ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Junior defenseman Spencer Stastney broke a scoreless tie with a goal at 17:46 of the third period and junior right wing Alex Steeves scored into an empty-net goal 43 seconds later, but Notre Dame still had to hold on to beat No. 3 Michigan 2-1 and complete a two-game Big Ten Hockey Conference sweep Saturday night.
The wild finish — Michigan’s Jacob Truscott beat Irish goalie Ryan Bischel at 19:16 and Notre Dame had to kill off the Wolverines’ 6-on-4 skaters advantage to the final horn — provided Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish with their fifth straight victory at Red Berenson Rink in the Yost Ice Arena in the 150th hockey game between the two schools dating back to 1922. Michigan holds an 80-65-5 edge.
Bischel, a sophomore goaltender from Medina, Michigan, who stopped 32 shots in Friday’s 3-2 Irish victory, got the start again for Notre Dame and finished with 23 saves to outduel last year’s Big Ten goaltender of the year, junior Strauss Mann of Michigan, who had 29 saves.
“Obviously I am very proud of our guys after a tough opening weekend and then final exams,” Jackson said. “Maybe focusing on hockey for the last week or so helped. To play a team with so much offensive firepower that also does a good job trapping up the neutral zone, we had a hard time generating a lot of offense. We’re really excited now about moving forward and we can see if we can continue to get better.”
The Irish, 2-2 overall and 2-2-0-0-0 in the Big Ten, begin a six-game home stand Thursday and Friday at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena with a two-game, non-conference series against independent Arizona State. The Sun Devils (1-3-1), who are playing four non-conference games against each Big Ten team during this COVID-19 season, won their first game of the season by outscoring Wisconsin 8-5 in Madison.
Coach Mel Pearson’s Wolverines (4-2-0 overall, 2-2-0-1-0 Big Ten) visit Penn State Wednesday and Thursday.
Neither team really dominated the first two periods, but the Irish took control in the third, outshooting the Wolverines 5-0 to start the period on the way to a 13-7 dominance in the final 20 minutes.
It was still scoreless until Stastney, a junior from Mequon, Wisconsin, whistled a shot from the right boards that was redirected by a Wolverine stick past Mann for a 1-0 lead at 17:46. Fellow defenseman Nate Clurman and South Bend’s Graham Slaggert got assists.
Then after Pearson pulled Mann for a sixth attacker, Steeves deposited the puck into the empty net with Michael Graham and Colin Theisen receiving assists for a 2-0 Irish lead at 18:29.
But Michigan didn’t go away quietly. Truscott beat Bischel off assists from Luke Morgan and Kent Johnson at the same time Notre Dame’s Solag Bakich was whistled for elbowing. But Notre Dame managed to kill off the 6-4 Michigan advantage that resulted after Mann vacated his net for a second time with 38 seconds remaining.
The Irish outshot the Wolverines 7-4 in a scoreless first period. Just past the midway point of the period, the Irish had a 5-1 edge and Mann was tested twice by Theisen and once by Graham before getting a faceoff at 11:38.
After being whistled in the first period for the only penalty of Friday’s game, Notre Dame got whistled again late in the first period Saturday when Stastney went off for holding. But the Irish penalty kill managed things well for Bischel, who made one save on Matty Beniers near the end of the penalty.
In the second period, Bischel came up with three early saves to keep the game scoreless before the Wolverines got another power-play opportunity when Notre Dame’s Theisen was whistled for tripping at 4:20. But a Michigan penalty for hooking on Brendan Brisson at 5:18 evened things up and the Irish got a chance when Graham Slaggert’s shot, off a feed from Max Ellis, was stopped by Mann.
The teams alternated scoring opportunities with Bischel twice stopping Morgan and Mann returning with saves against Jesse Lansdell and Steeves.
Michigan got a penalty at 12:25 when Garrett Van Wyhe was whistled for slashing. Graham Slaggert and Stastney each tested Mann before Bischel stopped a shorthanded attempt by Dakota Raabe near the penalty’s end.
Bischel then made saves on Bordeleau and Truscott at 15:16 before Mann stopped Irish defenseman Nick Leivermann at 17:29.
With 1.7 seconds left on the clock, Michigan got an offensive faceoff when Notre Dame was used a high stick to stop a clearing effort. Johnny Beecher won the draw from Graham and defenseman Keaton Pehrson whistled a shot past Bischel. But after a review, the officials said time had expired, leaving the game scoreless headed into the third period.
NOTRE DAME 2, MICHIGAN 1
Red Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, Mich.
First Period—Scoring: None. Penalties: Notre Dame 1-2, Michigan 0-0.
Second Period—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (2-4), Michigan 2-4 (2-4).
Third Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Spencer Stastney 1 (Nate Clurman, Graham Slaggert) EV 17:46. 2. Notre Dame, Alex Steeves 1 (Michael Graham, Colin Theisen) EN 18:29. 3. Michigan, Jacob Truscott 1 (Luke Morgan, Kent Johnson) EV 19:16. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (3-6), Michigan 0-0 (2-4).
Power-play opportunities—Notre Dame 0 of 2; Michigan 0 of 3.
Faceoffs won—Notre Dame 29 (8-13-8), Michigan 30 (12-12-6).
Blocked shots—Notre Dame 13 (6-4-3), Michigan 11 (3-6-2).
Shots on goal—Notre Dame 31 (7-11-13), Michigan 24 (4-13-7).
Goalie saves—Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 23 (4-13-6), Michigan, Strauss Mann 29 (7-11-11)
Records—Notre Dame 2-2-0, 2-2-0-0-0 Big Ten. Michigan 4-2-0, 2-2-0-1-0 Big Ten.
Referees—Brett DesRosiers and Sean Fernandez. Linesmen—Justin Cornell and Nick Huff.