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No. 20 Irish Hockey splits series at No. 12/13 Ohio State

Despite its scoring woes, the No. 20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team ground out a weekend split against the No. 12/13 Ohio State Buckeyes. After Ohio State won the Friday contest 5-2, the Irish bounced back with a 1-0 victory Saturday.

Ohio State wins Friday, 5-2

In Friday’s contest, Ohio State used three third-period goals to come away with a 5-2 win. 

After Ohio State got on the board four minutes into the game with a goal from Davis Burnside, the Irish were able to answer when senior forward Trevor Janicke found the back of the net on a one-timer with 44 seconds remaining in the first period. Graduate student defenseman Chase Blackmun set up the goal. 

The Irish then took the lead in the second period, as freshman forward Fin Williams scored from an unlikely angle near the goal line. It was the first career goal for the North Vancouver, BC, native, who dropped to a knee to celebrate.

Williams’ goal was a huge break for the Irish. The momentum continued to swing in Notre Dame’s direction minutes later when Ohio State’s Tyler Duke was whistled for slashing. With a chance to increase their lead to two on the power play, things were looking up for the Irish. 

The Buckeyes, though, had other plans. On the ensuing power play, Ohio State took a dagger to Notre Dame’s momentum. Not only did they have a successfully kill the penalty, but the Buckeyes added a shorthanded goal to boot. Defenseman Dominic Vidoli started the breakout himself, hopped up into the rush, and then finished off a beautiful give-and-go with Tate Singleton to tie the game at two.

In the third, Singleton would chip in with a goal of his own to put the Buckeyes up 3-2. Less than 90 seconds later, team scoring leader Jake Wise added a power-play insurance marker for Ohio State to make it 4-2. An empty net goal finished the night off in Columbus, with the home side coming out on top 5-2.

Irish find a way with 1-0 win Saturday

Back in the lineup after missing Friday’s game, graduate student forward Jack Adams scored 2 minutes and 33 seconds into the game Saturday night to provide the lone goal of the evening. Up 1-0 early, the Irish never looked back. Thanks to stellar defense and goaltending, they remain a perfect 4-0-0 when scoring the first goal.

Notre Dame received excellent goaltending from senior Ryan Bischel, who stopped all 37 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season. It was the fifth time this season Bischel has made 35 or more saves in a game. Bischel has started all 13 games for the Irish this year. And he may well have stolen his team a win on Saturday night.

That’s not to discredit the Irish skaters, who were also stout defensively in front of their goaltender. Notre Dame blocked 18 Buckeye shots, killed off three Ohio State power plays, and withstood a third-period barrage that saw Ohio State outshoot Notre Dame 19-3.

For Adams, the goal marked his first of the season. On his first shift of the game, Adams went straight to the front of the net as senior defenseman Nick Leivermann led the attack into the Ohio State defensive zone. The 6′ 6” Adams and a linemate, 6′ 4” freshman Niko Jovanovic, both set up shop outside the paint. Leivermann took a lap behind the Ohio State net and came out to the top of the far faceoff circle.

The offensively-minded Leivermann then smartly exposed the Ohio State defense with a cross-seam pass to his partner Blackmun. Blackmun hesitated before firing a shot to the front of the net. The rebound came loose, and Adams was able to use his large frame to grab the puck and sandwich it between the legs of Ohio State goaltender Jakub Dobes for the score.

Remarkably, Adams’ early goal proved to be the game-winner, his second career game-winning goal in a Notre Dame uniform.

Looking ahead

The weekend split keeps the Irish at .500 for the season, with a 6-6-2 overall record. In the Big Ten, Notre Dame is sixth with a 3-4-1 record in conference play.

Notre Dame will travel to Boston this Thanksgiving week to play against both the Boston University Terriers and Boston College Eagles. Wednesday, Notre Dame is playing at BU at 5 p.m. On Friday, they will travel to Chestnut Hill to play the Eagles at 4 p.m. Wednesday’s game will be available on ESPNU. Friday’s can be seen on ESPN+.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu.

