Gophers Shutout Notre Dame 3-0 Completing The Sweep

November 5th, 2022: Justen Close stops all 21 shots he faced in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Notre Dame as the Gophers complete the sweep. 

–> Follow @Dylanloucks4 on Twitter

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN – Trap-style hockey limits chances and goals but when you are constantly trying to shut down offense you sometimes forget to produce chances the other way. That’s exactly what we have seen out of Notre Dame this weekend. 

Twice now the Fighting Irish have entered the third period down two goals and down more than 14 shots. Their trap limits chances early but when the game progresses legs get tired. 

“Exactly what we knew, it was going to be a battle,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “We got the first one and a power-play goal. Then it turned into an arm wrestling match, we won some battles, and Close was great when we needed him.”

Senior forward Jaxon Nelson capitalized on tired Fighting Irish legs with his second goal of the year in the second period. Mason Nevers continuing his hot streak, got the puck to Bryce Brodzinski on the circle. The veteran forward made a nice feed to Nelson in the slot. Left all alone, Nelson ripped home the game’s first goal.

Brodzinski collected his second assist on the year and his fourth point in ten games for the Gophers. Nevers notched his third assist and seventh point in ten games. Nelson now has points in his last five games of the season with one goal and four assists.

Nelson picked up his eighth point of the season on the goal. The famous forehand-to-backhand move is a deke Nelson has been doing since his time in Luverne, Minnesota. The senior assistant captain is now on pace for over 25 points this season and is drawing the eyes of many NHL teams and scouts. His 200-foot game and leadership have not only been on display this season but have carried the Gophers to a 7-3-0 start.

The undrafted college free agent also recorded seven shots on net, while blocking one shot, and winning eight faceoffs.

Nevers is on pace for over 20 points this season and has collected a point in his last three games. He has one goal and two assists in that span.

“Jaxon Nelson is stepping up in a big way for us,” Motzko said. “There were three to four names we wrote on the board last year that are still on the board that were going to take big steps this year. Nelson was one of them and Nevers was the other. Those two of the four have really stepped up and played monster hockey for us.”

Before the next goal, Gophers’ captain Brock Faber took a high hit by Jesse Lansdell. The senior forward was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Which sent the Gophers to the power play for the second time of the game. 

The Minnesota Wild prospect went down the tunnel for evaluation and later returned to the bench for the rest of the game. Faber was double-looked at after the game as well and has been cleared of no head injury.

Just a couple of minutes later Ryan Johnson sent one over to Jimmy Snuggerud, who leads all Gophers in shots and goals, the freshman ripped one through traffic in front. Through a bunch of bodies, Matthew Knies picked up the loose puck and banged it home for his seventh of the year.

Snuggerud leads the team with eight goals on the year and with Knies’ goal, Snuggerud’s lead was cut to one. Yesterday, Knies told the media he will certainly chase down Snuggerud and make it hard on him to finish the year with more goals, and that he did tonight.

“I like watching them play and I don’t really care who scores,” goaltender Justen Close said on Snuggerud and Knies battling for the team lead in goals. “They’re fantastic, Jimmy is off to a good start and so are a lot of young guys. It’s been great.”

Entering the third period up two goals the message was the same as it was for the five periods before. Play the same game and shut them down. Every time Notre Dame and Minnesota play each other it always ends up close in scoring. So sticking to the same game plan is key and that is something Nelson and the rest of the leadership group harped on between periods.

Later in the third down two goals, the Fighting Irish pulled Ryan Bischel, who stopped 28 out of the 30 shots he faced, for the extra attacker. In their own zone, Ryan Johnson chipped the puck up the wall where Logan Cooley was, Cooley shot out of a cannon and streaked up the right side past Drew Bavaro.

Cooley notched his third goal of the year and first since his two-goal performance on opening night against Lindenwood. Johnson collected his second assist of the game and seventh of the year. He ranks second on the team amongst defenders in points behind Jackson LaCombe, who ended his impressive nine-game point streak that saw him record three goals and 11 points in that span.

Justen Close notched his fifth career shutout stopping all 21 shots that he faced. He stopped 45 out of 46 over the weekend and helped the Gophers complete the sweep over the No. 12 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

They will host the red-hot Penn State Nittany Lions next week starting on Thursday the tenth, followed by Friday the 11th.

“We are going to play one heck of a team,” Motzko said on Penn State. “Arguably, they might be the best team in the country right now.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *