South Bend, Ind. – Sophomore forward Blake McLaughlin’s power-play goal in the seventh minute of the third period was the winner as the Gophers beat Notre Dame 2-1 on Saturday at Compton Family Ice Arena in the second game of their Big Ten men’s hockey series.
“I like how we are playing hockey,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “… Tonight we were really solid. We want to continue to build on that.”
The victory left the Gophers tied for first place in the conference with Penn State, which beat Wisconsin 3-2 to split that series.
McLaughlin’s eighth goal of the season, at 6:16, broke a 1-all tie and continued to build his reputation as a Notre Dame nemesis. Last season when Minnesota swept the Irish on the road, McLaughlin had both deciding goals.
The Gophers (14-11-5, 9-6-5-4 Big Ten) had a 15-1 advantage in shots in a scoreless first period. That quiet period was a nice break for Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine, who had a season-high 39 saves on Friday in a 3-3 tie. The Gophers ultimately won the shootout for an extra point in the conference standings.
“[Friday] night wasn’t all pretty at times, but we found a way to sneak a point out of there at the end,” Motzko said.
In the rematch, the Irish (12-12-6, 7-8-5-3) took a 1-0 lead in the second period when Nick Leiverman, a sophomore defenseman from Eden Prairie, scored at 8:01.
Then the Gophers scored twice in the first seven minutes of the third. Ben Meyers got an even-strength goal at 3:34. McLaughlin then got the winner. Brannon McManus — who had the lone shootout goal the night before — had assists on both of Minnesota’s goals.
LaFontaine finished with 24 saves, the same number Cale Morris had for Notre Dame.
The Gophers finished 1-1-2 against the Irish in the regular season.
“It took us until the fourth game to finally beat them once in regulation,” Motzko said.