Notre Dame, IND. – Focus was coach Bob Motzko's message to his Gophers men's hockey team in practices this past week. And his players heeded his words all weekend.
In a near carbon copy of Friday's performance, the No. 5-ranked Gophers beat Notre Dame 3-0 on Saturday to sweep the series.
The score was the same as in the opener and Minnesota goalie Jack LaFontaine was unbeatable both games. After stopping 24 shots the first game, he turned aside or swallowed up 28 more in the second for his fifth shutout of the season.
"We've seen Jack on top of his game for the better part of almost a year and a half now," Motzko said. "He just looks so calm, too … nothing was rattled. That's when you know a goalie is dialed in – nothing looks hard, everything looked easy for him."
Minnesota (17-5, 13-5 Big Ten) blanked its opponent in back-to-back games for the first time since Kent Patterson shut out Sacred Heart twice in Minneapolis on Oct. 7-8, 2011. This is just the third time in the program's 100-year history that the Gophers have had two straight shutouts on the road and the first time one goalie, LaFontaine, has been the lone goalie of record.
After a slow start in the opening period when they were outshot 15-7, the Gophers pretty much reversed those numbers in the middle period and took a 2-0 lead.
Brannon McManus scored at 4 minutes, 4 seconds with Sampo Ranta and Scott Reedy getting the assists. Just over two minutes later, at 6:16, Nathan Burke got an unassisted goal after stealing a pass in the Notre Dame end. Shots that period were 14-6 in Minnesota's favor.
Sampo Ranta had the final Gophers' goal — his 14th of the season — at 15:11 of the third period.
Ryan Bischel had 25 saves for Notre Dame (10-11-1, 8-9-1), which had swept the Gophers at their rink 3-2 and 2-1 in mid-January.