SOUTH BEND, IND. – Forwards Tommy Novak and Blake McLaughlin each scored their first goal of the season to lead the visiting Gophers to a 5-1 victory Friday over No. 9 Notre Dame.
The Irish outshot the Gophers almost exactly 2-1, but Mat Robson turned 37 shots aside until his team had built a 4-0 lead. He finished with 42 saves. Cale Morris had 17 saves for the Irish.
Novak put the Gophers ahead 1-0 just over 12 minutes into the game. The score remained unchanged until McLaughlin’s goal at 5:35 of the third.
“It was important against Notre Dame to score first,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said, “and Tommy Novak getting his first one of the year was huge. And he’s had so many chances as of recently. Good for that to happen.”
Minnesota (8-8-4, 5-3-3 Big Ten) padded that two-goal lead on goals later in the third by Brannon McManus and Sammy Walker.
Defenseman Nick Leivermann finally scored for the Irish (12-7-1, 5-5) with 3:10 left. That goal was his first as well. Rem Pitlick got the Gophers’ final goal, a shorthanded empty-netter with 11 seconds to play.
“Our guys are really finding that battle level, making plays from down low, driving pucks down in there,” Motzko said. “And then we got some transition goals tonight when the game loosened up with them being down. Against Notre Dame, it is really a fight to get to 1 and then you kind of play some hockey.”
The Irish came into this series allowing only 2.21 goals per game — 13th best in the nation.
“We get criticized sometimes for our record,” Motzko said, “but we are a pretty good hockey team. We are coming around.”
Gophers men 5, notre dame 1
Saturday: 6 p.m. at Notre Dame (no TV)