DULUTH – Notre Dame came into the weekend as #2 in the nation, and while they took the first game of the series 3-2 Friday night, the Bulldogs showed everyone they can play with the best of them in Saturday’s match up.
Minnesota Duluth started strong off the hop, outshooting the Irish 14-3 in the first period, a period that included three goals in less than four minutes for UMD. Kyle Osterberg added a fourth goal in the second period to give his team a decisive 4-0 lead through much of the third period. Notre Dame’s Austin Wuthrich scored a power play goal, ending UMD goaltender Aaron Crandall’s chance at a shut out.
What I Saw
UMD faced a freshman netminder in Notre Dame’s Chad Katunar, who saw his first NCAA action the previous night after senior starter Steven Summerhays’s ejection from the game. Peppering the rookie goalie was key to UMD’s victory, with multiple goals coming off of rebounds and redirections.
Notre Dame needed be more disciplined tonight, not only as far as penalties go, but also with regards to their mental game. UMD’s quick three goal lead shut Notre Dame down until late in the third period, allowing the Bulldogs to keep momentum through the majority of the match up.
Notre Dame’s slow start and the Minnesota Duluth’s much improved game were key in the result of this second match up between the teams. While the ND added a late tally on the power play, that last ditch effort was not enough to make a difference.
What I Thought
The key to the UMD’s win was playing more like the team they were in Friday’s third period than the one who started that bout. The momentum from that first game carried over into Saturday as evidenced by the quick start and dominance throughout the game.
Starting rookie Katunar in net was a poor decision on the part of Notre Dame. While two of the goals were second (or fifth) shot rebounds, the play of Summerhays as he took over in the third period was much more composed than that of his freshman counterpart. While the play of Notre Dame in general was weak, Katunar allowing three goals so quickly also points to a lack of resiliency and mental toughness.
The Bulldogs have now proved that they can play with the best of the best. With Aaron Crandall starting his third game of the season and back up Matt McNeely having played strong in his starts as well, the UMD goalie tandem is a major strength. The penalty kill has been a key for UMD’s recent successes and while the power play needs work, there is plenty for the Bulldogs to build off and have proven they are one of the elite teams in the NCAA.
What They Said
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said,
“It was a good challenging weekend for us, and that’s what we expected. We knew it was going to be a tough series.”
“Tonight we didn’t have a good start, and that was the difference in the game.”
Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said,
“We talk about playing the game the right way. Tonight and this weekend against a really good team we saw more of that. We all want to win, no one wants to lose. But the most important thing is playing the game the right way to give yourself a chance. We did that tonight.”
What Else You Should Know
UMD has only allowed 3 goals on 40 penalty kills (92.5%) so far this season. Even without the services of PK specialist Justin Crandall, who sat out with an injury, UMD was still able to kill off 6 of 7 Fighting Irish attempts.
Notre Dame’s undefeated start came to end, but the five wins will stand as the best start under coach Jeff Jackson.
Minnesota Duluth’s scoring outburst included first goals on the season for Caleb Herbert and Dominic Toninato.
Notre Dame’s seven powerplay attempts tonight push their season total to 53 in just six games.
– By Nicole Brodzik