No. 1 Gophers Get Hot Early in 4-1 Win Over No. 2/3 Notre Dame
MINNEAPOLIS – Nate Condon scored on the first shot of the game and top-ranked Minnesota would add three more over the course of its final nonconference game to cruise past No. 2/3 Notre Dame 4-1 in a rare Tuesday night contest at Mariucci Arena.
The Gophers (14-3-3 overall, 6-3-3 WCHA) finished the regular season with an 8-0-0 mark in nonconference play with the win and snapped a six-game winning streak by the Irish (14-5-0, 10-1-0 CCHA). Minnesota also improved to 7-1-0 against ranked teams this season with its second-straight win over a top-five team (the Gophers topped then No. 1 Boston College 8-1 on Dec. 30 in the Mariucci Classic title game).
Condon, who was one of three Gophers to finish with a game-high two points on the night along with Zach Budish and Sam Warning, started it off for Minnesota at 1:21 of the first period for his third goal in as many games and sixth overall in 2012-13. Budish and Warning set up the goal with Budish dropping the puck back for a hard Condon wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle.
Warning added his sixth goal at 7:29 of the first, knocking in a loose puck through a scrum in front of the net with an assist from Travis Boyd before Notre Dame would get its only goal of the night late in the period at 14:31 from Jeff Costello with assists from Bryan Rust and Anders Lee.
The rest of the night would belong to the top-ranked Gophers, however.
Christian Isackson’s second period dangle at 5:23 earned the sophomore the No. 10 spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter after A.J. Michaelson set up the Gophers’ third goal of the night. Budish would add an empty netter at 19:45 after being set up by Kyle Rau and Condon for Budish’s sixth goal of the season. The Gophers are now 13-0-1 this season when Rau earns a point.
In goal, Adam Wilcox turned in another impressive performance to improve to a WCHA-best 13-2-3 in his rookie campaign. The freshman made 22 saves, none bigger than his pad save on a third period breakaway by the Irish’s Rust.
The Gophers outshot Notre Dame 26-23, went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and 0-for-4 on the power play.
Minnesota returns to action this weekend with a WCHA series against Alaska Anchorage. Friday’s series opener is slated for 8 p.m. while Saturday’s finale is scheduled for 7 p.m.