GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Notre Dame came from behind to tie North Dakota late in the third period, then withstood two Fighting Sioux power plays in overtime to earn a hard-fought 2-2 tie at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Playing just their third home series of the season, a sweep on home ice continues to elude the Sioux.
“We’re not walking out of here with smiles tonight because of the tie,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol. “But at the same time, we’ll take it for what it is. It’s a good series win against a good hockey team.”
After losing to UND 6-3 Friday, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson was far more pleased with his team’s effort.
“I thought our kids competed hard,” he said.
Two sophomore goalies, Aaron Dell for UND and Mike Johnson for Notre Dame, made big saves throughout the game to keep it close.
“He (Johnson) really stepped up today,” said UND forward Matt Frattin. “Today, he really stood on his head and kept them in the game, just like Dell did for us. It was a good defensive game today that ended up in a tie.”
Jackson also said that playing in front of 11,742 fans was a good learning experience for a young Fighting Irish team.
“It’s a great building; it’s a great crowd,” he said. “It makes it makes it very challenging to play. It’s as intimidating a place as I’ve ever coached in.”
UND, which entered the series ranked ninth in the USCHO poll, moves to 9-5-2 overall (7-3-0 WCHA). The No. 11 Fighting Irish are 9-4-2 overall (7-2-1 CCHA).
UND came out strong in the second period, often times keeping Notre Dame pinned in its own end for long stretches, but Johnson came up with big saves, including a stop on Derek Rodwell during a short-handed breakaway.
Although the Sioux outshot the Irish 12-7 in the opening stanza, Dell also had to make some big stops. He robbed the Irish’s Nick Larson on a well-executed two-on-one rush with just under two minutes remaining in the period.
In the second period, fireworks went off prematurely when UND’s Mike Cichy appeared to score on the power play, but the referee immediately signaled no goal and play went on. The Sioux didn’t misfire on their next opportunity. UND freshman forward Derek Rodwell tipped defenseman Derek Forbort’s shot from the left point past Johnson to give the Sioux the lead at 10:42. It was his fourth tally of the season.
Notre Dame struck back with a short-handed goal by freshman center T.J. Tynan at 14:57. Riley Sheahan carried the puck into the Sioux zone and fired a sharply-angled shot from Dell’s right. He couldn’t control the rebound, which went up the slot past UND defenders Chay Genoway and Jake Marto. Tynan swept in and pounded home the loose puck to make it a 1-1 game.
A roughing penalty on Notre Dame’s Stephen Johns at the end of the second period gave UND a power play at the start of the third. Frattin notched his 13th goal of the season by beating a screened Johnson at 1:31 to give UND a 2-1 lead. The Sioux clung to their lead until Notre Dame tied it at the 16:57 mark.
Tynan got around Genoway and swept in on Dell, who stopped the initial shot. A mad scramble ensued and Notre Dame sophomore defenseman Sam Calabrese pinballed the loose puck off a pile of players and into the net. His first goal of the season proved to be a big one.
“They’re a good team with great players,” Hakstol said of Notre Dame. “Their kid made a hell of a play to get that puck to the net. He made a real good inside-to-outside move, drove the net and they whacked the rebound in.”
With the score knotted 2-2, Notre Dame’s Joe Lavin was called for holding Danny Kristo, who was going hard to the net with 2.3 seconds left in regulation. With 1:57 of power play left to start overtime, the Sioux couldn’t capitalize. As time ran down, Calabrese was called for tripping Frattin as he was about to split the Fighting Irish defense with 37 seconds remaining.
Frattin had a chance to end it when his shot from high in the slot beat Johnson, but hit the crossbar. Notre Dame generated one final rush short-handed and forced Dell to make another save just before the horn.
“Maybe that’s the way this one was meant to end, with all kinds of excitement,” Hakstol said.
Johnson made 39 saves on 41 shots for Notre Dame and Dell had 26 saves on 28 shots for UND. The Sioux were 1-7 on the power play while the Fighting Irish went 0-3.
In the second game, Jackson said the Fighting Irish overcame the effects of competing against a veteran UND squad in a hostile environment.
“Yesterday, our younger kids were like deer in headlights,” he explained. “It’s the first time all year long that they hadn’t been major contributors to our success. Tonight, T.J. Tynan scored a big goal. I thought the young guys played much, much better.”
The Sioux return to WCHA play Dec. 3-4 at home against St. Cloud State. Notre Dame goes on the road again to take on CCHA opponent Miami.