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Irish hockey faces road test at Ohio State

With five of their six Big Ten league opponents ranked in NCAA hockey’s top 20, the #20 Notre Dame hockey team is no stranger to top-20 matchups. This weekend is no different, as the Irish travel to Columbus for a ranked battle with the #12/13 Ohio State Buckeyes. It is set to be an important series for both sides, as Ohio State tries to get back on track after being swept at Michigan State and Notre Dame looks to build off the momentum of last Saturday’s overtime win against Michigan.

Series History

 The Irish and Buckeyes have played 94 times since their first meeting in the 1968-69 season, and the series has been close throughout. Notre Dame holds the overall edge with a 42-41-11 record against Ohio State, although the Buckeyes lead the series on their home ice 21-19-7.

Last year, Ohio State took seven of 12 available points in the season series, with two regulation wins and an overtime loss. Despite that, Notre Dame narrowly edged Ohio State for the third seed — and first round home ice — in last year’s Big Ten tournament.

Among the ties between the teams is longtime Notre Dame associate head coach Paul Pooley. Pooley is a 1984 graduate of Ohio State and holds Buckeye hockey’s career records for goals (114), assists (156) and points (270). He also got his coaching start at Ohio State in 1988 and had his number retired by the program before a game between the Irish and Buckeyes in 2006. Pooley is now in his 18th season behind the Notre Dame bench. 

Scouting the Buckeyes

Ohio State was one of the final teams left out of last year’s NCAA tournament. With 22 players from that squad returning, the Buckeyes opened this season with motivation and a vengeance. One of the hottest teams in the nation at the time, they attracted eyes around the country with a 7-1-1 start. The best results from that streak were 0-0 tie at current #7/8 Connecticut and a 6-4 win against #2 Minnesota. The Buckeyes, though, have cooled off lately, and are losers of three straight. Coming out of an open weekend, Ohio State was swept by surging Michigan State in two close games last weekend.

As a veteran team, depth has been the key to Ohio State’s success this season, and it will continue to be. All 21 players with at least five games played so far have one point or more for the Buckeyes, and 15 have one goal or more.

The Buckeye depth is especially strong down the middle, with their top three centers leading the team in scoring. Graduate student Jake Wise, a 2018 draftee of the Chicago Blackhawks, leads all skaters with five goals and 12 points. Wise played three years at Boston University before transferring to Ohio State last year. Meanwhile, freshman Stephen Halliday (a 2022 4th round pick by Ottawa) and junior Travis Treloar are right behind Wise, with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Special teams have also been key for the Buckeyes, who are second in the nation on the penalty kill. Much of that has to do with consistent goaltending by sophomore Jakub Dobes, who has started all 12 games this year for Ohio State while posting a .911 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average. A native of the Czech Republic, Dobes played in 35 games last year as a freshman for the Buckeyes, finishing the year with an outstanding .931 save percentage. He is a 5th round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens from 2020.

Scouting the Irish

Notre Dame is coming off a momentum changing, 3-2 overtime win against rival Michigan last Saturday night. Previously, the Irish had lost 3 straight games, including a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Wolverines the night before. When, the next night, the Irish headed to the locker room after the first period trailing 2-0, there was little life in Compton Family Ice Arena. The feeling seemed to be that Notre Dame was on the precipice of getting swept for the second weekend in a row.

But the Irish had something to say about that. Grappling their way back into the game, Notre Dame tied the score late in the second period. After a stalemate third, junior forward Grant Silianoff scored the dramatic game winner 2:26 into overtime, and life burst anew for the Fighting Irish.

“I’m hoping we can build on what we did Saturday as opposed to taking a step back,” head coach Jeff Jackson said Wednesday. “I think a lot of it had to do with playing with better discipline, both within our system and not taking unnecessary penalties.”

Puck management was also key for Notre Dame in the win. In the second and third periods of the Saturday contest, the Irish made good decisions with the puck, controlling possession in the offensive zone and on zone entries. Puck management will continue to be important for the team going forward.

“For me, it’s about just doing a better job with the puck — both off the rush on our entries into the offensive zone, and then in the offensive zone. To me, those are the things that impact the game the most for us,” Jackson said.

