Hockey: Rolston’s hat trick, Galajda’s 40 saves key 8-2 victory by No. 14 Irish over Eagles

By John Fineran
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Playing without its leading scorer and with the college hockey world perhaps questioning its postseason worthiness, No. 14 Notre Dame turned Wednesday night’s showdown with Boston College into a Holy Crusade.

Everywhere he looked after an 8-2 victory over the Eagles, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson couldn’t have been more pleased as his Fighting Irish scored a season-high in goals, including a hat trick by sophomore right wing Ryder Rolston, got 40 saves from graduate-transfer goalie Matthew Galajda, and shined on special teams at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Following last Saturday’s 4-1 Big Ten loss at Ohio State that dropped them to 16th in the Pairwise Ratings which eventually will help determine the 16 teams for the NCAA Tournament, the 17-7 Fighting Irish, who have losses to Atlantic Hockey teams RIT and Niagara, needed to make a statement against one of the perennial powerhouses of Hockey East. Boston College (10-9-3), unranked coming into the game and now riding a four-game losing streak, does have victories over No. 5 Denver and No. 12 Northeastern this season.

College hockey polls:Irish land at No. 13/No. 14

Now blessed with a nine-day break before it resumes Big Ten play with a home series Jan. 28-29 against Minnesota, Notre Dame should get help from the victory which finished off a seven-game stretch (5-2 record) in the first 19 days of the new year.

Notre Dame's Ryder Rolston (12) scores his third goal as the puck gets past Boston College's Eric Dop (29) during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA men's hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

“I wanted our guys to stay focused on the process,” Jackson said. “Maybe we talked about it (Pairwise) a little too much going into the Penn State and Ohio State games. They knew the importance of this game, especially with the bad losses we have.”

Boston College started quickly with Marc McLaughlin, who will be skating for Team USA along with teammate Drew Helleson in the upcoming Winter Olympics, scored on the game’s first shot 17 seconds into the game as the crowd of 4,124, including more than 1,500 noisy students, had settled into their seats.

Notre Dame's Ryder Rolston (12) leaps onto Boston College's Casey Carreau (22), Trevor Kuntar (15) and Patrick Giles (24) as they are fighting with Notre Dame's Ryan Helliwell (17) during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA men's hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

But without Max Ellis (14 goals, 24 points) who is banged up and after being outshot 9-1 in the first 10:48, Notre Dame got the tying goal at 12:02 from sophomore Grant Silianoff, who would later add three assists. Two of the assists came during a five-goal unanswered barrage in the second period as Notre Dame used two major penalties by Boston College to take control of the game with three power-play goals.

After the first period ended 1-1, Notre Dame captain Jake Pivonka and Jackson requested referees Brett DesRosiers and Sean Fernandez to review tape of what appeared to be a hit by Boston College’s Matt Argentina to the head of Notre Dame center Cam Burke with 2:48 remaining in the period.

Notre Dame's Matthew Galajda (35) makes a stop during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA men's hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

“Our director of hockey operations, Nick Seirgiej, was watching video and saw it, and Andy (Slaggert, the associated head coach) also saw it,” Jackson said. “They both said it was a hit to the head. (The referees) waited until we started the second (period) when they probably should have done it during the intermission.”

Defenseman Spencer Stastney put the Irish up 2-1 just 54 seconds into Argentina’s major. Then Rolston, who hadn’t scored a goal since a 5-1 home victory over Ohio State on Dec. 4, scored what proved to be the game-winner at 11:33 of the second period to make it 3-1. It ignited a four-goal Irish outburst over the next 5:13 that turned the game into a 6-1 rout heading into the final period. 

Trevor Janicke soon made it 4-1 at 13:11 and the last two goals — by Jesse Lansdell (15:11) and Rolston (16:46) — came after Boston College’s Nikita Nesterenko was banished for hitting Irish defenseman Nick Leivermann from behind along the backboards at 14:55.

Boston College’s Trevor Kuntar scored at 1:36 of the third period but Notre Dame closed out the scoring on goals by Graham Slaggert (8:19) and Rolston (19:42) against substitute goalie Eric Dop, who replaced Henry Wilder for the third period.

