Gophers complete weekend sweep with 3-0 win at Notre Dame

Justen Close shut down the home side as the Golden Gophers men’s hockey team picked up a 3-0 victory at Notre Dame Saturday evening inside Compton Family Ice Arena.

Three goals during a stretch of 6:19 helped power Minnesota (17-6-1 overall, 11-2-1 B1G) over the Fighting Irish (10-11-3 overall, 5-7-2 B1G). Close dominated the entire night on the way to his fourth shutout of the season as the senior made 38 saves, the second-most of his career, while the offense scored at even strength, on the power play and shorthanded.

The Gophers were on the jump to start the second game of the weekend series, but a five-minute major penalty 2:27 into the contest forced the visitors to adjust and defend. Brock Faber pushed into the attack creating an offensive chance on the penalty kill before Minnesota erased the entire power play without conceding.

Momentum shifted to the Maroon and Gold when the Irish were whistled for a dangerous check-from-behind and given a five-minute penalty and game misconduct at the 8:41 mark. Neither side was able to capitalize on the extended opportunities with the man advantage as the contest remained scoreless.

Late in the first period, Minnesota broke the tie as Ryan Johnson’s shot from the point deflected off an ND defender for a 1-0 lead with 2:15 remaining in the frame for the eventual game winner, the first of his four-year career. The home side was called for two penalties in the final 35 seconds and the Gophers went to a 5-on-3 power play into the beginning of the second period. It took just 1:13 for Logan Cooley to glide into the slot and wire a shot into the top corner, stretching the margin to 2-0.

Following a Minnesota penalty, Matthew Knies took it upon himself to carry play and score a highlight-reel, shorthanded tally. The sophomore intercepted a pass in the defensive zone, burst around two ND blueliners and slid the puck between the goalie’s pads, making it 3-0 Gophers four minutes into the second stanza.

When called upon to preserve the lead, Close was at the top of his game and delivered three breakaway saves while on the power play. The senior made seven saves in a span of 1:16 in the middle of the period, keeping the Irish off the scoreboard and was credited with 19 saves in the second period alone.

ND continued to control the puck in the offensive zone during the third period, but the Gophers were up to the task and held off the home side in front of a sellout crowd.