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Men’s Hockey: No. 16 Ohio State can’t complete comeback against No. 10 Notre Dame

Ohio State defender Matt Miller fights with Notre Dame hockey players in the Notre Dame zone on Nov. 4. Credit: Courtesy of Ric Kruszynski

Two third-period goals in the final eight minutes weren’t enough, as No. 16 Ohio State (5-3-2, 1-3-0-0 Big Ten) fell short in a 3-2 defeat to No. 10 Notre Dame (7-3-0, 2-0-0-0 Big Ten).

Notre Dame went up 3-0 early in the third on two goals in 34 seconds. The first came from junior forward Dylan Malmquist off a nice feed by sophomore Andrew Peeke, then senior forward Jake Evans quickly added to the lead with a shot on a bad angle that trickled past redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo.

Romeo was replaced by freshman goalie Tommy Nappier after the Evans goal, saving only 15 of the 18 shots he faced.

Ohio State answered later in the period, igniting a power play that has struggled for much of the season. Junior forward Mason Jobst ripped it past sophomore goalie Cale Morris after numerous chances on the man advantage, with junior forward Dakota Joshua and sophomore defenseman Matt Miller earning assists on the play.

“It was important for us coming into today to get it set up in the zone,” Joshua said. “Yesterday, we had a hard time breaking it in and establish some pressure, but today we did that and the bounces go your ways sometimes and sometimes they don’t, and today we got a bounce.”

The Buckeyes then cut the Notre Dame lead to one on a goal by Joshua with less than two minutes to play. Joshua scored on a rebound attempt by batting the puck out of mid-air and finding twine past Morris in the top corner.

When asked about the goal, Joshua only had three words to say: “Nothing but luck.”

Ohio State played with an empty net for the final three-and-a-half minutes and dominated the offensive zone, battering Morris with shots for most of the ending moments. Morris made 22 of his 39 saves in the third period alone.

The Buckeyes had numerous chances in the final seconds, but the biggest came at the stick of Ohio State’s captain. Jobst found himself one-on-one with an open net with the final seconds ticking down as the puck trickled across the crease with Morris out of the play, but Jobst whiffed on the shot, and the Buckeyes suffered their second straight defeat to the Fighting Irish.

“Give us another couple of seconds, couple of minutes, we’ll see what happens,” Joshua said. “You wish you just had a little bit more time to see if you could make something happen, but that’s the game of hockey, and we just came up short tonight.”

The save of the night came from Romeo, before getting the hook. He made a remarkable save, sprawling out to shut down junior forward Jack Jenkins at point-blank range. However, the party for Romeo ended shortly thereafter on a goal by sophomore forward Cal Burke coming from the faceoff immediately following the big save.

The Burke goal gave the Fighting Irish a 1-0 lead late in the second period — a lead they held for the remainder of the game.

“I’m proud of the guys for the never quit,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “That’s the expectations, that’s the culture that these guys have created, we don’t want to be down by three, and if we play that way from start to finish, we’ll be a pretty good hockey team.”

Ohio State switches back to nonconference play for two away games next weekend against the University of Connecticut. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

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