Hockey: Leivermann’s return, Bischel’s 30 saves help Notre Dame blank Western Michigan

John Fineran

SOUTH BEND — The No. 12 Notre Dame hockey team played its most complete game of the young season Friday night, and the post-game smile of veteran coach Jeff Jackson spoke volumes as his Fighting Irish skated to a 2-0 victory over No. 17 Western Michigan.

“That was our best performance of the year; they’re a legitimate Top 10 team,” said Jackson after Irish goalie Ryan Bischel made 30 saves against one of the nation’s best offensive teams which was riding a four-game winning streak that included an 8-2 rout at Bowling Green, was averaging 4.6 goals a game and had a power-play clicking at 37.5 percent.

Notre Dame got even-strength goals in the second period by grad defenseman and captain Nick Leivermann and sophomore left wing Justin Janicke in winning for the third straight time after opening the season with a 5-2 loss at then No. 1 Denver and 5-5 tie at Air Force in the season-opening Ice Breaker Tournament.

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Grad center Chayse Primeau, a transfer from Omaha, had an assist on both goals.

Western Michigan, which got 30 saves from junior goaltender Cameron Rowe, a transfer from Wisconsin, fell to 4-2-0 heading into tonight’s return match at Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo.

“Tonight was important because that’s a tough place to play tomorrow,” Jackson added. 

Leivermann was playing in his first game of the season after sitting out the first four games with an upper-body injury. His presence was immediately felt, settling the Irish defense in front of Bischel, who record his third career shutout.

“It’s nice having (Leivermann) back because he gives us confidence on the back end,” Bischel said. 

Notre Dame's Nick Leivermann shoots the puck during the Western Michigan-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Friday, October 21, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Leivermann returned the compliment when talking about his goaltender, who won for the third straight time after the Irish swept Northern Michigan last weekend.

“That was awesome — it’s what he (Bischel) expects and what we expect of him every single night,” Leivermann said.

The Broncos had the game’s first two shots which Bischel turned aside as his teammates got their legs underneath them.

An Irish power play when Western had two many men on the ice at 5:12 resulted in only one shot on goal, but Notre Dame came out of it with momentum. Western would only have two more shots the rest of the period — at 10:47 and 19:50 — which Bischel turned aside with ease. 

The Irish finished with a 14-4 edge in shots, taking five of them during their second power play of the night with Western defender Carter Berger in the box for holding. But Rowe stopped five shots by Leivermann, defenseman Drew Bavaro and wingmates Landon Slaggert and Ryder Rolston (two).

Notre Dame's Ryan Bischel in goal during the Western Michigan-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Friday, October 21, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

The Broncos upped their game in the second period, outshooting the Irish 15-10. But Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead to the locker room after the period on goals by Leivermann at 7:37 and Justin Janicke at 18:13.

Both goals came after Bischel withstood serious pressure from the Broncos. The Irish goalie stopped four Western shots and another hit the pipe as his teammates killed off an interference penalty on Bavaro at 5:12.

After the penalty was killed off, Leivermann whistled a shot from the point past Rowe at 7:37 after being set up by Trevor Janicke and Primeau.

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Bischel then made three more saves after the goal and the Irish got some momentum late when Western was on a line change. Three Irish players came up with a loose puck and Rowe first stopped a shot by Zach Plucinski. Primeau got a rebound in front and hit the pipe at 18:13, but Justin Janicke got the carom and buried a backhander at 18:13 to give the Irish a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.

Bischel then denied four shots on another Western power play early in the third period with Jake Boltmann off for roughing at 0:39. 

The Irish missed a chance to make it 3-0 when Justin Janicke broke free down the slot but shot it wide at 15:23. Then at 16:45, Bischel made a glove save on Western’s Ryan McAllister. 

Western coach Pat Ferschweiler elected to pull Rowe from the net before the faceoff. But Bischel stood tall, making five saves as his teammates had trouble clearing the zone. 

Notre Dame’s Solag Bakich finally did but was called for hooking at 19:54. But it was too little, too late for Western.


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

Western Michigan000— 0
Notre Dame020— 2

First Period—Scoring: None. Penalties: Western Michigan 2-4, Notre Dame 0-0.

Second Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Nick Leivermann 1 (Trevor Janicke, Chayse Primeau) EV 7:37. 2. Notre Dame, Justin Janicke 1 (Chayse Primeau, Zach Plucinski) EV 18:12. Penalties (total): Western Michigan 0-0 (2-4), Notre Dame 2-4 (2-4).

Third Period—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Western Michigan 1-2 (3-6), Notre Dame 2-4 (4-8).

Shots on goal: Western Michigan 30 (4-15-11), Notre Dame 32 (14-10-8). Goalie saves: Western Michigan, Cameron Rowe 30 (14-8-8); Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 30 (4-15-11).

Power-play opportunities: Western Michigan 0 of 4, Notre Dame 0 of 3. Faceoffs won: Western Michigan 21 (5-9-7), Notre Dame 26 (4-11-11). Blocked shots: Western Michigan 8 (5-2-1), Notre Dame 13 (2-6-5). 

Referees: Jonathan Sitarski and Brian Hankes. Linesmen: Nick Huff and Dan Cohen. Attendance: 5,096 (4,850).

Records: Western Michigan 4-2-0, Notre Dame 3-1-1.