As Notre Dame seeks to capitalize on the fresh momentum, they will be forced to find results on the road. Road games have been a challenge this year for the Irish, who are winless in five games away from Compton.

“We’ve always been a good road team, and yet we haven’t won a road game yet this year, and that gives me a little pause,” Jackson said.

The Irish will play their next four on the road. This weekend sees two games at Value City Arena against Ohio State before the Irish head east to Boston. Notre Dame will play the 6-3-0 Boston University Terriers at Agganis Arena Wednesday, then will go across town to take on the Boston College Eagles on Friday.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu

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No. 12 Irish swept by No. 3 Minnesota

The No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team fell twice on the road this weekend at No. 3 Minnesota, 4-1 and 3-0.

In game one on Friday night, the Golden Gophers shelled the Fighting Irish net with 54 total shots on goal. After a scoreless first, Minnesota got on the board in the second period with a goal from Mason Nevers, who was left unguarded in front of the net on a centering pass. Seven minutes later, the Golden Gophers struck shorthanded, as sophomore Matthew Knies scored on a breakaway. With Minnesota, up 2-0 after the second, freshman Jimmy Snuggerud scored twice for the home squad in the third to put the game out of reach. The Irish finally found twine on a goal from sophomore forward Justin Janicke with just 46 seconds left in the game. It was the only goal Notre Dame would score this weekend.

The shot column was closer on Saturday night in game two, but the result remained the same. Minnesota got an even-strength goal from senior Jaxon Nelson and a power-play goal from Knies in the second period to go up 2-0 after two again. Then in the third, freshman Logan Cooley finished things off with an empty netter.

The line of Knies, Cooley and Snuggerud was dominant this weekend for Minnesota. The three former first-round picks combined for 5 goals and 9 total points, accounting for 50% of the Gophers’ points output this weekend.

Senior goaltender Justen Close started both games for Minnesota. He kicked out 44 of 45 shots to bring his save percentage to .919 this season. Senior Ryan Bischel started both games for Notre Dame as well, with freshman Jack Williams playing 7 minutes of time in relief of Bischel to end Friday night’s game. The Irish net-minders combined to allow 6 goals on a whopping 74 shots against, good for a .918 team save percentage this weekend.

Minnesota and Notre Dame will meet again when the Gophers travel to South Bend in mid-January. In the meantime, Minnesota will remain home this weekend to take on high-flying Penn State, who is off to a 9-1-0 start. The Irish return to Compton Family Ice Arena to host rival Michigan. The puck drops Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu

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No. 12 Irish travel to No. 3 Gophers for Big Ten series

The No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s ice hockey team travels to Minneapolis this weekend to take on the No. 3 Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday and Saturday night. It is the second Big Ten Conference series of the season for both sides, and key points in the standings are up for grabs. 

Series History

Overall, Minnesota leads the series 35-24-5 over 64 games played. The Gophers also lead the series on their home ice 20-13-3. Of late, Minnesota has won seven of the last 10 games between the two teams. Last season they won three of four, including a late-October sweep in Minneapolis. Notre Dame did win the final meeting of the season, though, collecting a 3-2 win on Landon Slaggert’s overtime winner. 

What Notre Dame is trying to do this weekend — sweep Minnesota on the road — has proven to be incredibly challenging. The last time Notre Dame swept the Gophers on the road was during the COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 season. Prior to that, the Irish had not swept a series in Minneapolis since the 1971-72 season. 

Scouting the Gophers

This Minnesota team is — as usual — loaded with talent, and they’ve restocked again this year. With 14 NHL draft picks on the roster, there is no shortage of big names to watch this weekend.

The duo of freshmen Jimmy Snuggerud and Logan Cooley particularly stand out. After being held without a point in the first weekend series, Snuggerud scored a hat trick in his third career game for Minnesota and has been on a tear ever since. He currently leads the team in goals with six and is averaging just over a point per game. Snuggerud was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues back in June.

