Three takeaways from Notre Dame’s 3-2 victory over Minnesota in the Northeast Regional

Notre Dame goaltender Cal Petersen holds the post to deny a Minnesota chance (photo: Richard T. Gagnon).

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Here are three takeaways from Notre Dame’s dramatic 3-2 comeback upset of Minnesota in the Northeast Regional semifinals on Saturday.

1. When the chips are down, you need your big guns to deliver

Trailing top regional seed Minnesota 2-0 more than halfway through the game, Notre Dame looked to Andrew Oglevie and Anders Bjork for a way back into the game. The two had led the Irish in scoring this season and with the chips down, they delivered.

Oglevie scored his 20th goal at 14:39 of the second, catching Minnesota in a line change, and Bjork followed less than a minute later with his own 20th to tie it.

Bjork didn’t stop there. He got the game-winner at 8:42, and made a key defensive play in the closing minute to kill 15 huge seconds on the clock.

“That’s their gift,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “They have the great instincts and puck skills. You don’t win without your best players playing at their best at the most important moments of the year.”

Minnesota coach Don Lucia added, “Bjork was the best player on the ice tonight.”

2. At this time of year, little things become huge

Minnesota had chances to put Notre Dame away when it still had the 2-0 lead, but couldn’t do it.

“We left some opportunities on the ice to extend the lead,” Lucia said.

At 10:28 of the second period, Jackson called a timeout, his team down 2-0 to the favored Golden Gophers. Five minutes later, the game was tied.

Coincidence? Perhaps.

But Minnesota’s bad line change that led to Notre Dame’s first goal was no coincidence at all. It was the opening the Irish needed.

And then on the tying goal, there was a “what might have been” moment.

“One of our best players was right with a guy but doesn’t pick up a stick,” Lucia said.

Finally, in the closing minute with Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn pulled, Justin Kloos hit the post.

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

3. Notre Dame’s win sets up an all-Hockey East matchup that heavily favors Lowell

In Minnesota, Notre Dame may have been playing a future Big Ten opponent, one the Irish has faced the last six years in nonconference play. But until the season ends, they’re still a Hockey East team. As a result, it’ll be an all-Hockey East regional championship game, albeit a less-than-desirable matchup for them.

Just a week ago, the River Hawks manhandled Notre Dame 5-1 in the Hockey East semifinals, prompting Jackson to admit the obvious.

“This is familiar territory,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said after the loss. “UMass Lowell is a great team and they certainly have our number. They have ever since we started playing them three or four years ago. Same thing tonight.”

Are the Irish destined to fall again to the River Hawks?

“First of all, we need to show up,” Jackson said on Saturday. “Last week was an anomaly to me because that wasn’t the team I’ve seen over the last eight weeks.

“I think they were mesmerized by the moment, never having played in a big venue like [Boston’s TD Garden] before. That was a deer-in-the-headlights moment for us. Hopefully, going through that will help us.

“But I’m at least glad we got our game back in the latter stages of this game.”

16 COMMENTS

    • The U of M Needs to give Don Lucia his Pink Slip!!!!!!! And not resign him to a New Contract. It’s Time For Donny to go!!!!!!!

        • So big deal , your on his Bandwagon , I have been off his Bandwagon for the past 10 years!!!!!!!
          Any High School hockey coach in Minnesota could do what Don Lucha has done at the U of M for half the money!!!!!!!

          Todays Gopher game under Lucia was totally Pathetic to say the least!!!!!!!

        • So Sorry , I Miss Read Your Post!!!!! I DIDN’T SEE THE WORD , ‘ DUMP ‘ , I APOLOGIZE FOR MY DISGUSTING CONDITION!!!!!!!!!

      • Donny doesn’t play. The Gophs have all been playing hockey since they were little children. Most of them probably can’t remember a time when they weren’t hockey players. Sadly, it’s just too difficult for Gopher fans to accept that there’s all kinds of hockey talent available and some of it won’t end up practicing in Mariucci Arena. Too bad.

        • OK , so let’s blame all the the Gopher loses on the the kids ; Because coaching has nothing has to do with it! So then why have a coach ? Right?
          The last 2 periods of today’s game the Gophers weren’t even in the the game they were so out played in all areas of the game by ND! And that has to do with poor coaching sir!

          • Success in college sports is more about recruiting than x’s and o’s. Since the Gophs can only offer so many scholarships for so many hockey players, they’re not going to get every great one and even the stars they do get leave before their eligibility is used up to go pro. Evidently Lucia should sign players that are good, but not too good.

            If the Gopher players, who all know how to play hockey, can’t motivate themselves individually and collectively to win games, they’re the problem, not Lucia.

          • I would say there’s probably some truth to that. As a player, I know I would be more motivated to play for someone who appears to still have some passion for the game.

          • The Gophers have won 4 consecutive regular season titles so obviously they have some consistency over that span. However, if you look at their non-conference and/or in-state record over that same span, its pathetic. Most of those wins come in the Big 10, which is not very good. Its better this year than it was the last couple years, but its still not on par with old WCHA or current NCHC competition. Lucia has no emotion or fire left and that is obvious even during the game when he’s on the bench. Get some new blood in there. Get someone in there who gets a little fired up sometimes.

  1. Personally, I’m not a fan of schools and organizations dumping a coach after a season or two that doesn’t go the way people think it should. That being said, I do agree that it’s time for Lucia to go. The Gophers had/have plenty of talent, but absolutely no killer instinct or sense of urgency. 3 minutes left to go in a game that determines the rest of your season, and they played like they were playing a Canadian school in an October exhibition game. It’s a bummer to see it go down the way it did, but Notre Dame clearly wanted it more and did what it took to make that happen.

  2. The biggest takeaway is that Omaha is now free to hire Mike Guentzel to be their next head coach. At a minimum, they are talking to him.

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