DETROIT — Scoring three power-play goals against the nation’s third-best penalty kill, the Ohio State Buckeyes battled back from behind three times to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 6-5, in overtime to advance to Friday’s late CCHA semifinal game against intrastate rival Miami.
“It was a pretty good college hockey game from a spectator’s standpoint, I imagine,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin. “From a coach’s standpoint, our strength all year has been defense and penalty killing, and to give up six goals, three on the power play, is disappointing.”
Freshman forward Tyson Strachan had the game-winning goal at 9:49 in overtime, a blast from the right point that found its way past ND netminder David Brown clean and long. The goal came seconds after Scott May won a faceoff for OSU in the left circle in Notre Dame’s zone and passed back to Andrew Schembri, whom May had motioned for position just before the drop of the puck. Schembri touched up to Doug Andress, who in turn fed Strachan.
“It took a lucky bounce out to the point,” said Strachan. “I grabbed it and saw a lane, and fired at the net.”
From start to finish, the game was like a freight train, fully loaded, streaking down greased tracks. You knew there’d be a wreck at the end, but you didn’t know who’d emerge from the debris.
Notre Dame captain Aaron Gill recorded a hat trick and added an assist; his teammate, Rob Globke, had a goal and three assists.
OSU’s Matt Beaudoin had two goals and two helpers. Buckeye defenseman Doug Andress had three assists, and Dave Steckel and Strachan each had a goal and an assist. In all, a total of 13 players recorded points in the game.
OSU was 3-for-5 on the power play. The Buckeyes registered 49 shots on net to the Irish’s 34, but OSU attempted 107 shots total to Notre Dame’s 68.
After giving up five goals through 30:42 of play, Buckeye starter Mike Betz was replaced by Dave Caruso, who stopped 15 in 39:07 for the win.
At the other end of the rink, David Brown made 43 saves in a loss.
What the game came to, ultimately, was Ohio State’s unwillingness to lose; the Buckeyes simply never stopped coming.
“On Monday, they were jumping,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “You could see the hunger in their eyes. Tuesday and Wednesday, they had great practices. They were keen. You could see that it’s hard to put teams away at the end of the year, and it was going to be hard to put us away because they’ve been fighting all year.”
The Irish did their best to put away the Buckeyes early, taking a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. Globke scored first, stealing the puck from a Buckeye defender and surprising Betz at 5:32.
Gill was credited with the second goal, a rebound that ricocheted in off of an OSU player at 6:56. Betz made a solid save on Gill’s shot from the right circle, but the rebound hit a defender immediately and volleyed back into the net for Notre Dame’s second unassisted goal of the game.
Just when it looked as though the Irish might run away with it — as though everything might go Notre Dame’s way — Rod Pelley capitalized on OSU’s first power play at 13:59 in the first to make it 2-1.
Then Dave Steckel scored on the Buckeyes’ second man-advantage at 17:30 to knot the game. Both goals were from directly in front of the crease, rebound shots.
OSU didn’t have time to take advantage of the momentum shift — you could feel it — as Lee Spector landed in the penalty box for interference 30 seconds after Steckel’s goal, giving Gill the chance to score on the Irish power play at 18:40.
It was 3-2 Notre Dame. After one.
Scott May scored 16 seconds into the second period and tied the game, but Gill answered at 4:43, making good an OSU turnover directly in front of Betz to give the Irish another lead. Mike Walsh’s goal on a rebound of Gill’s original shot at 10:14 gave Notre Dame another two-goal lead.
So, of course, the Buckeyes had to score again, their third power-play goal of the night, Beaudoin’s first marker, at 16:28.
“We didn’t do a good job of collapsing our top men, and they got all three [power-play] goals from three or four feet in front of the net,” said Poulin. “We talked about that after the first two, and the third one was virtually a mirror image of the first two.
“We know they thrive on shots from the point, scoring chances from up high. All three of them were on second- or third-chance opportunities, which we’ve done an excellent job of clearing this year.”
Caruso replaced Betz after Notre Dame’s fifth goal, and from that point on, the Buckeyes threw everything they had at the Irish, while Notre Dame was unable to return the favor. Trailing by a goal in the third, OSU fired from everywhere; Andress had eight shots alone in the stanza.
The strategy finally paid off at 17:34 when Beaudoin’s second goal tied the game 5-5.
Both teams had their chances in OT, but it was Ohio State that survived.
“Notre Dame and we were one point apart for the season,” said Markell. “We talked about it on Wednesday that we were evenly matched, and tonight both teams were taking care of their opportunities. Their big line came to play really, really well, and I thought our kids persevered through a lot and didn’t get down when we were down two goals twice, and kept chipping away.”
Globke said that it was OSU’s style against a defensive Notre Dame team that made the difference in the end. “I think a lot of that is just the way they played. They really forced us to have to go both ends of the ice, which we usually don’t like to do.”
Friday, Ohio State (24-15-0) faces Miami, a familiar opponent for the Buckeyes. OSU’s 5-4 win over clustermate Miami in the final game of the regular season prevented the RedHawks from capturing the regular-season title.
“This is the sixth time we’ve played them. We know each other pretty well,” said Markell. “I think it’s going to be left on the ice. The teams are evenly matched. Yeah, we played tonight and they didn’t, but hopefully we can have the energy and come back in less than 24 hours, our emotions carrying us through.
“I fully expect them to be there. They remember that we left them with a sour taste in their mouth.”
The Irish (20-14-4) will be practicing on Saturday, said Poulin, in preparation for the NCAA tournament; Notre Dame was a bubble team coming into the game, and won’t know until the weekend is over whether or not they’ll get a berth.