deked his way past one defender then reached across Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox on the doorstep to slide the puck into the net.
Herr’s goal came in the closing minutes of the period. He received a pass from freshman center Vinnie Hinostroza along the goal line and found a lane to the net where he stuffed it past Wilcox for his third goal in the last two games. Herr, who has scored six total times this season, also scored twice in a 3-2 win over Vermont last Saturday night.
“My confidence is a lot better from what’s been happening," he said. "I’m just trying to go in every game and keep it simple. Don’t do anything I shouldn’t be doing."
Sophomore Garrett Peterson added a breakaway goal, tucking a backhanded shot between Wilcox’s leg pads to give Notre Dame a little extra breathing room three minutes into the third period.
For all its offensive firepower Minnesota has struggled with an extra skater this season. The Gophers have converted only four of their 32 power play attempts in its first seven games. The power play unit rarely gained control of the offensive zone and had only three total shots on Friday.
With three minutes remaining in the game and the Irish leading 3-1 a tripping penalty on Herr gave the Gophers a final chance to make a run. The Gopher pulled their goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage, but still couldn’t muster a single shot. Seconds after the penalty expired captain Jeff Costello scored an empty-net goal to seal the win.
Notre Dame entered the weekend with the fifth-best penalty kill in the nation, stopping 93 percent of its opponents’ power plays. The Irish did the job again, despite two of their better penalty killers — defenseman Eric Johnson and forward Thomas DiPauli — out with injuries and senior Mike Voran hampered by a bad leg.
“They did what they had to do,” head coach Jeff Jackson said.
Voran left the game temporarily in the first period and played sparingly afterward. He was slow to react on defense on Minnesota’s lone goal of the night — a one-timer for junior defenseman Ben Marshall midway through the second period.
The two teams return to the ice tomorrow night to finish the non-conference clash at 7:05 p.m. With No. 2 Michigan idle this weekend, Notre Dame has a chance to leap frog to the top of the national polls if it can finish a sweep of the Gophers.
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