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As Notre Dame celebrated a first round upset in front of its net,  Gophers men hockey coach Don Lucia approached a few of his downtrodden  seniors on the ice, their college careers, which began with a national  championship game berth, now over without an NCAA tournament win since.

Lucia  offered a few words and patted the players on the back while they stood  stoically, their once promising season that offered dreams of a return  to the Frozen Four over because of another early exit on college hockey  biggest stage, a 3 2 loss Saturday to the Fighting Irish.

The  Gophers failed to make the NCAA tournament a year ago and lost to  Minnesota Duluth in Manchester two years ago, the start of their late  season drought.

But this loss was likely the most disappointing of  the past three seasons, which have yielded regular season conference  championships but not NCAA tournament success.

Two years ago, the  Gophers were underdogs against a talented Minnesota Duluth team that was  the No. 2 seed in the region. But in Saturday loss, the Gophers were  the No. 1 seed playing a Notre Dame team that finished the season  outside of the top 10.

Yet the Gophers are the only of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament that didn advance to the second round.

couple  years ago when we were here, we lost to a higher seed, Lucia said. didn  play great, but we lost to a good team. And today we lost to a good  team, too. It came right down to the end. It a single game. Gophers  surrendered three unanswered goals in Saturday afternoon loss at SNHU  Arena, blowing a 2 0 advantage in a game that turned one sided.

For the first 30 minutes, Lucia team was easily the better side. But a second cheap wholesale jerseys  period lapse erased Minnesota lead, and the Gophers struggled to  generate much offense in the final stanza, while Notre Dame scored the  game winner on a power play midway through the third period.

Anders Bjork, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award along with the cheap wholesale jerseys  Gophers Tyler Sheehy, scored Notre Dame equalizer and game winner, the  latter when a rebound bounced to his stick and he shot past Minnesota  goalie Eric Schierhorn.

had to stretch out with everything I had  in order to make that first save, Schierhorn said. then I just couldn  quite recover. I saw the play unfold and everything; I just couldn  recover in time. Gophers squandered a lead built in the first 21 minutes  thanks to a pair of back to back poor shifts that turned a 2 0  advantage into a 2 2 tie in less than 60 seconds.

First, Minnesoa took a Cheap Aaron Hernandez Jersey  bad line change after being hemmed in its own zone, and as the third  line lackadaisically skated to the bench, Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen  quickly sent an outlet pass ahead. Andrew Oglevie buried his shot from  the left circle that cut the deficit to one goal and provided his  netminder an assist.

Fifty four seconds later, a pretty tic tac  toe sequence finished in front of Gophers defenseman Jake Bischoff led  to the equalizer with less than five minutes remaining in the second  period.

of our best players was right with the guy and doesn pick up the stick, Lucia said of the tying goal.

The  Gophers had opened that period with an early power play goal that  provided a 2 0 lead. Vinni Lettieri potted a fine cross ice feed from  Leon Bristedt 30 seconds into the middle period for his 19th goal of the  season. That followed Connor Reilly tally to open the scoring.

But  after building a lead, the Gophers watched as Notre Dame netted three  straight to send Minnesota home early from another NCAA tournament.

thought  we had a pretty good second period, Lucia said. had some good  opportunities. Just a couple mistakes. And that what comes back to bite  you in these single elimination games. You don get to watch video in the  morning and correct mistakes and say, go play tonight.

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