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Irish edged by Gophers, 3-2, in decisive game three

(WNDU)
Published: Mar. 8, 2020 at 10:34 PM EDT
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Alex Steeves and Cam Morrison scored, but Notre Dame fell to Minnesota, 3-2, in game three of the Big Ten quarterfinals at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Cale Morris finished with 18 saves for the Irish while Jack LaFontaine stopped 23 shots in goal for the Gophers.

The Irish went 1-for-3 on the power play and Minnesota converted twice on three man-advantage opportunities, which included a five-minute major call against the irish that created a two minute 5-on-3 chance for the Gophers.

With the loss, Notre Dame’s season ends in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals at 15-15-7.

How It Happened

Notre Dame got the game’s first power play chance at 6:46 of the first. After a few early looks by Alex Steeves and Morrison from down low, Nick Leiveramnn rang one off the post as the man advantage expired to keep the game scoreless.

Nate Clurman had a great look from the slot with six minutes left in the frame but his shot flashed just wide and the game eventually remained scoreless after 20 minutes with Morris making six saves to LaFontaine’s five.

The Irish were all over the Gophers to start the second period and it paid off at 5:25 when Alex Steeves snapped a wrist shot low past LaFontaine’s blocker for his 11th goal of the season. Tory Dello quick-upped the puck to Steeves to send him on a two-on-one with Graham Slaggert to earn the lone assist on the play.

Morris made a point blank save on Scott Reedy at 8:31 and then followed up with another one on Ryan Johnson but the Irish were called for a penalty. On the ensuing power play, Minnesota’s Ben Meyers tied it at 1-1. Just 48 seconds later, Sampo Ranta gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead, finishing off an odd-man rush.

At 14:10 of the second, following a series of tough calls against Notre Dame that resulted in a minor and major penalty call, Minnesota had a two minute five-on-three chance to start the five minute power play. With seven seconds left in the 5-on-3, Meyers scored his second of the night for a 3-1 Minnesota lead.

Notre Dame was able to kill off the remainder of the Gophers’ power-play chance and the score remained 3-1 in favor of the Gophers after two periods of play.

Morrison scored his second power-play goal in as many nights when he deflected in a bouncing puck in the crease to make it a 3-2 game at 10:36 of the third period, with Alex Steeves and Spencer Stastney earning the assists.

Jesse Lansdell had Notre Dame’s next scoring chance from in tight but he was denied by LaFontaine. Then with 6:33 left in the third, Minnesota was called for too many men on the ice but the Irish couldn’t capitalize.

After the Irish pulled Morris for an extra attacker with 1:24 remaining, Alex Steeves had a chance stopped by the pad of LaFontaine.

The Irish kept pushing to tie it, but Cal Burke’s one-timer from the right circle was stopped by the blocker of LaFontaine in the final seconds to preserve the 3-2 win for Minnesota.

Notes

-Home teams are now 18-2 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals under the current format (past three seasons) with no road team advancing and Notre Dame’s win on Friday accounting for one of the two road wins.

-Cam Morrison scored his 10th career playoff goal (15th career playoff point).

-Notre Dame is now 7-2-0 in Big Ten tournament play.

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