Cooley, 2022 third overall pick of the Arizona Coyotes, has centered Snuggerud’s line so far this year and is also among the team leaders in points with seven. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies and Montreal Canadiens draftee Rhett Pitlick are two more forwards to keep an eye on.

Despite the depth up front, Minnesota’s points leader so far this year is a defenseman, senior Jackson LaCombe. LaCombe is a true veteran standout, as he is a fourth-year senior and has led all Gophers defensemen in scoring each of the last two seasons. LaCombe, who the Anaheim Ducks drafted 39th overall back in 2019, has three goals and seven assists so far and is well on his way to matching his 30-point season last year.

In goal, senior Justen Close has carried the load. He has played in 7 of 8 games so far this season and has posted a 2.28 goals against average with a .900 save percentage. It’s a fair assumption that he will start both games this weekend.

Like most top-tier programs, Minnesota’s early season schedule has been a rather difficult one. After sweeping Lindenwood to start the season, the Gophers faced top-15 opponents on each of the last three weekends and will face off against their fourth straight top-15 team when the Irish come to town. Minnesota has earned a split in each of those last three series, playing against in-state rival No. 6/7 Minnesota State, historic rival No. 10/11 North Dakota and red-hot No. 9 Ohio State. They enter this weekend with a 5-3-0 overall record.

Scouting the Irish

The veteran Irish come into this weekend with a 4-2-2 record but have struggled to find consistency to start the season.

“I think we are a work in progress, frankly. I don’t think we are on all cylinders yet,” Head coach Jeff Jackson said this week, discussing his team’s start to the season.

Last weekend, Notre Dame opened conference play against Michigan State with a 5-0 win and looked dominant from puck drop to game’s end. The Irish got goals from 5 different scorers in that one, including one from junior Ryder Rolston, who leads the team in goals (4) and points (9). On the following night, though, the Irish offense that flowed so freely the night before was unable to break through. Notre Dame settled for a 1-1 tie. It was just another example that the Irish are still striving for consistency.  

“We still need to find that consistency in our game, because right now, from game to game, I’m not really sure what we’re going to see,” said Jackson.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Notre Dame will certainly rely on the efforts of senior goaltender Ryan Bischel. Bischel has put together a string of strong outings recently. The Minnesota native had a stout performance against Michigan State, during which he stopped 71 of 72 shots across the two-game slate. Bischel has started all of Notre Dame’s games so far, and all indications show that will more or less continue throughout the year. 

Notre Dame will also look to six native Minnesotans this weekend to pitch in while playing in their home state, including graduate student defenseman Ben Brinkman, who spent the previous four seasons playing for the Gophers. Brinkman played 140 games in his Minnesota career, registering 23 points. Brinkman did not play last weekend against Michigan State. 

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu.

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Irish hockey skates past Michigan State, 5-0

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team opened Big 10 conference play with a 5-0 win over the visiting Michigan State Spartans Friday night. The Irish were speedy and opportunistic all night, getting goals from five different scorers in the win.

Goaltender Ryan Bischel was again solid for Notre Dame, kicking out all 30 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. With the loss, Michigan State drops to 4-3-0 on the season, despite the best efforts of former Irish netminder and current Spartan graduate student goalie Dylan St. Cyr, who made 28 saves in his return to Compton Family Ice Arena.

In the first, Michigan State played well, steadily dictating the play and often attacking the Notre Dame blue line on the rush, though they were not able to generate many chances. Despite giving up 11 shots, the Irish held the Spartans to the perimeter and allowed very few high-quality opportunities between the face-off circles.

Despite not controlling play, Notre Dame was opportunistic on the chances it generated in the period. After killing off a penalty taken by senior captain Nick Leivermann, the Irish struck for their first goal of the night. Breaking out of their own end after the penalty-kill, junior forward Ryder Rolston found sophomore Justin Janicke breaking for the net on a three-on-two. Rolston threaded the needle with the pass perfectly across the seam, and with a quick tap of his stick, Janicke deposited the puck into the wide-open goal. It was Janicke’s second of the season, and gave Notre Dame the lead eight minutes into the contest. 

