An unusual off day between games did little to disrupt the Gophers’ rhythm.
They scored three first-period goals and held on for a 4-2 victory that completed a sweep of No. 15 Notre Dame on Sunday evening at Mariucci Arena.
Taylor Cammarata assisted on each of the three early goals, his third consecutive multipoint effort. The scoring was spread out once again, with goals from forwards Sam Warning and Hudson Fasching and defensemen Mike Reilly and Michael Brodzinski.
“We had really good energy to start the game,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “Maybe that off day in between is a benefit to us because we’re not laying around our hotel all day Saturday figuring out what to do.”
Warning scored in the game’s first shift at 29 seconds and the No. 1 Gophers’ power play continued its early success with a pair of goals in the first period.
It took only seven seconds and two passes for Reilly, Cammarata and Fasching to connect for the goal on the first power play. Reilly’s slapshot near the top of the slot deflected off a defender’s stick for the second power-play goal.
Defensemen scored four goals over the weekend for the Gophers (7-1-0).
“Coach [Mike] Guentzel was saying the ‘D’ had no goals going into this weekend besides [Brady] Skjei’s empty-netter. We’ve been working a lot on defensive shooting from the blue line and making sure we’re getting pucks to the net,” Reilly said.
Notre Dame (5-4-1) tried to limit the early damage by changing its goaltender after one period. Starter Cal Petersen had given up eight goals through four periods and was replaced by backup Chad Katunar.
Katunar made two saves in the opening 30 seconds of the second period and settled in, keeping the Irish in the game. Brodzinski added a long goal from just inside the blue line 13:46 into the period, but the Gophers didn’t score again.
Penalties became a problem for the Gophers in the second and third periods. They spent 12 minutes in the penalty box, gave up one power-play goal, and allowed the Irish to break out of their offensive rut.
Robbie Russo scored on the second of back-to-back power plays midway through the second period and Austin Wuthrich added a late goal to pull within two goals, 4-2, entering the third period.
“We started off like we were sleeping,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “The first shift of the game and they score. That wasn’t acceptable. So we addressed it after the first, and I thought we came back and competed a lot harder in the second and third.”
The Gophers lost Vinni Lettieri during Notre Dame’s run of second-period power plays. The sophomore forward went down to block a shot and took a puck off his helmet. He dropped to the ice and was attended to for several minutes before being helped on the ice. He didn’t return and will be under observation over the next several days.
Brodzinski also left the bench after blocking a shot with his wrist, but he returned to score a goal. The Gophers entered the series without injured veterans Travis Boyd and Skjei.
The Gophers’ depth and variety of offensive weapons limited the effect of those injuries for at least one weekend.