Irish split series against Buckeyes, face BC on Wednesday
Nate Moller | Wednesday, January 19, 2022
The 13th-ranked Irish (16-7-0, 9-5-0-4-1-0 B1G) returned to action this past weekend to face off against the 15th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (16-7-1, 8-5-1-0-1-1 B1G) in Columbus. Although the Irish managed to win the first game 3-2 in overtime, they dropped the second game by a score of 4-1.
In game one, it was the Buckeyes who scored first with junior forward Kamil Sadlocha slipping a backhander past junior goaltender Ryan Bischel. There was a long review on the play for offsides, but the goal stood for the Buckeyes.
The Irish would generate some good looks over the remainder of the first period, but they were unable to find the back of the net and the Buckeyes took the lead into the locker room at the first intermission.
At the beginning of the second period, the Irish quickly tied it up with senior forward Graham Slaggert beating Ohio State freshman goaltender Jakub Dobes five-hole for his sixth goal of the season at the 3:20 mark. Slaggert was assisted on the play by his sophomore brother Landon.
The Irish continued to keep pressure on the Buckeyes during the rest of the second period, but Dobes fought off a couple Irish shots to keep the score level at one apiece.
With just over five minutes remaining in the period, the Irish were finally able to break through and score, taking a 2-1 lead. This time it was Landon Slaggert who followed up a shot from sophomore forward Ryder Rolston.
The Buckeyes then quickly tied it up just a couple of minutes later on a delayed penalty with senior forward Jake Wise finding the back of the net. The Irish were then able to kill off the ensuing Buckeye power play to force an overtime period.
The Irish ended the game quickly in overtime with senior forward Jake Pivonka finding Landon Slaggert in the neutral zone. Slaggert then found senior defenseman Spencer Stastney in front of a two-on-one, and Stastney snuck the puck past Dobes to give the Irish a 3-2 overtime victory.
On Saturday night, the Irish fell 4-1 to the Buckeyes despite outshooting them by a 39-22 margin.
The Buckeyes struck first yet again on Saturday during a power play with senior forward Quinn Preston scoring off of a rebound at the 3:18 mark of the first period.
Although the Buckeyes got another power play only minutes later, senior forward Cam Burke intercepted Dobes’ clearing attempt and slipped the puck into the back of the net to tie the game at one apiece at the 6:44 mark of the first period.
The Irish would generate two power plays over the remainder of the first period, but they failed to take advantage and the game remained tied after twenty minutes of play.
After killing off a Buckeyes power play to open up the second period, the Irish earned a 5-on-3 chance due to a pair of minor penalties on the Buckeyes. The Irish had some great looks, but Dobes made eight saves over the power play to keep the game tied.
Junior forward Trevor Janicke had a great look at the end of the third period, but he was denied by Dobes, and the Buckeyes brought the puck down the ice quickly to score and take a 2-1 lead with 40 seconds remaining in the second period.
The Irish then turned the puck over at the 4:11 mark of the third period, and the Buckeyes would capitalize off the mistake to take a 3-1 lead. The Buckeyes would score again at the 16:21 mark of the third period to secure a 4-1 victory.
With the loss on Saturday, the Irish dropped to fourth in the Big Ten standings, and the Buckeyes moved up to second.
The Irish will return to action this Wednesday at the Compton Family Ice Arena where they will have a non-conference game against Boston College (10-8-3, 5-6-2-1-0-1 HEA). This game was rescheduled from November when the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Boston College program.
Senior forward Jake Pivonka has been a key player for the Irish as of late since his recent return from a six month injury, especially during faceoffs.
Head coach Jeff Jackson discussed the importance of Pivonka’s faceoff winning capabilities.
“Having Jake back gives us that threat of winning a draw, especially in certain situations. There are key points in games over the last couple of weeks when he has been back, whether it’s on the penalty kill, whether it’s 5-on-3, whether it’s 3-on-3,” Jackson said. “Faceoffs might not always lead directly to goals and scoring chances, but they lead to possession and you can’t have goals and scoring chances without it.”
Jackson also talked about the development of sophomore forward Ryder Rolston so far this season.
“Ryder has a great shot and we are just trying to teach him when to shoot and when not to shoot,” Jackson said. “We want him to show a little more poise and recognize when that shot is available, so he can use that big shot. I think he is learning patience and poise and I think that is crucial to his game.”
Boston College and Notre Dame are longtime rivals and have played each other every season since 1995-1996 with the exception of the 1999-2000, 2005-06, 2017-18 and 2020-21 seasons. The Irish were supposed to play Boston College in last year’s NCAA Tournament before being unable to play due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Eagles currently lead the series 23-20-3 and won their last game against the Irish in 2019 by a score of 6-1.
The puck will drop at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and the game can be viewed on Peacock or Fighting Irish TV.