ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After seeing his team score just three goals in its first two games of this coronavirus-delayed Big Ten hockey season, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson indicated his team would need to find its offense collectively.
Friday night, the Fighting Irish did, getting their first two goals from defensemen Nick Leivermann and Nate Clurman.
Freshman left wing Grant Silianoff then made it 3-0 in the second period on a breakaway before sophomore goalie Ryan Bischel finished with 32 saves and Notre Dame held off No. 3 Michigan’s rally for a 3-2 victory on the Red Berenson Rink in the Yost Ice Arena.
“It was a big first win for our team,” Jackson said. “The fact that we got off to a good start was really important. Those first couple of games we were chasing the entire time so it is a lot easier playing with the lead.
“I thought Ryan Bischel gave us a good game in net and then the good thing is we didn’t crumble after they scored that second goal,” Jackson added. “I thought we did a good job responding and playing pretty solid and that’s the most important thing. It’s still early in the season and I just want to get a little better every game and today was good progress.”
Jackson went with Bischel, who has been battling junior redshirt Dylan St. Cyr all semester to succeed graduate Cale Morris, and Bischel, who hails from Medina, Minnesota, kept the Irish in the game from the start. The Wolverines (4-1-0 overall, 4-1-0-1-0 Big Ten) outshot the Irish (1-2-0, 1-2-0-0-0 Big Ten) 7-1 early and 34-18 for the game, including 12-3 in the final period.
Leivermann, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound junior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, gave the Irish a 1-0 lead when he blasted a shot past Michigan goalie Strauss Mann inside the faceoff circle at 10:31 of the first period with Michael Graham and Alex Steeves receiving assists.
Then early in the second period, Irish freshman forward Landon Slaggert forced a turnover in the Irish defensive zone and fed junior brother Graham Slaggert out of the zone.
Junior defenseman and captain Clurman eventually took advantage of the work of associate head coach Andy Slaggert’s sons and fired a slapshot from inside the blueline through a maze of players including Irish forward Max Ellis to beat Mann at 6:13. It was the first career goal for Clurman, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Boulder, Colorado.
Another Michigan turnover, this one caused at center ice by the 5-foot-9 sophomore Ellis, ended up on the stick of Silianoff, who broke in and beat Mann at 88 seconds later for a 3-0 Irish lead at 7:41.
Bischel kept it at 3-0 when he stopped five shots by Michigan, the last a breakaway by Michigan’s Matty Beniers around the 12-minute mark.
The Wolverines finally scored at 17:48 of the second period when Luke Morgan beat Bischel off a feed from Jacob Truscott to cut the Irish lead to 3-1.
Then early in the third period, senior left wing Michael Pastujov cut the Irish lead to one goal when he converted a feed from defenseman Jack Summers at 2:25.
Moments later, Bischel stopped Nick Granowicz on a breakaway as Michigan had a 4-0 shot lead in the first five minutes. Defenseman Matt Hellickson eventually got the Irish their first shot on goal and Steeves later hit the pipe at 6:30 for Notre Dame.
Bischel then made three saves during a Michigan flurry with 17:12 gone in the period. Moments later, he denied defenseman Cam York and held on for a faceoff with 17:54 gone. During the stoppage, Michigan coach Mel Pearson pulled Mann, who had 15 saves, for a sixth attacker.
Over the final 2:06, Bischel stopped Nick Blankenburg with 1:21 remaining and the Irish won five faceoffs – two by Jake Pivonka, one by Pierce Crawford and two by Graham Slaggert – and had a blocked shot by Steeves. For the game, the Irish won 32 of the 50 faceoffs and also blocked 13 shots to Michigan’s six.
The two teams concluded their series Saturday night. Notre Dame returns home to play a non-conference series Thursday and Friday nights against Arizona State.
Notre Dame 1 2 0—3
Michigan 0 1 1—2
First Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Nick Leivermann 1 (Michael Graham, Alex Steeves) EV 10:31. Penalties: Notre Dame 1-2, Michigan 0-0.
Second Period—Scoring: 2. Notre Dame, Nate Clurman 1 (Graham Slaggert, Landon Slaggert) EV 6:13. 3. Notre Dame, Grant Silianoff 1 (Max Ellis) EV 7:41. 4. Michigan, Luke Morgan (Jacob Truscott) EV 17:48. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (1-2), Michigan 0-0 (0-0).
Third Period—Scoring: 5. Michigan, Michael Pastujov 3 (Jack Summers) EV 2:25. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (1-2), Michigan 0-0 (0-0).
Power-play opportunities—Notre Dame 0 of 0, Michigan 0 of 1.
Faceoffs won—Notre Dame 32 (10-10-12), Michigan 18 (4-9-5).
Blocked shots—Notre Dame 13, Michigan 6.
Shots on goal—Notre Dame 18 (7-8-3), Michigan 34 (8-14-12).
Goalie saves—Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 32 (8-13-11), Michigan, Strauss Mann 15 (6-6-3)
Records—Notre Dame 1-2-0, 1-2-0-0-0 Big Ten. Michigan 4-1-0, 2-1-0-1-0 Big Ten.
Referees: Brett DesRosiers, Sean Fernandez. Linesmen: Justin Cornell, Nick Huff.