Notre Dame’s offensive struggles continued in its weekend doubleheader with Ohio State as the No. 11/8 Irish tied the Buckeyes 2-2 Saturday — Ohio State earned the edge in the tie by winning the shoot out 2-1 — after winning 3-1 Friday.
“We got a tie and a win out of the weekend, which is not bad,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “I would prefer two wins, but hopefully it helps us.”
All four regulation goals Saturday were scored on power plays, one for each team in the first and third periods, respectively. Ten seconds into a power play, Notre Dame freshman Riley Sheahan got a shot past Buckeyes goaltender Cal Heeter with five minutes left in the first period. Three minutes later, Irish senior Dan Kissel was called for tripping and gave Ohio State (2-5-1, 1-2-1-1) a two-minute power play. Buckeyes junior Hunter Bishop used the advantage to tie the game 1-1.
In the third period, Irish senior Kyle Lawson capitalized on another five-on-four advantage, giving Notre Dame (4-3-1, 1-0-1-0 CCHA) a 2-1 lead.
“To be honest, I knew it was the end of the [power play] and there was a couple seconds running down there,” Lawson said. “I just threw it on the net. I was surprised as anybody.”
Clinging to the 2-1 margin, Irish senior captain Ryan Thang was called for slashing, giving Ohio State its third power play advantage of the game. Sophomore Zac Dalpe slipped a shot past Irish junior netminder Brad Phillips to tie the score at two with 15 minutes left in regulation.
“[Phillips] has to learn how to close [games] out,” Jackson said. “I didn’t think the power play goal by Dalpe was a good goal. It was a wrist shot from outside the top of the circles. I didn’t think it was a great goal. We need that save.”
Regulation ended without another goal and five minutes of overtime passed quietly. The climatic shoot out began with goals on each side, as Ohio State junior John Albert shot the puck between Phillips’ legs, and Irish sophomore Billy Maday evened things up with a shot between Heeter and the right post.
Neither side struck in the second round of the shoot out. Bishop out-juked Phillips in the third round, and after Heeter knocked away Notre Dame junior Ben Ryan’s shot, the Buckeyes had earned an extra point in the CCHA standings with a shoot out victory.
“I don’t think we lost in a shoot out last year, so it’s hard to be on the wrong end of that,” Lawson said. “Sometimes the puck goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. [Scoring] is not my job. My job is to keep the puck out of the back of the net. It is definitely tough to lose that way.”
Friday Notre Dame used power play goals from junior Calle Ridderwall and senior Dan Kissel, along with an open net score from Maday, to top the Buckeyes. Freshman goaltender Mike Johnson anchored the Irish defense by stopping 27 of 28 shots. The only shot to slip by Johnson occurred with two Irish players in the penalty box to give the Buckeyes a five-on-three advantage.
In his second career start, Johnson put together a second consecutive stellar start, putting pressure on Phillips in the top goaltender position.
“[Johnson] in my opinion, is starting to challenge for that number one spot,” Jackson said after Saturday’s game. “I will have some patience with Brad just because of the layoff he had, but he has to show me he can win games.”
The Notre Dame offense will look to finally erupt, and perhaps the goalie dilemma will sort itself out, when the Irish head to Alaska Friday for a two-game weekend series.
“Alaska is a very tough team to play against, as people have seen last year and this year,” Jackson said. “It is going to be challenging … We have to play real smart hockey with the puck and without it.”