Notre Dame loses, ties against No. 5 Wisconsin
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, February 23, 2021
This past weekend, the Notre Dame hockey team looked to avenge their season-opening sweep by Wisconsin, but the Irish (10-12-2, 8-10-2 Big Ten) left LaBahn Arena in Madison with a loss and a tie against the No. 5 Badgers (15-8-1, 13-6-1 Big Ten).
Notre Dame started strong Friday, with junior forward Alex Steeves scoring a goal 31 seconds after the puck dropped to start the game. Junior forward Graham Slaggert and freshman forward Landon Slaggert both earned assists on the play, a puck that was deflected past Badgers graduate student goaltender Robbie Beydoun.
The same cast of characters teamed up again eight minutes later as the Irish added to their lead. The elder Slaggert notched his sixth goal of the season, with Steeves and Landon Slaggert providing assists.
The home team got on the board early in the second period, however, and they evened the score at 2-2 midway through the period on a power play. This ended a perfect 18-for-18 penalty-killing record while on the road for Notre Dame this season. The Irish outshot the Badgers 10-8 in the frame but were unable to find the back of the net.
Linus Weissbach gave Wisconsin the lead eight minutes into the third, and Notre Dame was unable to convert on any of their looks, as they were held to seven shots while allowing twelve. Irish senior goaltender Dylan St. Cyr headed to the bench with 1:19 left in the game, but the extra man was not enough and the Badgers added an empty-net goal with 25 seconds left.
The Irish battled to a tie in their second matchup of the weekend Saturday night, but they earned the extra Big Ten point for the team with a shootout win. After a rough first two periods, with only one Notre Dame goal being scored, the squad came back to gain four goals in the third, pushing the game to an overtime period, which ended without any more scoring.
This matchup marked milestones for certain players on the team: St. Cyr had a season-high 39 saves, while Alex Steeves, Landon Slaggert, senior forward Colin Theisen and sophomore forward Max Ellis all walked away with multi-point games.
The Irish started early again, as sophomore forward Trevor Janicke scored a goal in the first five minutes of the game, marking his second of the season. Notre Dame then saw of their two shots bounce harmlessly off the post, and their early lead was nixed when Wisconsin scored by the end of the period, with Ty Pelton-Byce pushing the puck across the goal line during a power play.
In the second period, after shutting down another power play on Wisconsin’s end, the team fell behind just after the Irish returned to full strength. The Badgers extended their lead to two points six minutes later, with Wisconsin’s Cole Caufield pocketing his nineteenth goal of the season. Even with Ellis’s attempt at leveling the score, the stats remained against Notre Dame.
The third was a flurry of scoring both teams, starting with the Irish. Steeves quickly narrowed the gap with a successful shot during a power play seven minutes in, and a minute later Ellis’s pass to Theisen garnered a goal, tying the game again at 3-3. A quick succession of goals followed; Wisconsin fired back, putting them up once again, but Steeves responded again with his second goal of the game. Notre Dame’s retook the lead 36 seconds later on another assist from Ellis, with sophomore forward Solag Bakich gaining the goal.
Wisconsin pulled their goalkeeper in the final minutes, and the gambit paid off for them. Pelton-Byce shot the game-tying wrister with 27 seconds left in regulation, and the teams headed to overtime. Despite an early Irish power play, neither team scored in the extra 20 minutes and the game ended in a statistical tie at 5-5.
In the shootout for conference standings, Ellis got the score in the second round, and with St. Cyr not letting a puck past him, the Irish got two Big Ten points.
The Irish go back on the road next weekend for a pair of games against Michigan State, the start times of which have yet not been announced.