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+.

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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.

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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.

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