Second time's a charm. Slaggert brothers send Irish to Elite 8 with overtime game winner

By John Fineran
ND Insider
Notre Dame players celebrate after defeating North Dakota, 2-1, in overtime of the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday in Albany, N.Y.

No. 10 Notre Dame survived to play another day in the NCAA Division I hockey tournament Thursday night because the South Bend Slaggert brothers were in the right place at the right times too often against No. 8 North Dakota in the second semifinal of the Albany, N.Y. Regional at MVP Arena.

It looked like the Fighting Irish had beaten the Fighting Hawks with a few ticks remaining in regulation on a rebound shot by grad-transfer defenseman Adam Karashik, but the shot was waved off after a 13-minute review by officials.

Shortly thereafter, though, senior center Graham Slaggert’s 25-foot shot beat goalie Zach Driscoll, who was screened by Slaggert’s sophomore brother Landon, on a power play at 1:38 of overtime. The goal gave No. 3-seed Notre Dame a 2-1 victory over No. 2-seed North Dakota in what will certainly go down as one of the more memorable victories in the program’s history.

“We’ve been working on that play the last couple of weeks — we scored a similar goal against Wisconsin in the quarterfinals,” Graham Slaggert said. “Landon does a great job screening the goalie. I kind of knew where he was going to let me shoot, and there was a big enough gap for me."

► More:Graham Slaggert scoring big goals on and off ice as No. 7 Notre Dame enters Big Ten tourney

► In the net:Wait finally over for Galajda, Irish in NCAA hockey showdown with North Dakota

The Slaggert brothers, sons of Notre Dame associate head coach Andy Slaggert, each scored their 12th goal of the season for head coach Jeff Jackson’s team, now 28-11-0 and headed into Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. regional championship game against No. 1 Minnesota State (36-5-0), which earlier in the day ousted No. 4-seed Harvard 4-3.

“I’m only disappointed that Andy and (wife) Tara aren’t having any more kids,” Jackson joked. “You just hire an assistant coach who has good genes.”

NCAA HOCKEY TOURNAMENT

Who: Notre Dame (28-11-0) vs. Minnesota State (36-5-0)

What: Albany (N.Y.) Regional championship

Where: MVP Arena

When: Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Watch: ESPNU

Waves: WZOC-FM (94.3) and UND.com

Winner: Advances to Frozen Four in Boston's TD Garden April 7 and 9

The Irish coach was particularly impressed how his team regathered itself in the locker room before overtime.

“I’m really proud of the guys staying focused because (the disallowed goal) was disheartening,” Jackson said. “I’m just proud of the guys for responding because we still had 30 (actually 26) seconds to kill (of a penalty to Jack Adams). And then to draw a penalty at the end of the penalty-kill was huge.”

Notre Dame graduate-transfer (from Cornell) Matthew Galajda made 23 saves, 12 in the third period with the biggest coming on a penalty shot awarded to Riese Gaber with 9:30 left in regulation, to outduel Driscoll, who also finished with 23 saves.

"I’ve said it the last few weeks — he’s been dialed in,” Jackson said of Galajda. “When he plays the way he’s capable, he plays a quiet game and doesn’t give up a lot of rebounds.”

Freshman defenseman Brent Johnson scored the only goal for coach Brad Berry’s Fighting Hawks (24-14-1), who shared the regular-season National Collegiate Hockey Conference title with Denver. It came at 18:43 of the first period. But Landon Slaggert answered that at 1:03 of the second period off a feed from his brother Graham.

“I thought it was a hard-fought game and I want to congratulate Notre Dame for moving on,” Berry said after the teams’ first-ever NCAA showdown. Notre Dame, still in search of its first NCAA title, now leads the overall series with eight-time NCAA champion North Dakota 18-17 (there have been three ties). 

Notre Dame's Landon Slaggert (19) watches the shot of his brother, Graham, go in the net to defeat North Dakota in overtime, 2-1, in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday night in Albany, N.Y.

The two Slaggerts were on the ice late in the third period killing off a late hooking penalty by Adams when they broke into the North Dakota zone with time running down in the period. Landon outdueled a North Dakota player behind the net for the puck and skated in front to fire a backhander at Driscoll.

The goalie made the save but the rebound bounced into the slot where captain Karashik, a grad-transfer from Connecticut who had five of Notre Dame’s 16 blocked shots, beat the puck into the net for what looked like the game-winner which set off a wild Irish celebration.

