Gophers Fall To Notre Dame In The Shootout Despite Late Comeback

January 13th, 2023: Gophers fall to the Fighting Irish in the shootout despite LaCombe’s game-tying goal with 24 seconds left.

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The Gophers fall in the shootout after the late comeback sparked by Jackson LaCombe’s game-tying goal with 24 seconds left. Trevor Janicke and Justin Janicke had the goals for the Irish, Mason Nevers had the other one for the Gophers. Ryan Bischel made 36 saves on 38 shots and Justen Close made 20 saves on 22 shots.

“We were decent tonight,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said. “We aren’t hitting our stride coming back from the break. We will and just have to get back out there again.”

Notre Dame has struggled a lot this year and if they want to make the national tournament they need to pick it up. Landon Slaggert had 12 goals and 26 points last season with the Fighting Irish, this year he has two goals and four points in 20 games. Jackson Pierson had 12 goals and 24 points in 34 games last season for New Hampshire and has only one goal in 22 games this season. 

They certainly need their producers to produce but also need their power play to contribute a bit more. Coming into the game the Fighting Irish have converted on 14.1 percent of their power plays, which ranks them 50th in the country. 

But around the 13-minute mark of the first period, Aaron Huglen went to the box for boarding. As the penalty was ending Justin Janicke, who played youth hockey with Brock Faber for Maple Grove, got the Irish on the board for the game’s first goal. Chayse Primeau and Slaggert got the assists on the play.

Exactly one minute later, Mason Nevers got the Gophers on the board. That was Nevers’ eighth goal of the year and 17th point in 23 games. Nevers’ little brother Jackson, just recently committed to the Gophers only a couple of days ago. Nevers now has three goals and eight points in his last ten games. 

Luke Mittelstadt’s shot from the point deflected off Ryan Bischel’s glove, who was just added to the Mike Ritcher watch list for best goalie in the NCAA, but with a lot of traffic in front Nevers got a piece on the loose puck and tied the game for the Gophers exactly one minute after Notre Dame scored.

The Gophers usually always have a good second period, but tonight’s second started not how they drew it up. The Irish recorded five of the first eight shots, that was before Trevor Janicke notched his seventh of the year. Janicke was pressured by Jimmy Snuggerud who got his stick caught in Janicke’s pads, the senior forward then spun off Snuggerud and roofed a snap-shot over the right shoulder of Justen Close and right under the bar. 

The remaining nine minutes of the second period were all Minnesota. They shut down the Irish and notched eight shots while only allowing one. At the final second Ben Brinkman, the former Gopher, tripped up Mason Nevers. 

Ten minutes earlier, Brinkman rocked Nevers with an open-ice hit that sent him flat on his butt. Funny enough, Brinkman was the captain of the Edina Hornets back in the 2017-2018 season. Which was the same year Nevers scored 21 goals in 25 games and was named captain of Edina the year after.

The Gophers only recorded one shot on the power play and just couldn’t get one past Bischel, something they couldn’t do much of the night as Bischel made 36 saves on 38 shots. 

Down 2-1 to the 10-10-0 Fighting Irish, the Gophers quickly got to their game and ended up outshooting Notre Dame in the third period 8-6 before they pulled Close for the extra attacker. 

With lots of puck movement, Mike Koster sent one over to Brodzinski who then fed LaCombe at the point. LaCombe’s big shot was denied by Bischel but picked up by the Gophers. Koster sent one back over to Brodzinski on the left side, and Brodzinski quickly fed LaCombe again for the one-timer. This time the senior defender got one through and tied it at 2-2 with 24 seconds remaining. 

After outshooting the Irish yet again, the Gophers couldn’t end it in overtime. This was after the Gophers had four shots and one shot off the post by Snuggerud. Close made one save in the overtime with .02 seconds on the clock. 

Pierson started the shootout for the Irish and was stopped by Close. Nevers got the first look for the Gophers and was stopped by Bischel. Ryder Rolston, son of former Minnesota Wild forward Brian, came streaking in and ripped one past the glove of Close. Brodzinski followed for the Gophers but was stopped by Bischel.

Trevor Janicke came in on Close to try and end it but the senior goaltender stood tall. Needing a goal to win, the Gophers went with Rhett Pitlick. The sophomore forward came in with speed but was stopped by Bischel. 

“I didn’t get those guys out on the three-on-three, I went with the better skaters,” Motzko said. “We do a shootout every week and Nevers, Brodzinski, and Pitlick are three of our top guys.”

The Gophers will try for the series split tomorrow night starting at 5:00 pm central time and will have to start a lot faster than what they did tonight.

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