DULUTH, Minn. — One bounce and the momentum changed Saturday night in a battle between ranked teams at Amsoil Arena.
No. 8 Minnesota-Duluth had a two-goal lead early in the second period against No. 1 Notre Dame when a shot by the Fighting Irish went off the skate of referee Brian Thul, who was standing along the end boards.
The puck caromed right back to winger Nick Larson alone at the crease, and he scored past UMD goalie Aaron Crandall at 6:45 of the period. That started a string of five straight Notre Dame goals on the way to a 5-3 victory and a series split in front of a crowd of 6,303 fans.
UMD (1-1) had won 4-3 Friday, yet lost its composure in the rematch.
“That goal took the wind out of our sails; we fell apart,” said UMD captain Jack Connolly. “But we were still in the lead and we have to learn to not have something like that affect us. It was the complete opposite of Friday night.”
The Bulldogs took care of business a night earlier in raising an NCAA championship banner and playing confidently with a lead, especially in the second half of the game. Notre Dame (1-1), a preseason pick to win the Central Collegiate Hockey Association title, dominated the second half Saturday. Linemates T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee of Edina, Minn., each had a goal and an assist.
UMD winger Mike Seidel had two goals, and Travis Oleksuk one. The Bulldogs led in shots on goal 24-23 in having a five-game win streak broken.
The talk of the night however, was Thul’s skate and Larson’s goal, which got the Fighting Irish within 2-1. Two more goals 89 seconds apart late in the second period made it 3-2 Notre Dame.
“Maybe that’s what we needed to bring us to life,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said of the bouncing puck. “We caught a break and it changed the momentum.”
Each team made a goalie change from Friday, with Steven Summerhays starting for Notre Dame. The Bulldogs also had to replace wingers Cody Danberg and Joe Basaraba, who were injured the night before, while the Fighting Irish lost winger Jeff Costello to a second-period injury.
After scoring Friday’s winning goal, senior center Oleksuk made it 1-0 when he skated in from neutral ice to the slot and, one-on-one with a defender, smacked a shot that just trickled through Summerhays 7:17 into the game. Seidel gained a wrap-around goal just 29 seconds into the second, and it was 2-0.
Larson, a junior from Apple Valley, Minn., connected on the game-changer at 6:45 of the second. Center Tynan finished a two-on-one short-handed break with 3:29 left in the period, and Lee scored with 2:00 to go.
“We had fewer turnovers tonight and played grittier,” said Tynan, who had 23 goals as a freshman. “We still didn’t play our best, but we know our team can be great if we play like we can.”
By the middle of the third period, Notre Dame was up 5-2, scoring on its first two shots of the period on goals by defensemen Kevin Lind and Sean Lorenz.
UMD gave its fans a brief moment of hope, scoring 12 seconds into a five-minute power play from Seidel with 5:08 to play, but there would be no comeback.
“We let that (first) goal get to us, and there’s no excuse for that,” said Seidel, who has three goals in two games. “We were playing well and getting the job done (at 2-0), and that changed everything. We passed up on checks, we weren’t taking the body, and there were turnovers at the blue line.”
An entertaining series between the 2011 Frozen Four semifinal opponents gave both coaches a good look at what they have for 2011-12.
“Playing teams like Notre Dame gets you ready for the rest of the season,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “In the second half of the game, we were flat and Notre Dame was very good. Even when we had a lead, (Notre Dame) was winning most of the battles. We have to learn to fight through tough times.”
The Bulldogs open Western Collegiate Hockey Association play this Friday and Saturday at home against No. 19 Minnesota, which began the season at home by outscoring Sacred Heart 15-0 in 6-0 and 9-0 victories.