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Notre Dame earns win behind Burke’s overtime goal

| Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Despite statistical advantages on the ice, No. 8 Notre Dame required junior forward Cal Burke to clean up a game-winning goal in sudden death overtime to escape from Compton Family Ice Arena with a 2-1 victory over Northern Michigan.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish junior forward Cal Burke controls the puck and looks for a shot during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 2 at Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish found the back of the net for the first goal of the night, put 35 shots on goal compared to Northern Michigan’s 19 and were awarded seven power-play opportunities to the Wildcats’ two. However, No. 8 Notre Dame (8-4-1, 4-2-0 Big Ten) failed to convert its scoring opportunities into goals consistently, going 0-for-6 on the power play in regulation, but an overtime power play goal off the stick of Burke handed Northern Michigan (6-9-0, 5-3-0 WCHA) a narrow defeat at the hands of a top-10 opponent.

“Our mantra this year is to start fast and finish strong, and I think we did both,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said. “Tonight I thought, again, we had several good scoring chances on the power play. We just didn’t quite connect … but it’s just important, obviously I think, for their confidence to be able to score, especially the game-winner tonight.”

Within the opening minutes of play, Northern Michigan went on the power play after Notre Dame freshmen forward Alex Steeves was sent to the penalty box for boarding.

Following a sweep over Michigan State before the Thanksgiving holiday, Irish head coach Jeff Jackson credited the penalty kill corps for killing six Spartan power plays in the weekend series against a Big Ten Conference rival. That same corps easily erased a two-minute Northern Michigan power play to bring the Irish back to full strength early in the first period.

Midway through the first period, the Irish went on a power play of their own when Northern Michigan’s Philip Beaulieu was sent to the penalty box for holding. Notre Dame failed to capitalize on the two-minute extra-man opportunity, and the game remained scoreless late into the first period.

The power play unit has struggled to put points on the board for the Irish this season, and that trend continued early on Tuesday night. Entering the contest, Notre Dame converted only eight goals on 47 power play attempts, good for a 17-percent clip that is 39th-best in Division 1 hockey.

“I think the whole team is a little frustrated at times with our power play, and it’s not for a lack of effort. … The first thing that has to happen is you have to get scoring chances, you know, and eventually they’re going to start going in,” Jackson said.

Steeves was loitering just outside the crease when he received the puck from sophomore forward Colin Theisen and snuck it past the Northern Michigan goalkeeper. The goal, Steeves’ third on the season, gave the Irish a 1-0 lead that they would take into the first intermission.

Within the first five minutes of the second period, the Irish found themselves in another power play opportunity when Northern Michigan’s Jarrett Lee was penalized for hooking, but the Wildcats successfully killed the extra-man opportunity to maintain the one-goal deficit.

Shortly after the power-play chance, the Irish flew down the ice with a genuine scoring opportunity, but freshman defenseman Nate Clurman mishandled a pass near the crease and could not capitalize on the fast break.

Late in the third period, Northern Michigan awarded Notre Dame their third power play opportunity of the night when Connor Frantti was penalized two minutes for slashing. The Irish once again struggled on the power play and failed to find the back of the net despite the personnel advantage.

Shortly after Northern Michigan killed off the Notre Dame power play, they went on an extra-man opportunity of their own when freshman forward Michael Graham was penalized for hooking. Only seven seconds after Graham was sent to the penalty box, the Wildcats converted on the power play when Darien Craighead sent the puck screaming past junior goaltender Cale Morris to tie the game at one goal each.

The Irish attempted to reclaim the lead early in the third period as Cal Burke sent a shot flying off the right leg pad of Northern Michigan goalie Atte Tolvanen. Later in the period, Notre Dame was awarded its fourth power-play chance of the night after Adam Rockwood was sent to the penalty box for tripping. Once again, however, the Irish failed to turn the extra-man opportunity into points on the scoreboard.

With the game tied at one at the end of regulation, Wildcats dragged the Irish into a five-minute sudden-death overtime period. Notre Dame claimed the opening faceoff and controlled the puck in Northern Michigan’s third of the ice for the opening minute. After a shot by Notre Dame senior forward Dylan Mamquist was blocked near the mouth of the goal, Burke was there to clean up the rebound and send the Irish home with a 2-1 victory.

“We need him,” Jackson said of Burke. “We have to rely on him to be a productive player.”

Notre Dame will get back on the ice this Friday when it hosts RPI for a weekend series at Compton Family Ice Arena.

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