Robson Backstops ‘U’ to 5-1 Victory at Notre Dame
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Mat Robson made 42 saves and five Minnesota skaters found the back of the net as the Gopher Hockey program opened this weekend’s Big Ten series at No. 9 Notre Dame with a 5-1 victory at Compton Family Ice Arena.
Minnesota (8-8-4 overall, 5-3-3-0 Big Ten) found goals from Tommy Novak, Blake McLaughlin, Brannon McManus, Sammy Walker and Rem Pitlick in the victory, netting five goals on 22 shots in the series opener against Notre Dame (12-7-1, 5-5-0-0). Sampo Ranta picked up three assists in the win for his first career multi-point game.
The two conference rivals battled without a goal for more than half of regulation before scoring six combined goals in the second half with the Maroon & Gold opening the competition with four unanswered tallies.
Novak struck first for the Gophers at 12:04 of the second period when he snapped a 29-game goal drought with his first of the year, a one-timer in the slot from McManus and Ranta. The lone goal in the first 40 minutes of play was followed by five more goals in the final 20 minutes. Minnesota’s freshmen line of Sammy Walker, Nathan Burke and Blake McLaughlin put home the eventual game winner at 5:35 of the third period with McLaughlin netting his first career goal off a feed from Burke.
McManus and Ranta combined for a second time at 9:15 when the sophomore forward picked up his seventh of the year (matching his season total from last year’s rookie campaign) before Ranta and McLaughlin set up Walker’s fifth goal of the season at 15:57.
The Irish finally got on the board at 16:50 when Nick Leivermann scored his first of the year, but the Gophers answered back minutes later with a shorthanded, empty-net goal from Pitlick at 19:49 to lock up the win. The final tally was set up by Brent Gates Jr., and Ryan Zuhlsdorf.
Robson improved to 6-4-4 on the season after a 42-save performance. Cale Morris took the loss to fall to 9-7-1, making 17 saves. The Gophers went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and added the shorthanded goal while Minnesota did not have a power-play opportunity.
Minnesota and Notre Dame close out this weekend’s Big Ten series on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.
Notes: The GPS Line of Gates, Pitlick and Tyler Sheehy have now picked up points in all 11 games since coming together on Nov. 23 and have combined for 17 goals and 37 points since then…Gates saw his career-long, five-game goal streak end on Friday although the senior added an assist…Sheehy’s career-long point streak also ended at 10 games…Pitlick, who leads Minnesota with 10 goals and 21 points this season, has points in 10 of the last 11 games and 15 of Minnesota’s 20 games this year…Zuhlsdorf has assists in back-to-back games…Minnesota entered the game with only one active goal against Notre Dame.