Later, as the end of the period loomed, Rolston found himself again making a break for the net on a three-on-two. With more speed down the right side of the ice, Rolston this time elected to shoot. With a brisk snapshot, Rolston beat his former teammate and freshman-year roommate St. Cyr’s high glove to give the Irish a 2-0 lead heading to the locker room.

Notre Dame got to work quickly in the second period, playing some of their best hockey of the game to start the frame. Capitalizing off a Michigan State turnover, the Irish applied pressure until senior captain Nick Leivermann found the back of the net with a snapshot from the perimeter of the face-off circle. Hunter Strand garnered an assist for his tremendous vision to see Leivermann pinching in from the point, as he zipped a diagonal pass across the slot to set up the goal. Chase Blakmun also added an assist, and Notre Dame led 3-0.

The Irish continued to pressure after the Leivermann goal, keeping St. Cyr busy with shots from any and all angles. As Michigan State weathered the storm, they caught a break when, at a stoppage midway through the period, the referees decided to review a hit laid by Notre Dame’s Drew Bavaro. Upon review, they determined Bavaro made illegal head contact with a Spartan player and assessed him a five-minute major penalty. 

With an opportunity to get back in the game, Michigan State was slow getting set up on the power-play, and by the time they did, it was close to expiring. Nonetheless, Michigan State senior forward Jagger Joshua and freshman forward Daniel Russell both got chances in a netmouth scrabble. This was Michigan State’s most threatening moment on offense, but in the end, the Irish managed to kill the penalty and the period ended with Notre Dame still in the lead 3-0.

The Irish added icing to the cake in the third, as they potted two more goals, one from graduate student forward Chayse Primeau and another from Strand. Primeau’s goal came in transition on yet another odd-man rush, while Strand finished off a nice feed from sophomore defenseman Ryan Helliwell on the power-play.

In the stat column, Rolston and Primeau paced the Irish, each picking up three points. Playing on the same line, the two players seemed to be clicking all night and showed great chemistry with and without the puck

“It was evident tonight, and this week in practice we got a feel for it, too,” Rolston said. “We were excited to play together tonight, and good things happened.”

It was the second straight shutout on home ice for Bischel, who continues to find his rhythm between the pipes for the Irish. Bischel now has shutouts in two of his last three games, and has started in every game so far this season.

In his return to Compton Family Ice Arena, St. Cyr played well in the net for Michigan State, despite the five goals Notre Dame scored. On at least two of the goals, St. Cyr had no chance of making a save due to Notre Dame’s quick puck movement in transition. In addition, Spartan freshman phenomenons Karsen Dowart (6 points this season) and Daniel Russell (team-leading 9 points this season) both showed flashes of brilliance in this game, but ultimately were unable to break through.

The Spartans and Irish will wrap up the two-game weekend series tomorrow night. The puck drops at 6 p.m.

Coach’s comments

Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson made some line changes this week after getting shut out 4-0 last Saturday at Western Michigan. In particular, senior Solag Bakich moved up to form a line with Primeau and Rolston, while senior Jesse Lansdell moved onto a line with Strand and graduate student Jack Adams. All this in an effort to generate more consistent offense

“Part of the reason we made the change is that we hadn’t been scoring 5-on-5 very consistently, and needed to see if we could come up with something different that might help us” Jackson said.

Notre Dame continues to refine their game to achieve an elite level of play consistently. The lineup changes had to due with finding more consistent 5-on-5 offense, but consistency is the standard for success in NCAA hockey, and the Irish continue to strive for it.

Friday notes from out-of-town

@ No. 14 Harvard 5, Dartmouth 2. Dartmouth took a 2-0 first period lead in this one, but Harvard scored 5 consecutive goals after the first intermission. Los Angeles Kings prospect Alex Laferriere had two of them.

@ Maine 2, No. 15 Northeastern 2 (Maine wins shootout). The Black Bears under second-year head coach Ben Barr are proving to have tough luck at home. They beat Quinnipiac 4-0 last week in the first game of a weekend set, and came back from 2-0 down in the third in this one.

