DETROIT — The difference between victory and defeat in the first CCHA semifinal game was more than a goal plus an empty-netter.
In Notre Dame’s 3-1 win over Ohio State on Saturday, the difference was 27 shots, a successful power play and more than a little bit of experience.
2013 CCHA Championship
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The Irish outshot the Buckeyes 44-17 in the contest, in which OSU netminder Brady Hjelle would have been considered the difference maker all by himself had the Buckeyes been able to generate more offense.
“Shots don’t mean offense necessarily,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “It’s just a philosophy. You can’t score unless you get pucks to the net. We’ve emphasized it all season long. Two of our game objectives are to get 12 shots in the first period and 10 in the third.
“It’s just a mind-set. We have to make an effort. If we have the shot, get it to the net. At times … we’ve struggled. We’ve tried to overpass or make plays that aren’t there.
“Tonight we took advantage of the opportunities to get the puck to the net.”
To be precise, the Irish had 11 shots in the first and 16 in the third, and it was that relentless third period that undermined any effort the Buckeyes made to get back into the game after Tynan scored on the power play. OSU had five shots in the third.
“We need to attempt 50 to 60 shot attempts and I’m not sure we attempted even 25,” Buckeyes coach Mark Osiecki said. “It’s just a mind-set. We’re trying to get our guys to have that very ingrained in them.”
Osiecki credited the Irish for their smothering play. “That’s an experienced team that we played against, a gifted team that we played against,” he said. “They did a nice job. I don’t want to take anything away from the way Notre Dame played.”
The first period was tentative and taut, with the Buckeyes opening the scoring at 9:56 on Ryan Dzingel’s 16th marker of the season.
Notre Dame’s Peter Schneider — listed on the team’s fourth line with Thomas DiPauli and Steven Fogarty — answered less than a minute later to even the score. That goal may have fated the rest of the game, Jackson said.
“Obviously, Peter’s goal after Ohio State scored was huge for us to get our confidence right back,” Jackson said. “Sometimes responding when you have that first goal against is one of the most important things.”
After a scoreless second period, it was Tynan’s beautiful snipe on the power play at 3:50 in the third that proved to be the winner. Flying in left on an odd-man rush, Tynan fired past a Buckeyes defender who screened Hjelle, who never saw the puck until it was behind him in the net.
“I saw an opening and I thought maybe David Gerths would maybe tip it or something,” Tynan said, “but it just went straight in the net and I was pretty excited and we just went from there.”
Jeff Costello capped the scoring at 18:55 with an empty-net goal.
Jackson said the plan for this game was to play Notre Dame’s game. It’s the same plan the Irish have for Sunday’s championship contest.
“If we play our game, hopefully with our conditioning and the way we play the game, we can work things out — putting pressure on them, getting pucks in, working hard both ways, getting the puck in aggressively, and making sure that we retreat back aggressively,” Jackson said.
The Buckeyes finished their season at 16-17-7.
“Obviously, we’re a young team,” Osiecki said. “Tonight you saw in the lineup we had one senior and one transfer senior. We couldn’t be more proud of what our team accomplished this year.”