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Minnesota Hockey: Gophers host Notre Dame in Big Ten Series

Minnesota will look to build on a conference opening split

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The #3 Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey team gets back on home ice in their first conference home games of the season this weekend when they host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Gophers will look to try and get back to their sweeping ways after a conference opening split at Ohio State last weekend.

The Gophers will look to bounce back after a rough start to last weekend’s series in Columbus. Minnesota did not look sharp in Friday night’s game which would end up in a 6-4 loss that saw Justen Close get pulled in the third period. Bob Motzko said earlier this week that he was worried going into the series because the team had a bad week of practice., and they came out on Friday just as they had practiced. The Gophers would bounce back on Saturday getting a 4-2 win to split the series. Jimmy Snuggerud picked up his team leading 6th goal of the season and Jackson LaCombe stayed hot with a goal and an assist. Close bounced back making 20 saves to get the win. Minnesota dropped from #1 to #3 in the national rankings this week.

Notre Dame comes into the weekend also after a rough first week of the conference season. The Irish would take four points on the weekend earning a win and a tie with a shootout loss to Michigan State in South Bend. They jumped out early and cruised to a 5-0 win on Friday, but could not get the puck past Spartan goalie, and former Notre Dame goalie Dylan St. Cyr. Ryan Bischel did just as good a job for the Irish allowing just one goal on the weekend against the Spartans in moving to 4-2-1 with a 2.12 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. The Irish are ranked #12 in the nation headed into this weekend.

The Irish are led in scoring by a few very familiar names in both the college hockey and hockey world at large. Ryder Rolston leads the team in both goals with 4 and points with nine, while Chayse Primeau is right behind with eight points. Eden Prairie native Nick Leiverman is back for his 5th season with the Irish and in just four games has three goals on the season. Also on the Irish roster this season is former Minnesota defenseman Ben Brinkman who transferred in for his fifth year of eligibility.

The Gophers are still being spurred by their trio of star defensemen and young forwards. LaCombe now leads the team in points with 10 while Snuggerud’s six goals are one more than Mathew Knies’ five. Bryce Brodzinski will be one to look for on the score sheet as well this weekend as he scored in three of the four games against the Irish a season ago.

Minnesota has been a much better offensive team this year than the Irish averaging over one goal more per game, but have been better defensively allowing just 2.5 goals per game to Minnesota’s 2.88. Neither power play has clicked exceptionally well with the Gophers scoring 21% of the time and Notre Dame just under 18% of the time. That’s good news for Minnesota who has struggled on the penalty kill and is currently ranked 55th in the nation at a 72% success rate. Notre dame is killing penalties at a 79% success rate. Notre Dame is averaging one extra penalty per game than the Gophers, meaning the chances should be there for the Gopher power play to attack.

Saturday night before the game the Gophers will unveil their 2021-22 Big Ten Regular Season Champions banner and honor the Frozen Four team. With luck the Gophers can get back on track, complete the sweep and let the sounds of the Battle Hymn ring out across 3M Arena Saturday night.

HOW TO WATCH:

#12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ #3 Minnesota Gophers

Where: 3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis, MN

When: 7PM Friday/Saturday

TV: Bally Sports North Extra

Stream: BallySports.com

Radio: 1130 AM/103.5 FM/ I Heart Radio App