Goals by Solag Bakich and Max Ellis and 25 saves from Dylan St. Cyr lifted Notre Dame to a 2-1 win over Minnesota on Saturday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci as the Fighting Irish completed the weekend sweep of the top-ranked Gophers.
“We spent a lot of time on special teams in practice this last week and it showed this weekend,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. “I think both nights goaltending make a big difference in the penalty kill, too. The big thing for us is finding a way to play like this at home and finding the same energy and discipline in the way we play.”
Bakich’s goal came early in the first as Notre Dame led the whole night, holding Minnesota off the board until an extra attacker goal scored at 17:36 of the third.
While St. Cyr stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced, LaFontaine made 22 saves for the Gophers.
The Irish penalty kill unit was instrumental in the win, holding Minnesota’s power play to an 0-for-5 mark on the night. Notre Dame was 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
Notre Dame improved to 4-0-0 on the road, including sweeps of #4/3 Michigan and #1/1 Minnesota.
How It Happened
The Irish took a 1-0 lead just 1:54 into the game when Michael Graham found Solag Bakich trailing through the slot and the sophomore winger let a wrist shot fly high past LaFontaine for his second goal of the season. Trevor Janicke’s forecheck along the boards created the turnover for Graham to pick up.
Nick Leivermann hammered a shot off the post while the Irish were on the power play with nine minutes remaining in the first as the Irish looked to extend the lead.
Ryder Rolston and Colin Theisen also had a chance on a 2-on-1, but LaFontaine turned aside the Rolston shot to keep it a 1-0 game.
St. Cyr made a big save when he flashed his right pads to deny Sammy Walker on the doorstep while the Gophers were skating with the man advantage late in the first period and the teams headed to the locker room with the Irish in front 1-0.
In the second St. Cyr was forced to make a couple big stops while the teams were skating 4-on-4. Setup by Spencer Stastney, Landon Slaggert was denied from just outside the crease on that same 4-on-4.
Max Ellis doubled the lead at 10:37 of the second when he scored his first career power-play goal with a quick snapshot from the point that beat LaFontaine through a Jake Pivonka screen in front. Spencer Stastney and Trevor Janicke earned the assists on the play.
The Irish had to spend much of the final 10 minutes of the second on the penalty kill, but were able to kill off back-to-back calls against Landon Slaggert and the first 1:15 of another Gopher power play to stay in front, 2-0, after 40 minutes of play.
Notre Dame opened the third by killing off the final 45 seconds of Gopher power-play time.
Alex Steeves had the next best chance, skating in on a partial breakaway but LaFontaine made the stop.
With the Gophers pushing, Colin Theisen had a big shot block as the clock ticked under four minutes to play in the third. Then with 2:30 left in the third, Minnesota pulled LaFontaine and then six seconds later Jaxson Nelson got the Gophers on the board to make it a one-goal game.
LaFontaine was back off with 1:26 left, but St. Cyr made one more stop to secure the win.
- Senior Matt Hellickson skated in his 131st-consecutive game, dating back to the first game of his freshman season.
- Max Ellis scored his first career power-play goal midway through the second.
- The goal also proved to be Ellis’ first game winner of the season and the second of his career.
- Notre Dame returns home to play host to #9/10 Michigan in a Thursday-Friday series (Jan. 21-22) at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
- Game one (6:30 p.m. ET) will be televised on NBC Sports regional networks (SNY, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Philadelphia+), while Friday’s game (6:30 p.m. ET) will be broadcast on NBCSN.
- Both games will be streamed via the NBC Sports platforms, including the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.