SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Domenic Maiani set up Ohio State goals by Rod Pelley, Bryce Anderson and Sean Collins to help lead the 12th-ranked Buckeyes to a 3-1 win and a weekend sweep of Notre Dame at the Joyce Center on Saturday night.
The goal-starved Irish – Notre Dame has scored just one goal in each of its last four games and just seven in the six games played in January – got their only score of the night on sophomore left wing Josh Sciba’s third period power-play goal that snapped Dave Caruso’s shutout bid at 11:27 of the final period.
The loss, the third in a row for Notre Dame drops the Irish to 5-13-5 overall and 3-11-4 in CCHA play. Ohio State remains in second place in the CCHA, as the Buckeyes are now 15-6-3 on the year and 12-3-1 in the conference.
Ohio State took the play to the Irish in the opening stanza, out shooting Notre Dame by a 13-5 margin. Only the play of goaltender Morgan Cey (27 saves) kept the score at 1-0 after the first period.
“Morgan (Cey) was outstanding in the first period for us,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin. “They could have been up by two or three goals, but he made some big saves. He’s been phenomenal since the Christmas break. He’s given up just eight goals in five starts and only has one win to show for it. It’s staggering, but he’s given us a chance to win every night.”
The lone goal that got by Cey came on the power play at 8:28. Maiani won the faceoff in the left wing circle back to Collins who moved it across to the right point to Pelley. Pelley’s shot found it’s way through a maze of players in front past Cey for his 13th goal of the season.
Cey kept the score at 1-0 until the 11:29 mark of the second period when Bryce Anderson made it 2-0 with his sixth goal of the season.
Maiani started the play along the left wing boards when he was able to keep an Irish clearing attempt in the offensive zone. He fed the puck into the left wing corner where Tom Fritsche controlled it and slid across the slot to Anderson who drilled a shot past Cey for the eventual game-winning goal. After two periods, Ohio State had a 23-11 edge in shots on goal.
In the third period, the Irish started generating some offense on Caruso. The hard work led to three consecutive Buckeye penalties with the Irish capitalizing on the middle one.
With Maiani serving a penalty for tripping at 10:55 of the third, defenseman Noah Babin took a shot from the center point that was deflected in front by Jason Paige. The deflection went right to Sciba on the right side of the goal and he was able to flip the puck under the cross bar for his sixth goal of the season. Babin’s assist gives him a career-high four-game point-scoring streak (1-3-4).
“The third period was definitely our best period of the weekend. We generated some pretty good scoring chances,” said Poulin following the game. “We got some confidence in the third when we scored the goal. You could feel it lift everyone on the bench. Hopefully it’s something that we can build on.”
The Irish were able to keep the pressure on and pulled Cey in favor of a sixth attacker. With a faceoff in the OSU end of the ice, Maiani controlled the faceoff and Collins fired it the length of the ice into the open net at 19:52 for his fifth goal of the season and the final score of 3-1. The three-assist night was the second of Maiani’s Ohio State career.
On the night, Ohio State out shot the Irish, 30-18. Caruso finished with 17 saves in the game. The Buckeyes were 1-for-6 on the power play while the Irish were 1-for-7.
Notre Dame continues its run of five games in nine nights when they travel to Green Bay, Wisc, for a single non-conference game versus Michigan Tech on Tuesday, Jan. 18. They then return home to play host to fifth-ranked Wisconsin next weekend, Jan. 21-22.
“It’s a quick turnaround, but we can take the confidence we built in the third period and just go out and play Tuesday night against Michigan Tech. It’s the first of three non-conference games and we can focus on us and what we need to do to get some offensive confidence going for the final 10 league games,” said Poulin.