@ No. 18 UMass Lowell 2, No. 9 Boston University 1. These two figure to be around the top of a very strong-looking Hockey East conference by the end of the year. All the scoring happened in the second period of this game, with the Riverhawk goals coming from Ben Meehan and Matt Crasa for the win. Domenick Fensore scored for BU.

No. 3 Denver 4 @ Miami 0. Carter Mazur had a natural hat trick in the third period for Denver as the Pioneers tamed Miami and red-hot goaltender Ludvig Persson on the road.

@ No. 11 Ohio State 6, No. 1 Minnesota 0. The Buckeyes are 7-1-1 to start the season, and if they hadn’t caught your attention yet, they certainly will have now. At one point, OSU led 6-2, and had to stave off a late Minnesota attack.

Other notable scores: No. 16 Penn State 2 @ Wisconsin 1; @ No. 4 Michigan 5, No. 17 Western Michigan 4; @ No. 19 Minnesota Duluth 3, No. 20 Cornell 2; @ Bemidiji State 3, No. 2 St. Cloud State 1; Alaska Fairbanks 2 @ Northern Michigan 1.

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Gabe Perreault scores twice as NTDP tops Notre Dame men’s hockey team

The No. 8/9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s ice hockey team dropped its lone preseason scrimmage to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) under-18 team by a 5-3 score Sunday night. In a high-paced, back-and-forth contest, the NTDP capitalized twice on five power play opportunities to earn an edge against the Irish. 

Coming off of a 4-3 win on the road at Michigan State on Saturday night, the NTDP squad found themselves on their heels early. Less than a minute into the opening frame, Irish senior forward Trevor Janicke began an offensive cycle in the right corner, circling and leaving the puck for new teammate Jackson Pierson, a graduate student transfer from the University of New Hampshire. Pierson then circled in the corner himself and zipped a pass back to the right point for sophomore defenseman and Edina, Minnesota, native Jake Boltmann. Boltmann expertly walked the blue line and fired a shot off of the stars-and-stripes decorated pads of NTDP goaltender Carsen Mussen. The rebound came off the right pad quickly and right onto the stick of junior Ryder Rolston, who snapped the puck just between the right arm of the goalie and the post to give the Irish an early 1-0 lead. 

Notre Dame’s lead, though, was short-lived. After Irish defenseman Charlie Blackmun was given a 5-major penalty for a hit from behind, Notre Dame was forced to their first of 5 penalty kills this evening. In what would be a theme of the game for Notre Dame, the Irish penalty kill was stout until the very final moments of Blackmun’s penalty but could not finish the kill. As the penalty was winding down, the NTDP’s Alex Weiermair made an errant zone entry pass that teammate Oliver Moore picked up off the half wall. The Minnesota-committed Moore swooped in behind the goal and made a centering pass that was tipped onto the stick of Austin Burnevik in the slot, who snapped it past Irish senior goaltender Ryan Bischel to tie the game.

The first-period scoring was not done yet, though. Both teams traded line rushes until Notre Dame struck gold on one of theirs. In a beautiful sequence, graduate student captain Nick Leivermann picked up the puck on his own blue line and spearheaded the attack. Backing up the NTDP defense, he hit the offensive blue line and dished to sophomore forward Tyler Carpenter on the left flank, who rifled the puck again between the post and the right arm of Mussen to put Notre Dame up 2-1.

 But with Leivermann in the box for an unwise and unnecessary interference penalty, NTDP was able to turn the tide late in the first. Just after the penalty to Leivermann expired, Boston College commit Ryan Leonard rushed the puck in behind the Notre Dame net. He absorbed a hard hit that sent him sailing into the corner boards, but was nonetheless able to find Gabe Perreault with a pass. Perreault rounded the cage and tucked a wraparound inside the right post, sneaking it just barely past the outstretched pad of Bischel. With thirty seconds remaining in the first, the NTDP had tied the game again.

