MINNESOTA DULUTH EDGES PAST NOTRE DAME, 4-3
Sophomore forward J.T. Brown picks up goal and assist for Bulldogs
On a night when it unveiled its 2011 NCAA championship banner, the University of Minnesota Duluth couldn't have asked for a better result.
Senior center Travis Oleksuk's game-winning goal 4:24 into overtime capped off what was indeed a banner evening for the Bulldogs as they toppled the top-ranked Notre Dame 4-3 at AMSOIL Arena in the season opener for both clubs.
No. 8 UMD, which defeated the Fighting Irish by that same count in last April's Frozen Four semifinals on the way to its first national title, also got goals from junior left winger Mike Seidel, junior right wingerKeegan Flaherty and sophomore right winger J.T. Brown in the victory which came before a charged up crowd of 6,296. Seidel's goal was his ninth in the last two years but first in Duluth since his freshman season while Flaherty's score was his first in 75 career games with the Bulldogs. That tandem struck two minutes apart midway through the first period which put UMD up 2-1.
"Finally getting a goal at home is definitely a weight off my chest," said Seidel. "It was great play by J.T. Brown and I don't know what I would have done if I missed it because he set me up with an open net."
Brown, the reigning Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player, and Notre Dame's Mike Voran traded second period power play goals to send the two clubs into the final intermission deadlocked at 2-2. Oleksuk, who topped the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in game winners last season with seven, used a screen to beat Fighting Irish goaltender Mike Johnson with a shot from the left face off circle and send the Bulldogs to their seventh win in their last eight games going back to last season.
The Bulldogs outshot Notre Dame 31-12 and only allowed one goal to the Irish in six power play chances. Senior netminder Kenny Reiter, making his 11th consecutive start, finished with 14 saves in posting his 30th career win.
"That was a total, 60-minute team effort tonight," said Flaherty. "I felt we were in great shape and kind of wore them down a bit. We didn't have too much play in our defensive zone and instead kept the puck in their end for a good part of the night.
UMD will try to complete its first season-opening sweep in 16 years when the two clubs collide again Saturday night at 7:07 p.m.