COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Against Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg, teams have found goals hard to come by. In fact, before the Colorado College Tigers scored late in the third period of Friday’s game, Lerg had an 87-minute shutout streak in NCAA tournament play, and had looked like an impenetrable wall for much of the weekend.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have struggled to score goals in the second half. Since losing to Ferris State 5-3 on February 8, the Irish have scored more than two goals in only two games coming into this weekend. In 10 of those 13 games, the Irish scored two or fewer goals, and in six of those games they scored one or less. The Irish went 4-6-3 in those games.
Playing a tight defensive game Saturday night against the Spartans, the Irish were tied 1-1 late in the second. With the Irish on the attack, a wild flurry resulted in a goal scored by Evan Rankin, and the Irish went into a crazed celebration on the ice. The referees called it a goal, and the goal was announced over the PA in Colorado Springs.
After a consultation, the play was sent upstairs for video review. After a long review, the NCAA video replay official ruled it as a no-goal. The official call was that Kevin Deeth had been in the crease, and his presence had prevented Lerg from playing the puck.
“That was a tough call but honestly we’ve had that happen a few times to us,” said Irish captain Mark Van Guilder, who scored the eventual game-winner in the third period. “We were real calm on the bench. We were sitting there just waiting for the call. Either way, we had to keep calm, whatever the decision is. You can’t let something like that kill your momentum because we were just starting to play a little better in the second period. I think we’ve learned a lot from this second half. We’ve learned how to deal with disappointment like that.”
In fact, the Irish also had an apparent goal against UNH disallowed late in the second period of Friday’s game. The puck appeared to hit the upper left corner and come out, but the replay official ruled that it had hit the post. The Irish made up for that call just 23 seconds into the third period.
Tonight, Van Guilder made sure that the no-goal would be a non-issue when he got a shot from low at the left side of the crease over Lerg’s right shoulder at 15:20. Teddy Ruth added to the lead at 17:12, ensuring the Irish advanced to their first-ever Frozen Four.
“I was upset because I thought Kevin Deeth was pushed into the crease,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. “It’s not the referee’s decision, it’s whoever makes the decision upstairs. They have the replay, I don’t. They had their reasoning and I’m not sure what it was, but I’ll probably watch it and probably agree with what the decision was. We had a few of those last week too.”
Given the results this weekend with having disallowed goals, perhaps the Irish might want to make sure they get a disallowed goal against their next opponent, CCHA foe Michigan, in the Frozen Four in Denver.