COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat Notre Dame, 3-2, in the second contest in a two-game set and the final regular-season meeting between the two teams.
Scott May had two goals, including the game-winner, R.J. Umberger had two helpers, and Dave Steckel netted his first of the season in a game that differed little from Friday night’s sloppy 4-4 tie, with the exception of some third-period intensity by OSU.
“Between the second and third,” said May, “I think it was just a realization that we had to come together and take it to them. In the third period of the last game, they took it to us a little bit, got a goal there, and tied it up.
“Coach Markell knew we were buzzing around, and told us not to get frustrated. Just because the pucks weren’t bouncing our way, they would bounce in sooner or later, and luckily they did at the end.”
The Bucks outshot the Irish, 12-6, in the final period, and play through most of the third period was limited to the Notre Dame end. Steckel’s goal at 8:01 tied the game for OSU, and May gave Ohio State the lead for good at 13:16.
Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin was positive after the game in spite of the loss.
“I feel good about my hockey team. I like the way we played. I thought we controlled the game down low,” he said.
“We didn’t catch a lot of breaks. We had a couple of good scoring opportunities and we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Notre Dame jumped out to a quick two-goal start, as sloppy defensive play continued for the second consecutive match between the Irish and the Buckeyes. Aaron Gill made it 1-0 at 7:39 in the first, scooping in Tom Galvin’s dormant rebound. After Betz stopped Galvin’s rocket from the right point, and the puck lay in the crease, still, behind the Buckeye goalie. Sprawled to the ice and sliding behind the net, Gill reached out with his stick and poked it home for Notre Dame’s 1-0 lead.
At 9:16, the Irish capitalized on a Buckeye defensive zone turnover to make it 2-1. Brad Wanchulak forced the puck away from the OSU defense along the right boards and sent a cross-crease pass — between the legs of Buckeye defender Pete Broccoli — to Dunlop whose shot beat Betz short side.
Less than a minute after the second Notre Dame tally, Scott May cut the Irish lead one on a delayed penalty call. With Betz out of the net, Ohio State had control of the puck in the Irish defensive zone for 20 second with an extra Buckeye on the ice. In spite of repeated shots at the net, no Notre Dame player managed to control the puck, which eventually squirted out behind the net on the right side, where R.J. Umberger picked it up and centered it again.
Miguel Lafleche took the initial shot, and the rebound again found its way to Umberger in the right circle. Umberger passed long across the slot to May, who tucked it in near the post behind Cey at 10:09.
It was 2-1 Notre Dame after one.
The second period remained scoreless, in spite of Mike Betz’s attempt to give a goal away late in the stanza. On the penalty kill, the Irish cleared the puck out of their own end. When the puck went into the right OSU corner, Betz came way out of his net to play the puck — and overskated it.
Ten feet from home and without a friend in sight, Betz rushed to back to the net as John Wroblewski came crashing in. Wroblewski had a completely open net, but came in closer for the sure shot. By the time Wroblewski decided to try to score, Betz had returned, forced Wroblewski to make a major-league move that would have beaten the Buckeye netminder, had not Wroblewski shot about 15 feet above the cage.
Poulin said that behind the play on the Wroblewski breakaway, there was a “brutal hit from behind” that was missed by the officials.
“Under the dictums of the law now, the linesman is supposed to call that play. The referee was shielded out from it.
“That was a blatant hit from behind that wasn’t called, and it was at a critical point in the game.”
The more-focused Buckeyes controlled the third period, peppering Cey with shots from all over the Irish zone. Steckel’s tying goal came from just outside the crease on the left, after Umberger dug the puck out of the right corner and centered a pass for Steckel. May picked up his own rebound on the game-winner, after Cey saved Bencharski’s initial shot.
“I thought we started out slow,” said Buckeye head coach John Markell, “but I thought we provided ourselves with enough opportunities to score goals. I think Mike Betz made some spectacular saves. They [the Irish] certainly had opportunities to either get us down or tie us.
“I thought both teams battled. It was a good collegiate hockey game.”
Betz made 22 saves in the contest, while Cey stopped 31 pucks as the Buckeyes outshot the Irish 34-24. Neither team had success on the few power-play opportunities in the contest, with OSU going 0-for-3 and Notre Dame 0-for-1.
With the win, the Buckeyes are now 1-0-1, while the Irish fall to 0-3- 1. Next up for Ohio State is a two-game road series with Bowling Green, Oct. 26-27. Next weekend, the Irish head east to play Boston College and Northeastern.