SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The 12th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes got a goal and an assist from Tom Fritsche and Matt Beaudoin while Andrew Schembri added three assists on the way to a 4-1 win over Notre Dame at the Joyce Center on Friday night.
The Buckeyes scored three times on the power play while the Irish offensive struggles continued, as they were limited to a five-on-three power-play goal by defenseman Wes O’Neill in the opening period.
The loss extends Ohio State’s mastery over the Irish, as the Buckeyes own a 9-1-3 mark in the last 13 meetings between the two teams dating back to the 2000-01 season. For the year, Ohio State improves to 14-6-3 overall and 11-3-1 in the CCHA. Notre Dame falls to 5-12-5 on the year and 3-10-4 in league play.
“I thought we got off to a good start with the power-play goal in the first period,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin. “Then it became a microcosm of our season. We have to score a power-play goal when the game is tied 1-1. We didn’t and then we start pressing, taking some penalties and that came back to cost us.”
Notre Dame actually jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the game via the power play at 15:52. With Lee Spector and Nate Guenin in the penalty box, the Irish broke a 0-for-21 power-play slump when O’Neill fired a wrist shot from the high slot that found its way past Buckeye goaltender Dave Caruso. The goal was the team-leading sixth of the season for the sophomore defenseman.
Ohio State evened the score at 19:16 of the opening stanza with its first power-play goal of the night. Freshman left wing Tom Fritsche took a feed along the right wing boards and stickhandled toward the Irish goal. His wrist shot from the bottom of the right wing circle slid between David Brown’s pad and the right post for Fritsche’s fourth goal of the season. Schembri picked up his first assist of the night on the goal.
The Buckeyes went ahead to stay at 10:22 of the second period. Defenseman Nate Guenin scored on a long shot from the left point for his second goal of the season. The goal came off an Ohio State rush that appeared to be offside.
The Irish came out strong to open the third period and had several chances before Ohio State put the game away with a pair of late power-play goals.
Bryce Anderson scored from the slot in front at 16:19 off some nifty passing by Fritsche and Shembri for his fifth goal of the season and Beaudoin closed the scoring at 18:24 as Schembri broke up an Irish pass and the loose puck came to Beaudoin alone in front. He beat Brown for his ninth goal of the season at the final one in the 4-1 win.
“Notre Dame really came at us to start the third period. They came real hard,” said Ohio State coach John Markell.
“That’s what we expect of them. They come to play. We were able to take advantage of our specialty team chances and that was the difference in the game.”
For the game, Ohio State out shot Notre Dame by a 26-19 margin. Caruso made 18 saves in the game while Brown, making his first start since December 11 vs. Michigan State made 22 saves.
Ohio State converted on three of six power-play chances while the Irish were just one-for-six. Notre Dame has scored just six goals in five games during the month of January and has 36 in 22 games on the year.
“All I can tell them is to keep battling,” said Poulin. “The frustration builds on itself. Our guys are really struggling with their belief that they can score. One way to answer is to score some goals. It’s going to happen and believe me it can’t come soon enough for this team and for this coach.”
The two teams will close out the regular-season series on Saturday at the Joyce Center. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m.