Hockey: No. 15 Ohio State’s Dobeš and Preston shut down No. 13 Irish, 4-1

By John Fineran
ND Insider
Notre Dame's Jesse Lansdell (14) and Ohio State's Jakub Dobeš fight for a loose puck during the Notre Dame vs. Ohio State NCAA hockey game Dec. 3, 2021 in South Bend. Saturday in Columbus, Dobeš and the Buckeyes turned away the Irish, 4-1.

A red-hot goaltender and a red-hot right wing for No. 15 Ohio State proved to be too much for No. 13 Notre Dame in Saturday’s Big Ten Hockey Conference series finale before 6,114 fans at the Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Freshman Jakub Dobeš, a 6-foot-4 goaltender from the Czech Republic, turned aside 38 of 39 shots he faced and senior Quinn Preston scored three goals and assisted on another as the Buckeyes beat the Fighting Irish 4-1 to move into second place in the Big Ten.

Preston, who opened the game’s scoring with a power-play goal against Notre Dame’s usually stingy penalty-kill units, scored his second goal at 19:20 of a second period during which Dobeš made 15 saves, including eight in a two-minute stretch when Notre Dame had a 5-on-3 skaters advantage because of coincidental penalties called against Ohio State. 

► More:Hockey: Stastney’s OT goal lifts No. 13 Irish past No. 15 Buckeyes, 3-2

► More:All you need to know about Notre Dame hockey's weekend series at Ohio State

Though coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish enjoyed a 39-22 edge in shots on goal during the game, the Irish managed to get just one goal — a shorthanded tally by Cam Burke during the first period that momentarily tied the game at 1-1. It was Burke’s eighth goal of his senior season (he had seven in his career coming into the game) and his second shorthanded goal of the year and Notre Dame’s fifth.

With his team leading 2-1 after two periods, Preston assisted on freshman center Georgii Merkulov’s goal at 4:11 of the third period and finished off the scoring by beating Notre Dame junior goalie Ryan Bischel at 16:21. Bischel, who backstopped Notre Dame to a 3-2 overtime victory Friday night, started for the second straight night instead of grad-transfer Matthew Galajda and finished with 18 saves.

Coach Steve Rohlik’s Buckeyes, who entered the game tied for third with Notre Dame, leaped ahead of Minnesota into second place behind league-leader Michigan. The Buckeyes, 16-7-1 overall, improved to 8-5-1 in the Big Ten for 27 points, two behind the Wolverines who completed a sweep of visiting Penn State with a 4-3 victory Saturday.

Minnesota, which suffered a 3-2 non-conference setback at home to Alaska, is third with 25 points, one ahead of Jackson’s Irish, who are 9-5-0 in the Big Ten and 16-7 overall. Notre Dame returns home to play its final non-conference game of the season Wednesday night against Boston College. Faceoff is at 7 p.m.

After there were just four penalties called in Friday’s game, five were whistled in the first 20 minutes Saturday, and Notre Dame’s penalty-kill, No. 2 nationally coming into the weekend, surrendered a goal early but got it back later with the team’s fifth shorthanded goal of the season.

With Solag Bakich of Notre Dame off for holding at 2:00, the Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead when Cole McWard’s slapshot from the point bounced off a player in the slot to the stick of Preston, who poked it behind Bischel at 3:18. 

Notre Dame’s Jack Adams was whistled for slashing at 5:03 and Bischel kept the deficit at 1-0 when he stopped Grant Gabriele. But later in the penalty as both teams changed players, Burke came up with a loose puck at center ice, carried in and fired a 20-footer quickly past the unsettled Dobeš, beating the Ohio State goalie just inside the far post at 6:44 to make it 1-1.

On the first of two Ohio State penalties at 11:27, Notre Dame’s Max Ellis wristed a 30-footer that beat Dobeš but not the far pipe five seconds later. Then on the second Irish power play, the Ohio State goalie stopped Landon Slaggert, who had a goal and two assists Friday, on a close-in attempt.

Dobeš robbed Trevor Janicke at 18:58 of the period with the teams at even strength before Notre Dame received its third penalty of the period at 19:25 when Jake Boltmann was sent off for tripping.

The penalties continued in the second period, and the Buckeyes got two of them at 7:36 when Preston was whistled for tripping and Mark Cheremeta went off for hooking. With the 5-on-3 advantage, the Irish looked to take advantage, but Dobeš came up even bigger than his 6-foot-4 frame, turning aside eight shots — three by Nick Leivermann, three by Janicke and two by Ellis. 

The eight Irish shots in the two minutes equaled what Ohio State had mustered in the first 29:36 of the game but the score remained tied at 1-1. Dobeš continued to frustrate the Irish until the end of the period.

In the final minute, Dobeš stopped Landon Slaggert and the puck eventually came to center ice where Merkulov picked it up and carried into the Irish zone. He waited until Preston found his way into the slot and then passed it to him. Preston beat Bischel at 19:20 to make it 2-1 Ohio State, and the score remained that way after Dobeš denied Leivermann and Burke in the final seconds, finishing with 15 saves in the period to Bischel’s five.

Notre Dame again outshot Ohio State 13-10 in the final period. But the Buckeyes got goals from Merkulov and Preston to finish off the victory which coupled with the point they earned in Friday’s overtime loss gave them four of the six points available in the series.

Notre Dame, 7-3 on the road, returns to the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena for its next five games beginning with Wednesday’s 7 p.m. faceoff with Boston College (10-8-3). The Fighting Irish are off next weekend before following with Big Ten series against visiting Minnesota (Jan. 28-29) and Penn State (Feb. 4-5).

No. 15 OHIO STATE 4, No. 13 NOTRE DAME 1

Value City Arena at Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio

Notre Dame 1 | 0 | 0 — 1

Ohio State 1 | 1 | 2 — 4

First Period — Scoring: 1. Ohio State, Quinn Preston 4 (Cole McWard, Travis Treloar) PP 3:18. 2. Notre Dame, Cam Burke 8 (unassisted) SH 6:44. Penalties: Notre Dame 3-6, Ohio State 2-4.

Second Period—Scoring: 3. Ohio State, Quinn Preston 5 (Georgii Merkulov, Grant Gabriele) EV 19:20. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (4-8), Ohio State 2-4 (4-8).

Third Period—Scoring: 4. Ohio State, Georgii Merkulov 12 (Quinn Preston, Cam Theising) EV 4:11. 5. Ohio State, Quinn Preston 6 (Cole McWard) EV 16:21. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (5-10), Ohio State 0-0 (4-8).

Shots on goal: Notre Dame 39 (11-15-13), Ohio State 22 (6-6-10). Goalie saves: Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 18 (5-5-8), Ohio State, Jakub Dobeš 38 (10-15-13). Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 0 of 4, Ohio State 1 of 5. Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 29 (11-8-10), Ohio State 35 (8-13-14). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 9 (4-2-3), Ohio State 14 (4-5-5).

Referees: Sean Fernandez and Brett Sheva. Linesmen: Bill Hancock and Jake Davis. Attendance: 6,114 (18,809).

Records: Notre Dame 16-7-0 (9-5-0 Big Ten for 24 points), Ohio State 16-7-1 (8-5-1 Big Ten for 27 points).