Notre Dame Hockey: Fighting Irish Beat Gophers for the First Time Since 1980

Brian@@IrishChesterCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2012

ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 07:  Jeff Costello #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates his goal with Sean Lorenz #24 in the first period against the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs  during semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Men's Frozen Four on April 7, 2011 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

For the first time since November 8, 1980, the Notre Dame Men's Hockey team defeated the Minnesota Gophers. Junior center Riley Sheahan led the way with two goals and on assist as #5/6 Notre Dame toppled #3/3 Minnesota 4-3 on its home ice at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, MN.

Sophomore center T.J. Tynan was welcomed back to the lineup with a goal of his own on a power play in the first period. Tynan had missed the prior week while playing for the U.S. in the World Junior Championships.

Irish goalkeeper Steven Summerhays tallied 31 saves on the night as he outmatched the Gophers' Kent Patterson. If it weren't for Patterson, the final score could have been 10-3 but the Gophers' net minder came up with a few point blank saves to help keep his team in contention until the end.

Notre Dame dominated play throughout much of the contest, keeping the puck in their zone and killing three of Minnesota's five power play opportunities.

The win marked the third in a row (fourth if you count an exhibition match over the Russian Red Stars) for the Irish. Notre Dame, now ranked #3, hosts #10 Western Michigan on Friday, Jan. 13 at 7:35pm EST from Compton Family Ice Arena in a game televised by CBS Sports Network. On Saturday, Jan. 14, they travel to Kalamazoo to complete the home-and-home series with the Broncos.

One week later, Jeff Jackson's squad hosts #15 Michigan for two games at Compton Family Ice Arena. Friday Jan. 20, the puck drops at 7:35pm EST with national TV coverage by the newly minted NBC Sports Network. The puck drops at the same time the next evening but will this time be televised on CBS Sports Network.

Touching Tributes
Before the opening face-off against the Gophers, a moment of silence was held for Charles "Lefty" Smith, Jr., who passed away several days before on Jan. 4. Born in St. Paul, MN, Lefty is the father of Fighting Irish hockey, leading Notre Dame's first varsity team in 1968 and spending a total of 19 seasons as the head coach of the Irish. He was 81.

Another fallen member was honored during the game. Jack Jablonski, a local hockey player for Benilde-St. Margaret's, suffered a life threatening injury after an accidental check from behind caused a severe spinal cord injury. He miraculously was able to move his arms eight days after accident, much to the surprise of his doctors. It is believed he will never walk again.

Proceeds from the Gopher's 'Chuck-a-Puck' contest went towards The Jack Jablonski Fund. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Jablonski family and BSM community.