“Obviously bounces weren’t going my way,” Rolston said of his eight-game goal-scoring slump. “I thought my game plan was pretty good, but I thought it was only a matter of time, especially playing with great linemates like that (Silianoff and Burke).”

Notre Dame's Grant Silianoff (9) gets a shot past Boston College's Henry Wilder (31) during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA men's hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

Led by Rolston’s hat trick and Silianoff’s four-point night, 10 Irish skaters got into the scoring column. Graham Slaggert and Stastney each had a goal and two assists while Jesse Lansdell and Trevor Janicke had a goal and assist each and Landon Slaggert finished with two assists. 

Also helping the offense was the knowledge of having a solid performer in goal like Galajda, twice a Goaltender of the Year Award finalist in three seasons at Cornell before COVID-19 took away his senior year last season. Since joining the Irish, Galajda’s goals-against average has been around 1.90 and he has added two shutouts to the 19 he had at Cornell.

“What makes (Galajda) so solid is his consistency,” Rolston said. “We know we can trust him back there. He’s going to make the save when we need it. He energized us tonight.”

Galajda, who didn’t play last weekend at Ohio State as Jackson elected to go with the equally hot Ryan Bischel two straight nights, wasn’t fazed after surrendering McLaughlin’s goal.

“There’s no panic in my game,” he said. “I knew what I needed to do. When the next puck came, I just had to stop that one.”

Galajda stopped the next 22 he saw before surrendering Kuntar’s goal and the final 17 in the game, including nine during the last of Boston College’s five power-play opportunities at 15:17 of the third period. Entering the game No. 2 nationally while shorthanded, the Irish killed off all five penalties and are now 86 for 93 (0.925).

Notre Dame's Ryder Rolston (12) celebrates a hat trick during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA men's hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

“They had nine shots in the two minutes?” the surprised Galajda asked. “I don’t think I have (stopped nine shots in a power play). And I know I’ve never touched 40 (saves in a game) before. That’s the highest I’ve ever had.”

NOTRE DAME 8, BOSTON COLLEGE 2

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

Boston College 1 | 0 | 1 — 2

Notre Dame 1 | 5 | 2 — 8

First Period—Scoring: 1. Boston College, Marc McLaughlin 17 (Colby Ambrosio) EV 0:17. 2. Notre Dame, Grant Silianoff 4 (Nick Leivermann, Spencer Stastney) EV 12:02. Penalties: Boston College 0-0, Notre Dame 2-4.

Second Period—Scoring: 3. Notre Dame, Spencer Stastney 5 (Jesse Lansdell, Grant Silianoff) PP 0:54. 4. Notre Dame, Ryder Rolston 7 (Solag Bakich) EV 11:33. 5. Notre Dame, Trevor Janicke 8 (Spencer Stastney, Landon Slaggert) EV 13:11. 6. Notre Dame, Jesse Lansdell 5 (Grant Silianoff, Chase Blackmun) PP 15:11. 7. Notre Dame, Ryder Rolston 8 (Graham Slaggert) PP 16:46. Penalties (total): Boston College 4-30 (4-30), Notre Dame 0-0 (2-4).

Third Period—Scoring: 8. Boston College, Trevor Kuntar 6 (Casey Carreau) EV 1:36. 9. Notre Dame, Graham Slaggert 7 (Landon Slaggert, Trevor Janicke) EV 8:19. 10. Notre Dame, Ryder Rolston 9 (Grant Silianoff, Graham Slaggert) EV 19:42. Penalties (total): Boston College 0-0 (4-30), Notre Dame 4-16 (6-20).

Shots on goal: Boston College 42 (10-13-19), Notre Dame 33 (8-16-9). Goalie saves: Boston College (25), Henry Wilder 18 (7-11-x) and Eric Dop (x-x-7); Notre Dame (40), Matthew Galajda 40 (9-13-18). Power-play opportunities: Boston College 0 of 5, Notre Dame 3 of 5. Faceoffs won: Boston College 32 (11-7-14), Notre Dame 18 (8-10-16). Blocked shots: Boston College 15 (9-3-3), Notre Dame 16 (10-2-4).

Referees: Brett DesRosiers and Sean Fernandez. Linesmen: Dan Cohen and Riley Bowles. Attendance: 4,124 (5,022). Records: Notre Dame 17-7-0, Boston College 10-9-3.