A week after losing to Northeastern in the championship game of the Mariucci Classic, the Gophers hockey team had another chance to add a quality nonconference win to their résumé against Notre Dame, but fell 4-3 in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Game at Mariucci Arena.
Minnesota had a great opportunity early in the first period when Nick Larson was given a five-minute major for checking Kyle Rau from behind. Larson was also given a game misconduct.
Rau and Nick Bjugstad returned to the team for this game after missing the last two because of the World Juniors Tournament.
The Gophers failed to score on the five-minute power play and also failed to generate many genuine scoring chances.
“We didn’t come out like we wanted to,” Bjugstad said. “It was all around not a very good effort from the team and myself.”
With more than two minutes remaining in the opening period, the Irish cashed in on their own power play opportunity when T.J. Tynan picked off a failed clearing attempt and beat Kent Patterson glove-side.
The Gophers offense looked stagnant in the first and only mustered five shots, compared to Notre Dame’s 14, despite spending one quarter of the period on the power play.
“We didn’t come out the way we needed to come out,” head coach Don Lucia said. “We didn’t have any pace to our game.”
Minnesota’s offense continued to sputter until getting a power play opportunity on a slashing call. The Gophers peppered Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays until Taylor Matson stuffed home a rebound with six seconds remaining in the power play.
The Irish retook the lead on another power play when Riley Sheahan took a cross-ice pass that snuck past two Gophers defenders and beat Patterson.
"We couldn’t get sustained pressure and we had a few guys that struggled a little bit tonight,” Lucia said.
Sheahan padded Notre Dame’s lead minutes later when he beat Patterson glove side, knocking the goalie's water bottle off the top of the net, for a shorthanded breakaway goal.
Minnesota gave up multiple odd-man chances while on the power play during the game.
Norte Dame added another goal with six minutes left in the third period when Jeff Costello scored off of a faceoff.
Special teams played a big part in the game as the teams combined to score four power play goals and one shorthanded goal.
Late in the third period, the Gophers made a ferocious comeback when Bjugstad and Zach Budish scored within seconds of each other to make the score 4-3 with two minutes left in the third.
But the comeback fell short.
“When they were up 4-1 we just tried to keep the pedal down and we got a couple late ones and kind of made it interesting,” Matson said. “We’re kind of underachieving right now and we’re looking for answers.”