MINNEAPOLIS – Notre Dame scored the only goal of the night on Friday at 3M Arena at Mariucci as the Irish earned a 1-0 victory over the Gopher Hockey program in the opening game of this weekend’s Big Ten quarterfinal series. The Gophers will look to even the series up on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT.
The opening game in the best-of-three series proved to be a defensive battle with both teams’ penalty kills shining over the 60-minute contest. The two Big Ten rivals each went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill with Minnesota (14-14-7) killing a five-minute major in the second period and Notre Dame (15-13-7) killing a major of its own midway through the final period to hold on to the one-goal lead.
Trevor Janicke’s lone tally at 16:24 of the second period ended up being the deciding goal on Friday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci with Colin Theisen and Mike O’Leary picking up assists.
Cale Morris earned the shutout with 12 saves to improve to 12-12-7 on the year while Jack LaFontaine made 25 saves on 26 shots to fall to 7-9-6 on the year.
Minnesota was held to a season-low 12 shots on goal and was outshot 26-12 on the night.
The Gophers look to even the series with the Irish on Saturday, March 7 at 7:00 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS – Max Meyer became the first Gopher pitcher to strike out 15 batters in a game since Glen Perkins in 2004 as Minnesota returned to the win column Friday night with a 6-4 victory over Utah.
After striking out a career-high 14 batters last Friday in a complete game gem against North Carolina, Meyer took his swing-and-miss stuff to the next level against the Utes. Meyer’s 15 strikeouts versus Utah signified a new career best, as the Gopher ace has now struck out double-digit batters in three consecutive starts for a combined 39 strikeouts over that span.
Meyer lasted eight innings on the hill, allowing three runs (zero earned) on four hits and two walks. Although it took the right-hander 118 pitches to get the Gophers through the eighth, Meyer ultimately earned his third win of the season (3-1) and reduced his earned run average to 1.95.
The Minnesota offense did their job in providing Meyer with enough run support in the contest, taking the lead in the third inning and never looking back from there. Zack Raabe opened the scoring in the third with his first of three hits on the night, driving in Andrew Wilhite with an RBI single to right field.
Drew Hmielewski added a second run to the Gopher lead in the fourth with an RBI single of his own. In the fifth, Raabe laced a two-strike double down the left field line that again plated Wilhite to put Minnesota in control, 3-0. Jack Wassel made it back-to-back doubles by driving a ball into the left-center field gap the very next at bat, as Raabe came around to score for the Maroon and Gold’s fourth run.
With a 4-0 advantage in the eighth, the game began to get interesting. Utah loaded up the bases on an infield single, walk and subsequent fielding error by Meyer. The Utes then used a two-out, bases-clearing double to left-center field to cut Minnesota’s lead to one run.
Meyer escaped the eighth by striking out his record-setting 15th batter and that would more-or-less seal the deal for the U on Friday night. Jordan Kozicky delivered a clutch, two-out single to center in the bottom of the eighth that scored two runs and put the Gophers up, 6-3.
Having played the entirety of the game in right field and already with a single to his credit, Sam Ireland moved from the outfield to the pitcher’s mound in an attempt to close out the game in the ninth. Ireland worked a fairly uneventful frame to record his first career save, only allowing a single run on a two-out solo home run to left.
With Ireland nailing down the save, Meyer earned his third win of the season in the game. Utah starter Justin Kelly received the loss, lasting six full innings and giving up four runs (two earned) on nine hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
LONG BEACH, CA – The Gophers had a pair of tough battles to start spring break in Long Beach, Calif. with a 2-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton and a 3-2 victory in eight innings over Long Beach State. The win over Long Beach was the Gophers third extra innings game of the season.
Game One: Cal State Fullerton 2, Minnesota 0
Amber Fiser pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts and only allowed two runs but the Gophers bats never got going in a 2-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton.
MaKenna Partain and Natalie DenHartog were the lone Gopher hits. Partain smacked her seventh double of the season in the third but was left there. DenHartog hit a single in the fourth and stole second but wasn’t able to move past there.
Cal State Fullerton plated runs in the fourth and sixth innings in the win.
Game Two: Minnesota 3, Long Beach State 2 (8 innings)
With worries of running out of sunlight to finish the game, the Gophers turned a double play in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure their first extra innings victory of the season.
Long Beach went ahead in the bottom of the second after stringing a few hits together, but the Gophers quickly answered in the top of the third. Brooke Vander Heide reached on a two out walk and DenHartog quickly made it count with a home run to right field. DenHartog leads the Gophers with six home runs and 21 RBIs on the year.
The Gophers field was sharp all day with zero errors in either game. They cleaned up all evening against Long Beach with Partain and Katelyn Kemmetmueller each recording three assists and two putouts.
Long Beach knotted the game up in the fifth when they put together a single followed by a double down the right field line.
Autumn Pease went five innings in the circle for the Gophers. The California native struck out three batters while scattering seven hits and only allowing two runs. Fiser came in for the final three innings and fired in three strikeouts of her own.
The Gophers executed with a sacrifice bunt to take advantage of the international tiebreak rule and move Vander Heide to third in the eighth. Emily Hansen delivered a single to left to bring in the game winning run.
The Gophers turned two right after to move to 13-8 on the season. Fiser is 8-7 after taking both the loss and the win in today’s games.