Leivermann goal with 5.1 seconds left caps Irish three-goal rally over ASU

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame junior defenseman Nick Leivermann picked the right time to be aggressive Friday night against Arizona State at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

With the clock ticking toward the end of regulation and the puck trickling toward the neutral zone, Leivermann reacted at just the right time. He stepped up to keep the puck onside at the blueline and a few ticks later, Leivermann whacked his own rebound from the mid slot past Arizona State goalie Cole Brady with 5.1 seconds remaining to cap off a three-goal, third-period rally which lifted No. 13/16 Notre Dame to a 5-4 victory over the 20th-ranked Sun Devils.

“I had actually backed out of the zone pretty far and saw the puck kind of trickling around,” the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Eden Prairie, Minnesota, standout said. “With 10 seconds left, I thought why not jump back up and try to make a play and end the game. It was pretty close (from being offsides).”

After a lengthy review, the referees ruled that Leivermann wasn’t, and after center Jake Pivonka won the faceoff, coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish (3-3-0) had a victory to remember. It came 24 hours after Thursday’s disappointing 6-3 loss to the Sun Devils (3-4-1) during which the Irish gave up goals 11 seconds and 1:55 into the contest. That loss came after an impressive sweep at powerhouse Michigan the weekend before.

And the first home victory of the season came just one period after the Irish, who had jumped to a 2-0 first-period lead Friday, saw Arizona State score four times in 19:19 over the first and second periods, outshooting the Irish in the middle period 19-4.

“Going from such a positive period to a negative period to finish the second, it was just a matter of getting their heads straight,” said Jackson, who challenged his team in their morning skate-around to start quicker and then reminded them they needed to create their own energy to overcome their second-period slumbers.

“We took a look in the mirror,” Leivermann said. “In between periods, coach Jackson just said to stick to what we did in the first period, get pucks on the goalie and just crash (the net).”

Notre Dame responded by outshooting Arizona State 17-0 to start the third period, with center Pivonka and left wing Solag Bakich scoring their first goals of the season on the team’s 15th and 16th shots of the period at 11:22 and 12:39, respectively, to tie the game. The Irish finished with a 22-3 shot advantage in the period and a 47-37 edge in the game.

It was Leivermann’s second goal of the game, the eighth of his career and his first game-winner. Opening the scoring for Notre Dame was Alex Steeves and freshman Landon Slaggert, who scored his first in an Irish uniform. Max Ellis, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound speedy right wing on the line with Bakich and Pivonka, contributed two assists.

Senior Dylan St. Cyr, who replaced Michigan series hero Ryan Bischel midway through the final period of Thursday’s loss, got the start for Notre Dame in net and finished with 33 saves, 14 in the first and 16 in the second period.

For Greg Powers’ Sun Devils, freshman left wing Matthew Kopperud duplicated his two-goal, one-assist performance from Thursday. Jordan Sandhu and Ryan O’Reilly netted the other two goals. The 6-foot-5 freshman Brady finished with 42 saves, 19 in each of the first and third periods.

Steeves and Slaggert scored their goals 13 seconds apart beginning at the 5:10 in the first period. And then the Irish killed off a 5-on-3 Arizona State power play lasting 1:28 with St. Cyr stopping five shots, three by O’Reilly, with the help of penalty-killers Steeves, Pivonka, Michael Graham, Leivermann, Spencer Stastney and Matt Hellickson.

But the Irish got careless in the first period’s final minute and Sandhu made them pay at 19:05 to send the Irish into the locker room with a 2-1 lead and down a man to start the second period because of Bakich’s charging call at the 20:00 mark.

St. Cyr was tested just once on the resulting Arizona State power play, and after the penalty was finished, Colin Theisen got a breakaway with a chance to put the Irish up 3-1. The senior left wing skated in on Brady and beat the Arizona State goalie, but his shot hit off the pipe.

The clank seemed to awaken the Sun Devils. Kopperud scored at 12:51 to tie the game and then followed with a second goal on a power play at 17:24 to put Arizona State in the lead. Then O’Reilly scored a minute later, and it was 4-2 Sun Devils after two periods.

The Irish return to Big Ten Conference play against visiting Ohio State Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 5. Arizona State continues its month-long tour of the Big Ten for a non-conference series Friday and Sunday at Penn State.

Arizona State 1 3 0—4

Notre Dame 2 0 3—5

First Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Alex Steeves 2 (unassisted) EV 5:10. 2. Notre Dame, Landon Slaggert 1 (Nate Clurman, Trevor Janicke) EV 5:23. 3. Arizona State, Jordan Sandhu 1 (Matthew Kopperud, Demetrios Koumontzis) EV 19:05. Penalties: Arizona State 1-2, Notre Dame 3-6.

Second Period—Scoring: 4. Arizona State, Matthew Kopperud 5 (Jordan Sandhu, Tanner Hickey) EV 12:51. 5. Arizona State, Matthew Kopperud 6 (James Sanchez, Jacob Semik) PP 17:24. 6. Arizona State, Ryan O’Reilly 3 (Jacob Semik, Chris Grando) EV 18:24. Penalties (total): Arizona State 0-0 (1-2), Notre Dame 0-0 (4-8).

Third Period—Scoring: 7. Notre Dame, Jake Pivonka 1 (Spencer Stastney, Max Ellis) EV 11:22. 8. Notre Dame, Solag Bakich 1 (Jake Pivonka, Max Ellis) EV 12:39. 9. Notre Dame, Nick Leivermann 2 (unassisted) EV 19:55. Penalties (total): Arizona State 0-0 (1-2), Notre Dame 0-0 (4-8).

Power-play opportunities—Arizona State 1 of 4, Notre Dame 0 of 1. Faceoffs won—Arizona State 21 (5-8-8), Notre Dame 37 (13-13-11). Blocked shots—Arizona State 25 (9-5-11), Notre Dame 19 (6-8-5). Shots on goal—Arizona State 37 (15-19-3), Notre Dame 47 (21-4-22). Goalie saves—Arizona State, Cole Brady 42 (19-4-19), Notre Dame, Dylan St. Cyr 33 (14-16-3). Records—Arizona State 3-4-1, Notre Dame 3-3-0. Referees—Jonathon Sitarski and Sean Fernandez. Linesmen—Bill Hancock and Riley Bowles.

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