Close beat Irish 3-0 away

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Just close closed the home side as the Golden Gophers men’s ice hockey team earned a 3-0 win in Notre Dame on Saturday night at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

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

The Gophers were poised to start game two of the weekend series, but a five-minute major penalty 2:27 into the contest forced the visitors to adjust and defend. Rock Faber pushed into offense and created an offensive chance on the penalty spot before Minnesota erased the entire power play without conceding.

Momentum shifted to Maroon and Gold when the Irish were called from behind after a dangerous check and received a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct at the 8:41 mark. Neither side could capitalize on the expanded man advantage opportunities as the fight remained goalless.

Late in the first period, Minnesota broke the tie as Ryan Johnsons Shot deflected from the point by an ND defender for a 1-0 lead, leaving 2:15 within range 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 into a 5-on-3 power play early in the second period. It only took 1:13 for Logan Cooley to slide into the slot and wire a shot into the top corner and extend the lead to 2-0.

After a Minnesota penalty Matthew Knies took it upon himself to carry the game and score a highlight reel while outnumbered. The second intercepted a pass in the defending zone, busting around two ND blueliners and slotting the puck between the goalie’s pads, giving Gophers a 3-0 lead four minutes into the second verse.

When called upon to defend the lead, Close was at his best, making three breakaway saves on the power play. The senior made seven saves in a span of 1:16 midway through the third, keeping the Irish off the scoreboard and earning 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 sold-out crowd.

Remarkable

Cooley scored his 12th goal of the year to briefly line up with the linemates Jimmy Snuggerud and Knies to lead, before Knies scored his 13th goal less than three minutes later… It was the team’s second man-man goal of the year and both came off Knies’ stick… Johnson scored his second goal of the season and first since November 18, 2022 Michigan… After being called up for just one penalty on Friday, the Irish totaled 25 penalty minutes in the series finals… It was the second shutout on Saturday for the Gophers over the Irish with a similar 3-0 goal this year and third shutout at Notre Dame in last six street contests… The 5,022 spectator capacity was the 10th consecutive street sellout to see Minnesota.

Next: Home vs. Michigan (January 20)

The Gophers return to 3M Arena in Mariucci for their next two B1G series, beginning with a Jan. 20-21 matchup against Michigan. Limited tickets remain for the series against the defending conference tournament champion Wolverines. Catch the action live on Bally Sports North Friday night at 7pm and tune in to audio on Gopher Radio Network 103.5 FM/AM-1130 KTLK.

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