Irish survive and advance over Wisconsin in conference quarterfinals
Thomas Zwiller | Monday, March 7, 2022
After a 2-1 series win over Wisconsin in the quarter-finals of the Big Ten tournament, Notre Dame advances to the semi-finals, where they will take on Michigan. The Irish fell in game one but recovered in game two, forcing a game three where they took down the Badgers.
In the first game of the series, Wisconsin jumped out to a lead late in the first period. The goal came from Brock Caufield, assisted by Mathieu De St. Phalle and Carson Bantle.
Notre Dame did respond in the second period. The goal came from senior forward Graham Slaggert who converted on a power-play opportunity. Senior defenseman Nick Leivermann and sophomore forward Ryder Rolston had the assist.
Shortly after, Dominick Mersch gave Wisconsin a 2-1 lead (assists by Tyler Inamoto and Corson Ceulmans). Wisconsin’s forward provided a screen on a shot from Inamoto, preventing Irish graduate goaltender Matthew Galajda from seeing the puck. He then tipped in the shot, ultimately using the screen for himself.
With 5:57 to go in the third period Zach Urdahl, assisted by Sam Stange, scored the third and final Wisconsin goal to put the first game on ice for the Badgers. The third goal stemmed from a Wisconsin breakaway. Urdahl and Stange were able to get a two on one and complete the set.
Game two ended just as close, but the Irish won to force a game three.
The Irish punished Wisconsin for a penalty early in the first period. Graham Slaggert converted on the power play, with the assist coming from Rolston and sophomore forward Landon Slaggert. Rolston passed from the left side of the ice, behind the net to Landon. The younger Slaggert would pass it forward to Graham, who took the space on the ice that the defense gave him and let the shot fly.
However, Notre Dame seemed to catch the penalty bug from Wisconsin, as they would register four first-period penalties. Wisconsin earned three trips of their own to the penalty box. During a brief period where the two squads had overlapping penalties, sophomore defenseman Zach Pluciski scored a 4-4 goal, with the assist coming from senior forward Jake Pivonka and Leivermann. The goal came from a beautiful cross-ice pass by Leivermann to Pivonka. Pivonka displayed incredible awareness as he spun into the boards. He put his body between his man and the puck, chipped a pass to Pluciski, and created an opportunity. The Irish went up 2-0.
The second period would see a shift, with a holding penalty from freshman defenseman Jake Boltmann that allowed Roman Ahcan to convert on a power-play chance. The Badgers then took advantage of a Landon Slaggert head contact penalty, tying the game at two apiece.
With only 30 seconds left, it seemed like the game would go to OT, with Notre Dame’s season hanging in the balance. However, Graham Slaggert won a crucial neutral zone face-off and got the puck to senior defenseman Spencer Stastney, who drove the puck down behind the Badgers’ net. Stastney passed it to junior forward Trevor Janicke, who put the biscuit in the basket and kept Notre Dame’s conference title hopes alive.
Game three opened with a Notre Dame goal 11:22 into the game from graduate forward Jack Adams (assisted by freshman forward Hunter Strand and Leivermann). The next goal also belonged to the Irish, with Landon Slaggert converting the power play chance (assists by his brother Graham and Trevor Janicke). The puck got kicked up to the defensemen, who put the puck on net, with Slaggert able to get the cleanup. Both those goals came before the Badgers had two shots on net.
The Badgers would not go away quietly, however. Sophomore forward Sam Stange (Liam Malmquist, Jack Gorniak) put the Badgers back in the game with a goal late in the first.
The Irish, not intimated in the slightest, scored what might have been the best goal of the series early in the second. Adam Karashik attempted to put a shot on net but it was blocked by a defender. The puck then got picked up by Jake Pivonka who attempted his own shot and scooped up his rebound. Pivonka then passed the puck to Jesse Lansdell, skated to the slot, got the puck back, and shot it top shelf to give the Irish a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Badgers would not go away quietly, though. Wisconsins’ Daniel Laatsch scored late in the second to make it a 3-2 game heading into the third. It was a back and forth period that saw the Badgers pull their goalie late. Trevor Janicke took advantage of the empty net, putting the Irish up 4-2 and sealing the series for the Irish.
The Irish will take on the Wolverines in Ann Arbor Saturday in a single-elimination game.