Matthew Galajda’s second shutout helps No. 15 Notre Dame sweep Wisconsin

By John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson has been fighting a head cold this week.

Saturday night his 15th-ranked Irish provided their coach with the best medicine possible – a 3-0 Big Ten Hockey Conference shutout victory over Wisconsin before 3,977 fans at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena that completed a weekend sweep of the Badgers.

► Hockey preview: All you need to know about the Notre Dame-Wisconsin series this weekend

Grad-transfer goaltender Matthew Galajda turned aside 22 Wisconsin shots for his second shutout since arriving from Cornell where he twice was a finalist for the Mike Richter Goaltender of the Year award.

Galajda, who earlier this season blanked RIT 6-0 on Oct. 22, now has 21 career shutouts, fourth in NCAA history. He is 7-1-0 and lowered his goals-against average to 1.38 while improving his saves percentage to .940.

“Tonight, the goaltending was the difference,” said Jackson, whose team (8-3-0 overall, 2-2-0 Big Ten) was coming off a 5-1 Friday victory over Tony Granato’s Badgers (4-8-0, 2-4-0 Big Ten). “(Galajda) made some big saves for us.”

None better and bigger than his robbery of Wisconsin’s senior Jack Gorniak, who found himself all alone with the puck about 10 feet in front of the Irish goaltender in the third period. But Galajda made the save at 11:36, and the frustration was clearly evident from Gorniak, who went to one knee while shaking his head.

“That was probably the biggest save of the night,” Jackson said. “We didn’t get those saves at Minnesota (where the Irish dropped their opening Big Ten series of the season 4-1 and 3-2 on Oct. 29-30).”

Since then, Jackson has gone with Galajda instead of splitting time with junior Ryan Bischel, and the Irish have responded with four straight home victories – two over non-conference foe Holy Cross last week and now two league victories over the Badgers. 

With Galajda holding down the fort, the Irish skated aggressively for the second straight game against Wisconsin. Saturday night, senior defenseman Nick Leivermann led the way with a goal and assist while sophomore left wing Grant Silianoff and freshman center Hunter Strand added the other goals.

“It gives them confidence to know he (Galajda) is back there,” Jackson said. “We played much better in the third period after they put a little heat on us in the second period.”

One negative for Jackson was Notre Dame’s six penalties that the Irish managed to kill thanks to eight saves by Galajda, including four during a first-period penalty to Solag Bakich for delay of the game.

Next up is a weekend series Friday and Saturday at No. 2 Michigan, which leads the Big Ten with 15 points and is coming off a sweep at Penn State. “Right now, Michigan is the most talented team in the country,” Jackson said. “We just have to play our game and be smart in how we play the game.”

The Irish, who outshot the Badgers 48-25 in Friday’s victory, had a 12-10 edge in Saturday’s first period against Wisconsin sophomore goalie Cameron Rowe (22 saves) and came away with a 2-0 lead.

The first goal, by Silianoff, came on Notre Dame’s first of two power-play opportunities for the night. Right wing Max Ellis started the play when he found Ryder Rolston along the high boards. Rolston then fed Leivermann across the ice, and Leivermann found Silianoff to the right of Rowe for the goal at 7:26.

In the final minute of the period with the teams skating 4-on-4, Ellis found defenseman Chase Blackmun, who passed across the ice to Leivermann. Leivermann skated in and beat Rowe high to his stick side at 19:14 for a 2-0 lead.

Galajda continued his steady play in the second period with five more saves, and he was rewarded with a minute left when Strand made it 3-0 at 19:00. Grad-transfer defenseman Adam Karashik started the play with a shot from the right point that went off Jack Adams onto the stick of Landon Slaggert, who centered it to Strand.

NOTRE DAME 3, WISCONSIN 0

At Lefty Smith Rink in Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend

Wisconsin | 0 | 0 | 0—0

Notre Dame | 2 | 1 | 0—3

First Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Grant Silianoff 2 (Nick Leivermann, Ryder Rolston) PP 7:26. 2. Notre Dame, Nick Leivermann 3 (Chase Blackmun, Max Ellis) EV 19:14. Penalties: Wisconsin 2-4, Notre Dame 3-6.

Second Period—Scoring: 3. Notre Dame, Hunter Strand 3 (Landon Slaggert, Jack Adams) EV 19:00. Penalties (total): Wisconsin 0-0 (2-4), Notre Dame 1-2 (4-8).

Third Period—Scoring: 4. Notre Dame/Wisconsin. Penalties (total): Wisconsin 0-0 (2-4), Notre Dame 2-4 (6-12).

Shots on goal: Wisconsin 22 (10-7-5), Notre Dame 25 (12-6-7). Goalie saves: Wisconsin, Cameron Rowe 22 (10-5-7), Notre Dame, Matthew Galajda 22 (10-7-5). Power-play opportunities: Wisconsin 0 of 6, Notre Dame 1 of 2. Faceoffs won: Wisconsin 23 (9-7-7), Notre Dame 27 (9-10-8). Blocked shots: Wisconsin 11 (6-4-1), Notre Dame 18 (3-5-10).

Referees: Cameron Lynch and Sean Fernandez. Linesmen: Mike Daltry and Justin Cornell. Attendance: 3,977 (5,022).

Records: Wisconsin 4-8-0 (2-4-0 Big Ten), Notre Dame 8-3-0 (2-2-0 Big Ten).

BIG TEN STANDINGS

(Conference)

Pts, GP, W-L-T, OW-OL, SW, GF-GA

Michigan 15, 6, 5-1-0, 0-0, 0, 26-11

Minnesota 13, 6, 4-2-0, 0-1, 0, 19-12

Ohio State 12, 6, 4-1-0, 0-0, 0, 19-11

Notre Dame 6, 4, 2-2-0, 0-0, 0, 11-8

Wisconsin 5, 6, 2-4-0, 1-0, 0, 11-21

Michigan State 3, 4, 1-3-0, 0-0, 0, 7-16

Penn State 0, 4, 0-4-0, 0-0, 0, 6-20

(Overall, W-L-T, .Pct, GF-GA)

Michigan 10-2-0, .833, 52-26; Minnesota 7-5-0, .583, 40-31; Ohio State 7-3-0, .700, 34-17; Notre Dame 8-3-0, .727, 40-19; Wisconsin 4-8-0, .333, 20-40; Michigan State 6-5-1, .542, 27-31; Penn State 6-5-0, .545, 36-35.

Saturday, Nov. 13 schedule

Notre Dame, Wisconsin 0

Minnesota 2, Ohio State 0

Michigan State 4, Ferris State 3

Friday, Nov. 19 schedule

Notre Dame at Michigan, 7:30 p.m.

Wisconsin at Michigan State, 7 p.m.

Penn State at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 20 schedule

Notre Dame at Michigan, 8 p.m.

Wisconsin at Michigan State, 8 p.m.

Penn State at Minnesota, 9 p.m.