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ND drops pair of road contests against Ohio State

| Monday, February 4, 2019

This weekend, Notre Dame entered their series with Ohio State on a four-game unbeaten streak and just four points out of the No. 1 spot in the Big Ten. But, after two tightly contested losses to Ohio State, the Irish fell to third in the conference, sitting two points behind Minnesota.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish junior forward Cal Burke skates down the ice during Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 2 at Compton Family Ice Arena.

On Friday, the No. 11-ranked Irish (14-10-3, 7-8-2 Big Ten) found themselves down on the board after the first frame despite outshooting Ohio State (17-5-4, 10-3-3 Big Ten) and having several scoring chances of their own. The Buckeyes struck late in the period after senior forward Freddy Gerard found the back of the net with five minutes left.

The Buckeyes would carry their late goal momentum into the second period, scoring eight minutes in with a goal from sophomore forward Austin Pooley. But the Irish recovered with a power play goal from freshman forward Michael Graham. Junior forward Cam Morrison tied the game up just 34 seconds later, after tipping in a puck from junior defenseman Andrew Peeke.

The two teams entered the third period continuing to exchange scoring chances but it would be the Buckeyes that struck for the go-ahead goal after Gerard netted his second of the evening.  Despite opportunities to tie the game up again for the Irish, Ohio State put the game out of reach for Notre Dame with an empty net goal late in the third.

On Saturday, the Irish continued to struggle to solve the puzzle of sophomore goaltender Tommy Nappier, as he would go on to stop all 30 Irish attempts at the goal.

Notre Dame junior goalie Cale Morris and Nappier trades saves in the first period, each coming up big to hold both teams off the scoreboard. It eventually was the Buckeyes that broke the tie, after an early goal from Pooley put Ohio State up 1-0. The Irish pushed hard for the equalizer and looked to have found it with a goal from junior Cal Burke, but after a goaltender interference call, the score remained 1-0. Ohio State went go on to double their lead with a goal from junior forward Carson Meyer.

Despite the two losses sustained at the hands of the Buckeyes, head coach Jeff Jackson had praise for the effort of his team.

“I thought we played hard. We executed the game plan fairly well. They’re a good defensive team with good goaltending,” Jackson said. “We just couldn’t find a way to score and that was the difference in the game.”

Looking ahead, Jackson wants the team to be ready to play high level hockey through the remainder of the season.

“We have to make sure that we’re prepared to play our best hockey the rest of the way,” Jackson said. “Bringing those two horses back into the lineup certainly helped us. Cam scored yesterday and Cal had a goal today that was disallowed. We’re going to need those guys to give us some scoring. With the success that some of the other lines have been having, it hopefully bodes well for us getting back on track offensively.”

The Irish will be off during their Big Ten bye week but will be back in action to play three games in five days. Notre Dame will look to rebound against Michigan on Feb. 12 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

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