SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Led by two goals from freshman defenseman Ian Cole, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish scored a 6-3 victory over the Ferris State Bulldogs on Saturday night to tie their CCHA playoff series at one game apiece.
It was Cole’s second of the night that put the Irish ahead for good late in the second period. Cole received a cross-ice pass from Erik Condra at the right faceoff dot and ripped a perfectly placed snap shot that sailed over Ferris State netminder Mitch O’Keefe’s glove and just under the crossbar.
“It was simple,” said Cole. “We had to win. I don’t know if we’ve felt that urgency before, but we had to get it done tonight, or we were done.”
In a total reversal from game one, the Irish came out flying. Playing with desperation, they controlled the play and ultimately came up with the only goal in a period marred by 13 minor penalties.
Freshman Calle Ridderwall got the Irish on the board just less than halfway through the period. With the teams skating four-on-four, Mark Van Guilder got his own rebound and passed to a wide open Ridderwall in the slot. Ridderwall made one deke around O’Keefe and flipped a backhand over O’Keefe’s glove to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
“They brought the best out of us,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. “It was a very chaotic game, but that was as hard as we have competed in quite a while.”
Notre Dame nearly took the lead just moments earlier on a power play when Condra found himself all alone in the slot. Condra deked O’Keefe to the ice, but his backhand shot hit the post and bounced right to O’Keefe.
The Irish had a chance to increase their lead early in the second period when they gained a five-on-three power play, but they could not capitalize. Ryan Thang and Condra both missed the net with slap shots, and O’Keefe went post-to-post to make a glove save on an Cole one-timer from the right faceoff dot.
A set of perfect passes gave the Irish a 2-0 lead at the 7:15 mark of the second period. After Pearce made a kick save on the defensive end, Erik Condra corralled the loose puck and raced through the neutral zone. Condra gained the zone and dropped the puck to Cole, who then found Kyle Lawson on the right side. Lawson one-touched the puck back to Cole in the slot, and Cole quickly fired a shot over the shoulder of O’Keefe for his fifth goal of the year.
Ferris State cut the Irish lead to 2-1 on a power play just over 11 minutes into the second period. Adam Miller and Mike Fillinger went into the offensive zone on a two-on-one, and Miller made a perfect pass to Fillinger, who beat Pearce for his ninth goal of the season.
The Bulldogs tied the score with another power-play goal only two minutes later. Scott Wietecha flipped a shot from the point that Corey Couturier batted out of the air and down into the net. The goal was reviewed to check for a high stick by Couturier, but it was upheld. Notre Dame doubled their lead to 4-2 with a power play goal early in the third.
Cole rushed the puck into the zone and found Thang in the high slot. Thang gave a backhand pass to Condra, who was skating down the right side, and Condra one-timed the puck over the glove of O’Keefe.
Ben Ryan scored his second goal in two nights to give the Irish a 5-2 lead just past the 13 minute mark of the third period. With the Irish on a power play, Brett Blatchford skated into the offensive zone and made a cross-ice pass to Ryan, who was skating toward the far post. Ryan tapped the puck in behind O’Keefe for his 10th goal of the season.
Ferris State scored their third power play goal with just over three minutes left to cut the lead to 5-3. Freshman defenseman Zach Redmond took a snap shot from the slot that beat Pearce to the blocker side. With O’Keefe off for an extra attacker, Kyle Lawson added an empty net goal for the Irish to make the score 6-3. The goal was Lawson’s fourth point on the night, which was a personal best for the sophomore blueliner.
Notre Dame and Ferris State finished the game with a combined 33 penalties for a total of 78 penalty minutes, and nearly every break in play resulted in pushing and shoving throughout the third period.
The two teams will play a decisive game three Sunday night at the Joyce Center, where the puck drops at 7:05 P.M. The winner will go on to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA semifinals next Friday, while the season is likely over for the loser.