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Gophers men's hockey tops Notre Dame with overtime victory

Jimmy Snuggerud, the high-scoring right winger for the Gophers men's hockey team, entered Saturday night's game at Notre Dame on an eight game goal-scoring drought. That's an eternity for the St. Louis Blues first-round draft pick, who scored 21 goals last season and had 18 this year.

Make that 19, and the latest came at an opportune time.

Snuggerud beat Notre Dame goalie Ryan Bischel 78 seconds into the three-on-three overtime period, giving Minnesota a 3-2 victory over the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind.

"We call it a minor slump; he calls it a major slump," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said of Snuggerud. "That was a big-time response."

And an important one, too. The Gophers, who were humbled 6-1 by the Fighting Irish in Friday's series opener, improved to 19-8-5 overall and 12-6-4 in the Big Ten. They have 37 points and are third in the conference standings, five points behind second-place Wisconsin, which has four games remaining to Minnesota's two.

"Our guys battled all night long," Motzko said. "That's how we've been playing the last month, month-and-a-half. We wanted last night to be an aberration."

Connor Kurth and Jaxon Nelson also scored for the Gophers. Justen Close made 24 saves and assisted on Nelson's tying goal. Notre Dame (15-15-2, 10-10-2) got goals from Justin Janicke and Jayden Davis. Bischel stopped 36 shots.

The Gophers, who entered the series on a 9-1-1 run, are idle next weekend before finishing the regular season with a home series against Michigan on March 1-2.

Two weeks ago in the series finale at Wisconsin, the Gophers had two goals they thought should have counted either overturned by video challenge or waved off on the ice. Both involved a player making contact with a goalie, and Saturday, two more episodes had Motzko shaking his head.

With the Gophers up 1-0 on Kurth's goal that caromed off the skate of Notre Dame defenseman Zach Plucinski, Janicke scored on a wraparound at 6:27 of the second.

Motzko challenged for goaltender interference because Irish forward Tyler Carpenter ran into Close while battling for position with Aaron Huglen, but after a video review, officials ruled that there was no interference.

With 4:21 left in the third, the Gophers had the would-be go-ahead goal by Brody Lamb waved off after Huglen was knocked into Bischel by defenseman Jake Boltmann. Officials checked the video and ruled that the call on the ice stood.

"We had a lot of obstacles out there again tonight," Motzko said. "Holy mackerel, we were playing more than Notre Dame."

Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead at 13:22 of the second when Brady Bjork intercepted a pass at center ice and fed Davis, who fired at shot past Close.

The Gophers responded 18 seconds later. Nelson maneuvered around a Notre Dame defender and wired a shot over Bischel's glove to tie the score.

"What a play by Jaxon Nelson," Motzko said. "… He just buries it to get us back in the game."

Snuggerud ended it by taking a stretch pass from Huglen, using Irish forward Danny Nelson as a screen and firing the puck through Bischel.

"There was an extremely high battle level throughout our lineup," Motzko said.

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.