SOUTH BEND, IND. – The response was key for Don Lucia. How would his young Gophers react to their first loss of the season?
The answer, as one might expect from the nation’s highest-scoring hockey team, was with a lot of goals.
Freshmen scored all five Gophers goals to help the nation’s top-ranked team salvage its first trip to South Bend in 33 years. Hudson Fasching scored twice and Jake Bischoff had the game-winner in the third period as the Gophers ended No. 4 Notre Dame’s 11-game home winning streak with a 5-4 victory at Compton Family Ice Arena.
“For us to get a split, we feel pretty good about that,” Lucia said. “We had a lot of young guys that came in and responded in a real positive manner with their performance to help our team grow.”
After not playing Friday, rookie defenseman Bischoff came up big by scoring his second goal in as many games.
“He’s played well,” Lucia said. “He’s smart and he helps us. We have seven defensemen who can play, and those guys are going to have to compete week in and week out for playing time.”
For the second night in a row, the Gophers (6-1-1) came out charging hard. Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays stopped 31 of 32 shots Friday, but he didn’t have the same success Saturday.
The Gophers got the puck deep in the Irish zone and had Summerhays moving from pipe to pipe, and he wasn’t fast enough to stop Taylor Cammarata or Fasching. Both scored wraparound goals from behind the net to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead halfway through the first period.
“It was a point to try and play more corner to corner,” Lucia said. “And we got to the net a bunch more than we did [Friday] night.
“It’s not easy for a goalie when the puck’s behind him, and the guys made some good plays.”
Cammarata’s goal came on the power play, only the Gophers’ fifth in eight games this season. It was an important marker after Friday’s poor special teams showing, when the Gophers went 0-for-4 on the power play and also let in two by Notre Dame.
“That was not our best performance [Friday] night, and we wanted to step up our game,” Fasching said. “I think we wore them down a little bit and just came with all four lines. We had a lot better effort.”
Notre Dame (7-3) got one back on a one-timer from the top of the right circle by Shayne Taker, but the Gophers responded quickly, looking for another wraparound. Summerhays stuffed that try, but Nate Condon fed Justin Kloos across the slot, and Summerhays couldn’t recover in time.
Mario Lucia cut Notre Dame’s deficit back to 3-2 against his father’s team by banging a Vinnie Hinostroza rebound into a wide open net with 16.6 seconds left in the first period.
Fasching scored his second of the game at 7:09 of the second period to make it 4-2, but Notre Dame managed to tie it just before the period ended. Mario Lucia got his second goal of the game in the same fashion as the first, pouncing on a choice rebound at 13:38 of the second.
“All I had to do was put them in,” the Wayzata High School product said. “Those easy goals are gifts, but I’ll take them.”
The penalties began to pile up for the Gophers, including a five-minute major on Tom Serratore for kneeing Hinostroza. That sent the Irish freshman limping to the locker room, but Notre Dame took advantage. Stephen Johns scored on a 5-on-3 power play with 1.5 seconds left in the second period to make it 4-4.
But Bischoff answered for the Gophers with a wrist shot from the left circle that got through Summerhays with a little more than 11 minutes to play.
“I expected them to be better, and I don’t think we were as good,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “That combination, obviously, was not a good one.”