SOUTH BEND – After rolling through the first round of Big Ten Conference play, top-ranked Notre Dame returned to the ice following an off week and kept its undefeated league record intact.
Notre Dame (19-3-1, 13-0-0-0 Big Ten) started strong and held off a late rush by Wisconsin (11-12-3, 5-8-2-0 Big Ten) in a 4-2 win Friday night in front of 5,630 fans at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
The win was a program-record 16th straight for Coach Jeff Jackson’s squad, tied for second most with Harvard since the 2002-03 season. Only Boston College (19 straight in 2011-12) has won more.
“There are areas where we have to improve our game,” Jackson said. “If we do that, everything will take care of itself. We are not going to win every game the rest of the way. It’s been a great run and hopefully we can continue that on Sunday.”
The two-game series concludes Sunday afternoon with a 3:05 p.m. EST matinee from Chicago’s United Center.
“That’s a good hockey team that we played,” Jackson said of the Badgers. “It was a tough game to grind through. I thought our guys did a great job, especially holding the fort in the third period. We did not give up a lot.”
The Fighting Irish struck first in the opening period on a power play goal. Andrew Oglevie appeared to score when the puck went into the back of the net. The officials did not see it, however, and play continued. Wisconsin then appeared to score a short-handed goal by Cameron Hughes.
Following Hughes’goal, video replay confirmed that Oglevie did indeed score off a Collin Theisen assist at the 7:08 mark to give Notre Dame a 1-0.
“It is a tough break, but it is hockey,” Hughes said.
The Fighting Irish made it 2-0 at the 11:51 mark when Jake Evans scored off an assist from Cam Morrison.
“It’s important to get off to good starts,” Jackson said. “We had a tough time of it in the first half (of the season) and that has been a point of emphasis. We spent a lot of time talking about how we can do things better for the start of games.”
Trent Frederic was interfered with by Mike O’Leary on a breakaway goal at the 17:56 mark and the Badgers were awarded a penalty shot. Frederic took advantage and beat Fighting Irish goalie Cale Morris to put Wisconsin on the board.
Notre Dame struck right back as Andrew Peeke scored on assists from Oglevie and Dylan Malmquist to make it 3-1.
Late in the second period, a fight broke out following a vicious hit into the boards. It resulted in roughing after the whistle penalties to Peter Tische and Ryan Wagner of Wisconsin and Notre Dame’s Justin Wade. Wade was also assessed a five-minute major contact-to-the-head penalty and a game misconduct.
“Justin’s penalty, I looked at it on film and it was a hard hit,” Jackson said. “I don’t think it was a high hit and that is why it was called a major. He is a physical player. When somebody does take liberties on another player or a goaltender, we are going to step up and get involved. We are not going to let people have their way with us. But we have to do it with common sense.”
Moments after the Fighting Irish killed the Badgers power play, Tarek Baker scored off assists from Max Zimmer and Will Johnson at 4:17 to bring Wisconsin to within one.
“We did a good job in that five-minute major of killing it off,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, they scored as soon as we got the guy out of the box. And for the most park, I thought our (penalty killing) did a nice job.”
Wisconsin goalie Kyle Hayton finished with 25 saves that kept the Badgers in the game.
The Badgers pulled Hayton late in the third and went with six attackers.
But Notre Dame’s Dawson Cook was able to grab the loose puck and shot into an empty net to seal the win.
The Badgers have played the Fighting Irish tough in all three games this season, but just coming up short.
“They’re not on a 16-game winning streak for no reason at all,” Hughes said. “They’re a pretty good hockey team. (Sunday) should be fun and I am looking forward to it.”