The score remained tied after two periods as well, with each team adding goals in the second. Once more, it was Notre Dame skating well to start the period. Early on in the frame, the NTDP turned the puck over in the Irish zone, and Notre Dame’s Hunter Strand and Jack Adams found themselves on a two-on-one from their own blue line. Strand carried the puck on the left, fed a flat pass to Adams on the right, who attempted the one-timer, but fanned on the puck. 

That was not the end of the story, however, for Adams. As Notre Dame continued to carry the play, Adams found himself in another two-on-one, this time with sophomore Justin Janicke carrying the puck on his left. Adams, a 6’6 graduate student forward from Boxford, Massachusetts, did not miss the mark on his second opportunity. He took the crisp pass from Janicke on his forehand, switched to his backhand, cut to the far post and shoveled the puck past the outstretched leg of Mussen to score. 

With Notre Dame in the lead 3-2, the NTDP would again level the game late in the period. After a Notre Dame powerplay during which the Irish could not manage a shot, and struggled at times to gain the offensive blue line, the NTDP’s Leonard helped set up fellow BC commit Will Vote to level the score. Leonard had just stepped out of the penalty box when he made a pass to the onrushing Oliver Moore, who left a drop pass at the left face-off circle for Vote. Vote snapped a shot that seemed to allude Bischel, beating him five-hole to bring the score to 3-3.

Then early in the third, the NTDP struck with the decisive game-winner. Once more, it was Perreault who scored for the NTDP, and once more the goal came on the power play. With junior defender Zach Plucinski in the box for indirect contact to the head of an NTDP player, another Boston College commit, Will Smith, stepped in across the Notre Dame blue line on the right side of the zone. Smith fired a laser-beam cross-ice pass to Perreault at the face-off circle, who beat Bischel high and to the glove side with an impressive snapshot. Perreault’s second goal gave the NTDP their first and only lead of the hockey game, in the game’s 41st minute. 

That lead was all the NTDP would need to beat Notre Dame on this night at Compton Family Ice Arena. There were times afterwards when it seemed like the Irish were going to throw everything and the kitchen sink at NTDP goaltender Carsen Mussen in order to tie the game. Indeed, the Irish attempted thirty shots in the third period. Twelve of those made it to goal, but most were blocked by NTDP skaters. The NTDP defense stood strong late in the game and did well to keep the Irish on the peripheries of their zone, away from rebounds and loose pucks in front of the net. 

Ryan Leonard, who played well for the NTDP and had already garnered two assists for his efforts, sealed the win for his team by scoring an empty net goal with just one second remaining in the game. When the final siren sounded at Compton, the scoreboard showed 5-3 in favor of the visitors. 

Notre Dame netminder Ryan Bischel, who had a strong .916 save percentage in 16  games played last year for the Irish, finished tonight with 26 saves on 30 shots. On the other end of the sheet, uncommitted goalie Carsen Mussen made 25 saves. The game’s leader in the stat column was certainly Gabriel Perreault, who displayed a good finish on his second goal and also led his team in shots on net. Perreault, whose father is former NHL veteran Yanic Perreault, is also uncommitted. 

The win continues the NTDP’s strong start to their season, as they are 6-0. The team will continue with their Kroger College Series at home next weekend as they host #20 Michigan Tech on Friday and Lake Superior State on Saturday. Notre Dame, meanwhile, heads to Colorado next weekend to get their regular season officially underway at the IceBreaker tournament. The Irish take on the defending national champion and #1/1 Denver Pioneers in the opener on Friday at 9pm EST. 

Future Prospects

On a USNTDP team littered with prospects, three Irish commits laced up the skates tonight for the national team. Carter Slaggert, son of Notre Dame assistant coach Andy Slaggert and brother to current Irish forward Graham and former Irish forward Landon, roused a nice ovation from the crowd tonight when he was introduced with the NTDP starting lineup. Meanwhile, Maple Grove, Minnesota, native Danny Nelson centered the second line with Minnesota commit Oliver Moore and St. Cloud State commit Austin Burnevik. Nelson is one of the tallest and heaviest skaters on the NTDP roster, weighing in at 6’3, 203lb. River Forest, Illinois, native Paul Fischer, a third Notre Dame pledge, blocked two shots while playing top pair minutes on defense for the NTDP.

