Gophers force overtime, earn tie at Notre Dame

No. 2 Minnesota men’s hockey scored in the final minute at Notre Dame to force overtime tied 2-2 before falling in a shootout Friday night from Compton Family Ice Arena. The game is recorded as a tie in the official standings.

Jackson LaCombe pulled the Golden Gophers (16-6-1 overall, 10-2-1 B1G) even with the goalie pulled and just 24 seconds on the regulation clock. The Fighting Irish (10-10-3 overall, 5-6-2 B1G) scored once in the shootout and stopped all three visitors shots to earn two points in the first game of a Big Ten Conference series.

Both sides were uncharacteristically careless with the puck in the early stages of the matchup, but the Maroon and Gold got pucks to the net, holding the early edge in shots, 10-4. That total did not count a rip off the right goalpost for Logan Cooley as the freshman forced a turnover along the defensive blueline at the midpoint of the frame. ND got a power-play chance with seven minutes remaining in the period and the Gophers were four seconds away from erasing the man advantage before the Irish struck for the opening tally.

The deficit was short lived for Minnesota as Mason Nevers found a bouncing puck in front of the net and slid it past the goaltender off a Luke Mittelstadt shot from the point with 3:42 to play in the first. The visitors were forced into killing off a penalty that carried over into the second stanza as the game remained in a 1-1 tie. Momentum stayed with ND as it kept the Gophers on their heels in front of a sellout crowd and the home side regained the lead on a low-angle shot at the 9:34 mark.

The first penalty called against the Irish came as time expired in the second period giving the Gophers a power play on the fresh ice surface beginning the final frame, but were unable to convert the opportunity. Minnesota continued to generate chances in the offensive end only to see its shots miss the target. In the final minute, the visitors turned up the pressure and with an empty net, got the tying goal as LaCombe blasted a one timer from Mike Koster at the top of the right circle.

Overtime belonged to the Gophers as they controlled the action and thought they had the game winner in the closing seconds as Jimmy Snuggerud’s rebound rang off the crossbar. The only goal during the shootout made the difference for the Irish as they picked up the extra point in the B1G standings.

Minnesota held a 38-22 edge in shots on goal and goaltender Justen Close stopped 20-of-22 shots faced on the road.