Notre Dame, Ind. - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish battled back from a pair of two-goal deficits on Saturday night, but it wasn't enough as the top-rank Minnesota Golden Gophers scored the lone goal of the third period to take a 5-4 decision in front of 4,862 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Jake Bischoff's shot from the left circle through a screen beat Irish netminder Steven Summerhays at 8:57 of the third period and was the difference in the game.
The Gophers were led by a pair of freshmen right wings - Hudson Fasching with two goals and Taylor Cammarata who had a goal and two assists on the night - and rookie center Justin Kloos who had Minnesota's fifth goal in the game.
Notre Dame got two goals from Mario Lucia and single goals from defensemen Shayne Taker and Stephen Johns while freshman Vince Hinostroza assisted on three of the four Irish goals.
The loss snaps and 11-game home winning streak for the Irish that started last Jan. 26 and drops No. 3/4 Notre Dame to 7-3-0 on the season. For No. 1 Minnesota, the win improves the Gophers to 6-1-1 overall.
After knocking off Minnesota on Friday night by a 4-1 score, the Irish expected the Gophers to come out flying in Saturday's contest and that's what happened as they scored three times in an offensive-minded first period.
"I expected them to be better tonight. I don't think we were as good as last night and obviously that combination is not a good one," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"I thought we worked hard all night. We had some key guys who maybe didn't have as good a night as they should have. That was the biggest issue. Tonight, their top line was like ours was last night. They scored a couple of key goals. I give our guys credit, they bounced back twice."
Cammarata opened the scoring at 7:46 of the opening period, getting a power-play goal for his third of the season.
With the puck behind the goal, the 5-7 Cammarata came up with it and was able to come from behind the goal and tuck the puck inside the right post past Summerhays to make it 1-0.
Fasching got his first of the night at 10:29 of an Irish turnover behind the goal. He carried it out the left side and as Summerhays anticipated a pass, the big freshman tucked the puck inside the left post for his fourth of the season to give Minnesota its first two-goal lead of the night.
The Irish answered back at 12:35 with Taker cutting the lead in half as he took a cross-rink pass from Hinostroza on the right side and whipped a shot that appeared to go off Gopher goaltender Adam Wilcox' glove and into the goal for Taker's second of the season.
The Gophers restored the two-goal lead at 15:04 when Kloos picked up his third goal of the year when he beat Summerhays with a wrist shot from the bend in the left circle to make it 3-1.
Notre Dame wasn't done in the period and for the second time, Hinostroza helped set up the goal. The 5-9 pepper pot blocked a Minnesota pass in the slot and quickly fired a shot on Wilcox. The Gopher goaltender made the stop but the rebound found its way to Lucia's stick on the left side and the sophomore flipped it into the back of the net at 19:43 for his third goal of the season to send the game to intermission with Minnesota in front, 3-2.
The two teams traded 29 shots in the opening stanza.
Minnesota was able to re-establish its two-goal lead at 7:09 of the second period as Fasching netted his second of the night and fifth of the year, firing the rebound of a blocked shot through a screen and past Summerhays to make it 4-2.
The never-say die Irish had an answer and it came from Lucia who followed another shot by Hinostroza at 13:38 and tucked it in the back of the net for his fourth of the season to make it 4-3.
The three-point night (2g, 1a) had to be especially satisfying for Lucia as it came against Minnesota where his father, Don Lucia, a 1981 Notre Dame grad is in his 15th season as the head coach.
"All I had to do was put them in," said Lucia following the game.
"Those goals were gifts but I will take them. I was just in the right spot at the right time. Scoring goals gives you confidence. I've been playing hard, but the points haven't been coming but they finally came tonight."
With three minutes left in the period, the Gophers' Tom Serratore received a five-minute major for kneeing Hinostroza on a knee-to-knee collision in the neutral zone. Just under two minutes later Kyle Rau received a minor for roughing and the Irish had a five-on-three for two full minutes.
They only needed 1:13 as Johns scored his second of the season from right in front as he converted a pass from Bryan Rust and redirected the puck past Wilcox to tie the game at 4-4.
The Irish could not score on the remaining two minutes of the major penalty to open the third period and the score remained tied until Bischoff got the winner at 8:57.
Minnesota finished with the edge in shots, 34-33, and each goaltender had 29 saves in the game. Both teams were 1-for-4 on the power play.
"We didn't play our A game tonight and we still had a chance to win," said Jackson.
" That says a lot about our team. At least we know that when we have everyone going, we can compete with the best teams in the country. We need to get back on a winning roll here. We've split the last three weekends so we need to get back to having some success."
The chance to get on a roll will come next weekend as Notre Dame continues its four-game home stand on Nov. 15-16. The Irish open their Hockey East home schedule with a visit from the Merrimack College Warriors. Friday's game has a 7:35 p.m.
* Mario Lucia's three-point game equaled a career high set last Jan. 26 when he had a goal and two assists in a win over Ferris State.
* Vince Hinostroza's three-assist game was a career high for assists and equaled his career-best three-point game (2g, 1a) set on Oct. 20 in a 7-3 win over Michigan Tech.