“When the green light went on, I assume there was still time left in the clock (when Karashik’s goal went in),” Jackson said. “The light went on — to me that was a goal.”

But after a 13-minute review by referees Geno Binda Jr. and Jeremy Tufts of the Hockey East Association, it was disallowed, and the teams went to their locker rooms tied 1-1 after regulation.

The NCAA released a statement after the game explaining the refs’ decision. 

“The NCAA video replay system includes a burned-in camera view of the scoreboard clock, which is the official timing device,” the statement read. “As many are aware, the ESPN program feed is not the official time. Additionally, the green light to signal the end of play is not an official part of the timing system.

“The overhead view that includes the scoreboard clock, which is synchronized with the video feed, clearly showed the clock expiring before the shot entered the goal. Therefore, the referees determined time had expired and there was no goal scored by Notre Dame.”

So the Irish had to re-focus for overtime. “We were excited getting that goal,” Landon Slaggert said. “When it was called back, we had to regroup. We thought it was in. But you have to bounce back, recollect yourself and get another, and that’s what Graham did tonight.”

Notre Dame's Graham Slaggert during the Wisconsin-Notre Dame Big Ten hockey tournament game on Sunday, March 06, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

When the teams returned to play sudden-victory overtime, the Irish had 26 seconds remaining to kill on Adams’ penalty. But with time running down on that penalty-kill, Graham Slaggert poked the puck to center ice and appeared to have a breakaway attempt before North Dakota Chris Jandric pushed him down with his stick for an interference penalty 14 seconds into overtime.

North Dakota, which had a 27-19 advantage in faceoffs thanks to center Connor Ford’s 15-9 performance to that point, sent Ford out to win the draw against Graham Slaggert. Instead, Slaggert won his eighth (of 18 faceoff attempts) and the Irish controlled the play.

Adams’ penalty ended and the Irish got two shots on goal by Spencer Stastney and Leivermann before Landon Slaggert got the puck back to Leivermann, who found Graham Slaggert along the right boards.

Graham waited until his brother took position in front of Driscoll, skated in and fired a shot that set off Notre Dame’s celebration that finally mattered.

The teams spent most of the first period feeling each other out. Notre Dame had a 5-4 edge in shots on goal, but Johnson’s goal at 18:43 beat a screen Galajda for a 1-0 North Dakota lead after the first period.

But the Hawks’ lead didn’t last long at the start of the second period. North Dakota’s Matteo Costantini made an errant cross-ice pass that was intercepted at the Hawks’ defensive blueline by Landon Slaggert, who skated in, deked Driscoll down and then put a backhander between his pads at 1:04 to tie the game at 1-1.

The Irish would later hold the Fighting Hawks without a shot on goal for 11 minutes and 49 seconds at the end of the second period and beginning of the third. But Driscoll made eight saves on the Irish during that time frame to keep the game at 1-1.

NOTRE DAME 2, NORTH DAKOTA 1 (OT)

NCAA Albany (N.Y.) Regional semifinal at MVP Arena

Notre Dame 0 | 1 | 0 | 1—2

North Dakota 1 | 0 | 0 | 0—1

First Period—Scoring: 1. North Dakota, Brent Johnson 2 (Jackson Kunz, Griffin Ness) EV 18:43. Penalties: Notre Dame 0-0, North Dakota 0-0.

Second Period—Scoring: 2. Notre Dame, Landon Slaggert 12 (unassisted) EV 1:04. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (1-2), North Dakota 1-2 (1-2).

Third Period—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 2-4 (3-6), North Dakota 1-2 (2-4).

Overtime—Scoring: 3. Notre Dame, Graham Slaggert 12 (Nick Leivermann, Graham Slaggert) PP 1:38. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (3-6), North Dakota 1-2 (3-6).

Shots on goal: Notre Dame 25 (5-9-8-3), North Dakota 24 (4-8-12-0). Goalie saves: Notre Dame, Matthew Galajda, 23 (3-8-12-0), North Dakota, Zach Driscoll 23 (5-8-8-2). Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 1 of 3, North Dakota 0 of 3. Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 19 (7-3-8-1), North Dakota 27 (8-12-6-1). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 16 (4-5-7-0), North Dakota 11 (4-3-3-1). Referees: Geno Binda Jr. and Jeremy Tufts. Linesmen: Kevin Briganti and Bill Kingdon. Attendance: 2,345 (14,326). Time: 3:17. Records: Notre Dame 28-11-0, North Dakota 24-14-1.