Discipline the Key

Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson was quick to point out in his post-game press conference that Notre Dame struggled tonight to stay out of the penalty box. On a night where the Irish were penalized 5 times, Jackson noted that the Irish are “not going to win games taking that many penalties.” Twice NTDP victimized the Notre Dame penalty kill, and they scored shortly after another powerplay ended. 

Denver Looms

The Irish begin their regular season Friday with not just any game, but a game against the defending national champions. Denver scrimmaged against the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) club hockey team on Saturday night and won big, 10-0. The Pioneers got goals from seven different scorers and a hat trick from sophomore Carter King. Although Denver will be without seven players who signed professional hockey contracts at the end of last season, they return 237 points, good for 5th in the nation in that department. The Pioneers will also be bolstered by Harvard transfer Casey Dornbach and Minnesota transfer Tristan Broz. 

When asked about the impending contest immediately after Sunday night’s game, coach Jackson said that he will be looking for his team to have better puck management, especially near the offensive blue line.

“When we started playing down lower in the offensive zone, we had a lot more success, and for me, that’s going to be the biggest key against Denver is that we do a good job managing the puck, and not put ourselves in positions where we are giving up transition opportunities,” he said.

The puck drops on the game and the 2022-23 regular season Friday at 9 p.m. EST. Notre Dame will then take on Air Force in the second half of the IceBreaker tournament on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu

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College Hockey Observer: Out of town scoreboard

Bowling Green, Northern Michigan split CCHA slate

In one of the few conference series this opening weekend, Bowling Green took the Saturday 6-4 game and Northern Michigan countered with a 4-3 OT win on Sunday. AJ Vanderbeck, selected to the preseason All-CCHA team, scored the OT winner Sunday for the Wildcats. These two are expected to jockey all season long in the top half of the CCHA standings.

Alaska-Anchorage upsets No. 14 Western Michigan

This was probably the feel-good story of the weekend. Alaska-Anchorage had its program eliminated by the university at the end of the 2020 season, but strong support from boosters and the community brought the program back. Playing in their first regulation NCAA game since March 7th, 2020 (a span of 938 days), the Seawolves pulled a huge upset, beating No. 14 Western Michigan at home by a 3-1 score.

Just a week prior, the Seawolves had lost an exhibition match 1-0 to British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University while looking entirely devoid of offense. But on Saturday, against a much better Western Michigan side, that was not the case. UAA got goals from Connor Marritt and Maximillion Helgeson in the win. After the game, Seawolf Matt Shasby head coach dedicated the win to those who breathed new life into the team: “The win tonight was for all the people who helped bring the program back. This represents what kind of team we are.”

Western Michigan came back strong on Sunday night with a 4-1 win to earn the weekend split. 

No. 2 Minnesota sweeps Division One’s newest program

Despite losing both games, it wasn’t an all-around bad weekend for college hockey’s newest team, the Lindenwood University Lions out of Saint Charles, Missouri. Lindenwood kept pace with Big Ten Power and No. 2 Minnesota, falling 3-0 and 6-4. Kyle Jeffers, a Florida native, will have his name go down in the history books as he scored Lindenwood’s first division one goal at 15:07 of the first period on Sunday night. The road does not get any easier for Lindenwood, as the Lions take on No. 6 Michigan at Yost next weekend.

No. 16/18 Ohio State sweeps Mercyhurst on the road

The No. 16 Buckeyes looked all-around solid in their weekend series at Atlantic Hockey’s No. 18 Mercyhurst last weekend. Ohio State picked up a 4-2 win on Saturday and a 4-1 win on Sunday. OSU kicks off Big Ten play against Wisconsin next weekend.

Connecticut sweeps Vermont

Connecticut also picked up a weekend sweep on the road, winning at Vermont 4-1 and 3-1. The Huskies enjoyed a breakout year last season in which they made it to overtime of the Hockey East semifinals and just narrowly missed out on an NCAA tournament bid. We could have a strong indication of whether they are here to stay next weekend when they challenge Hockey East preseason favorite Northeastern.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu