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Men’s Hockey: No. 1 Notre Dame clinches Big Ten title in series split with No. 6 Ohio State

Red Shirt junior goalie Sean Romeo (30) dives for a save in the shutout against Michigan tonight Jan. 26, 2018 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, OH. Credit: Ethan Clewell | For The Lantern

The No. 6 Ohio State men’s hockey team (19-7-4, 12-7-1-0 Big Ten) split a weekend road series against No. 1 Notre Dame (22-6-2, 16-3-1-1 Big Ten) to avoid a season sweep. The Buckeyes lost 2-1 Friday night, then bounced back for a 5-1 win Saturday.

Game One

Notre Dame sophomore goaltender Cale Morris made 31 saves on 32 shots in a 2-1 win against Ohio State Friday to capture the Irish’s first regular-season Big Ten title.

Special teams kept the Buckeyes in the game, getting their only goal on the power play, putting them 1-for-4 on the night. The Buckeyes top-ranked penalty kill went an impressive 6-for-6 on the night, including killing two 5-on-3 Irish power plays.

Notre Dame scored the first goal midway through the first period with a cross-crease pass from junior forward Dylan Malmquist to the junior forward Andrew Oglevie that beat redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo to the far side of the net for his twelfth goal of the season.

Ohio State answered back at 6:52 of the second period on the power play with a goal by senior forward Kevin Miller between the legs of Morris. Junior forward John Wiitala and sophomore defenseman Gordi Myer had the assists.

Just three minutes later, Ohio State couldn’t get the puck out of its zone. The puck eventually found Notre Dame senior defenseman Jordan Gross in the slot. Gross fired a quick shot past Romeo low to the stick side to give the Irish the lead and the eventual game-winning goal.

The Buckeyes pulled the goaltender with just over two minutes to go in the third period with an attempt to tie the game, but Morris stood tall preserving the Big Ten title for the Irish.

Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik made a lineup change to take junior forward Dakota Joshua out, replacing him with sophomore forward Sam McCormick. Joshua had six points in his past five games. It was a coach’s decision, according to the NBCSN broadcast.

Shots favored the Buckeyes over the Irish 32-29.

Ohio State senior forward Matthew Weis failed to register a point in the contest, snapping his 12-game point streak.

Romeo made 27 saves in the losing effort for the Buckeyes.

Game Two

The second game of the weekend series was a different story, with the Buckeyes scoring five goals and chasing one of the best goaltenders in the nation from his net in a 5-1 win.

After strong puck movement in the Irish zone, the Buckeyes opened the scoring when Weis tipped in a shot from the point off the stick of sophomore defenseman Matt Miller past Morris at 9:49 of the first period.

On a delayed penalty, Ohio State redshirt senior defenseman Matt Joyaux wired a slapshot from the blueline through a maze of players and into the net for his first goal of the season.

Notre Dame answered late in the second period with a rare power-play goal given up by Ohio State off the stick of Oglevie, his second goal of the weekend series to get on the board and cut the Buckeye lead in half.

Notre Dame had 23 shots in the second period, pushing its shot lead to 33-25 heading into the third period.

The Buckeyes put the game away in the third period with a couple of quick strike goals by Kevin Miller and McCormick 57 seconds apart to push the lead to three goals, ending Morris’ night.

Ohio State added an empty net goal to put to the final score to 5-1.

Weis’ first period goal gave him 10 goals on the year joining four other Buckeyes in double digit goals; Junior forward Freddy Gerard (10), Joshua (11), sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski (12) and junior forward Mason Jobst (12).

Romeo recorded a career-high 39 saves, including 22 in the second period.

Morris made 27 saves in the loss, while Notre Dame freshman goaltender Dylan St. Cyr made six saves in relief of Morris.

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