A comeback effort fell short for No. 16 Ohio State (5-2-2, 1-2-0-0 in Big Ten), as the Buckeyes fell 4-1 to No. 10 Notre Dame (5-3-1, 1-0-0-0 in Big Ten) in the Fighting Irish’s first conference game as a Big Ten school.
The Fighting Irish dominated the scoreboard, netting three in the final frame to bury any chances of a comeback for Ohio State.
Sophomore goalie Cale Morris stood tall for Notre Dame, making 23 saves. Redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo stopped 14 shots for the Buckeyes.
“At the end of the day you have to score more than one goal to win most times,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We had some chances, but again we have to clean some things up.”
Six minutes into the first period, Notre Dame senior defenseman Justin Wade hit senior forward Matthew Weis with a cheap shot in the back. Wade’s hit earned him a game misconduct, which caused an ejection, and gave the Buckeyes a five-minute power play. But Ohio State was unable to convert on the man advantage opportunity.
“That was pretty disappointing,” junior forward Mason Jobst said. “We just have to get it set up in the zone, they did a pretty good job at not even letting us get set up … we’ll bounce back tomorrow and get them.”
The Fighting Irish did not take long to break the scoreless tie in period two, as sophomore forward Cal Burke found a sliver of space between the post and Romeo, and that was all it took to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. Senior defenseman Jordan Gross and freshman defenseman Matt Hellickson earned the assists on the play.
The third period started with a frenzy of Ohio State chances. Sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski hit senior forward Kevin Miller on a two-on-one in the first minute, but Morris made the tough save. A few minutes later, both senior forward Luke Stork and Jobst missed on a near-open net as Morris was down, and still Notre Dame remained ahead a goal.
Notre Dame doubled its lead shortly after these chances on a goal by junior forward Dylan Malmquist in front of Romeo. Ohio State didn’t take long to answer this time, as senior defenseman Janik Moser ripped a one-timer from the point off a faceoff win by Jobst to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 12 minutes left in the game.
The Buckeyes never capitalized on the momentum, as Notre Dame scored two insurance goals late in the game to hand Ohio State its first loss in seven games. The first came from sophomore forward Cam Morrison, who hit in a rebound over Romeo off a shot by sophomore defenseman Andrew Peeke.
“We had a few breakdowns and that can’t happen,” junior defenseman Sasha Larocque said. “Overall we did play a pretty solid game, we were ready for them, we just can’t be breaking down like we did.”
Notre Dame finished the game off with an empty netter by freshman forward Colin Theisen to take a commanding 4-1 lead with 34.7 seconds left in the game.
“For the most part defensively we played a pretty good hockey game against a good quality team like that, but when we did break down, you can’t break down like we did for a couple of those goals,” Rohlik said.
Ohio State and Notre Dame face off again at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.