Notre Dame hockey team escapes, advances with overtime win over Michigan Tech

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Trying to get some fresh legs on the ice late in the first overtime against upset-minded Michigan Tech, No. 2 Notre Dame finally did and senior offensive-minded defenseman Jordan Gross had the Irish doing a victory jig after they escaped a first-round knockout in the NCAA East Regional.

Gross scored his second goal of the game, taking a pass from captain Jake Evans and wristing a hard shot from the point past screened Michigan Tech goalie Packy Munson at 16:24 of the extra session to give the first-seeded Irish a 4-3 victory over the 18th-ranked Huskies at the Webster Bank Arena Friday evening.

“Obviously I wanted to end the game right away,” Gross said. “We stayed calm and played our system, and once we got the puck out of the zone, we did a good job in the offensive zone on the transition.”

Next up for the Irish (26-9-2) is No. 7 Providence (23-11-4), Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. The Friars, seeded second, took out No. 3 seed and ninth-ranked Clarkson, 1-0 in Friday's second semifinal. Michigan Tech closes at 22-17-5.

“I told them after the game they have to quit doing this because I’m 62 and I don’t know how my heart can handle this,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson joked. “But they seem to find a way to score the timely goal.”

Third-line center Jack Jenkins got an assist on Gross’ 10th goal of the season. It came seconds after Jenkins knocked the puck away from Michigan Tech’s Alex Smith who had an open net behind sophomore goalie Cale Morris and the tired Irish in what would be the Huskies’ last gasp.

Morris made two of his four overtime saves during the flurry before Jenkins’ heroics, and Morris finished with 36, while improving to 25-7-1.

“Any time you have that kind of shift,” Jackson said of the Tech attack, “guys are exhausted and we were concerned about that, no question. But we handled it and survived and that’s the only thing that matters to me.”

Gross’ first goal, at 6:19 of the third period on an Irish power play, had given Notre Dame a 3-2 lead. But Michigan Tech sent the game into overtime on Jake Jackson’s goal at 18:54 with Munson on the bench for a sixth attacker.

Dylan Malmquist and Joe Wegwerth had the other goals and Andrew Oglevie had a pair of assists for Notre Dame, which won its 12th in 15 one-goal games this season. The Irish are 3-1-2 in overtime games.

Cam Morrison’s breakaway attempt finally allowed Jackson to get relief for his skaters, and though he didn’t beat Munson, Morrison’s rush allowed Gross and others to get on the ice and finish off the Huskies. Munson’s stop on Morrison was the last of his 28 saves, eight of which came in the extra session that Notre Dame dominated, 9-4. For the game, Tech had a 39-32 shot advantage, the 25th time in 37 games Notre Dame has been outshot.

“We were fortunate to get that breakaway and Cam had good hustle to get the puck into the zone,” Gross said. “Their players also may have tired from such a long o(ffensive) zone shift.”

Linemates Joel L’Esperance and Gavin Gould had the other goals and their center Jake Lucchini and defender Seamus Donohue had two assists for the Huskies, who had won of five of six road playoff games in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs to get into the NCAA tournament.

“That was a fun game to be part of,” Michigan Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. “They are a great team. I love our team; very proud of our group.”

Notre Dame came out strong in the first period and midway through had a 5-0 advantage in shots. But Michigan Tech carried the play for most of the second half of the period that ended scoreless. Morris, a finalist for both the Hobey Baker (outstanding player) and Mike Richter (outstanding goalie) awards, made a sprawling save on Tom Beretta’s point-blank shot at 15:21 of the period.

Early in the second period, Michigan Tech defenseman Seamus Donohue made a great pass from his zone to the 6-foot-2, 210-pound L’Esperance. After shrugging off Gross, L’Esperance flipped a shot over Morris’ glove high into the net at 1:13 for a 1-0 lead.

The Irish finally settled in to score goals by junior left wings Malmquist and Wegwerth for a 2-1 lead.

Malmquist began the play on his goal by digging the puck off the boards and shoveling it behind the Michigan Tech net. After he did, Malmquist broke for the net. Munson anticipated the puck going completely behind him and left the left side of the net uncovered just as the puck took a crazy misdirection after Oglevie got a piece of it with his stick. Malmquist deposited the puck behind the stunned Munson at 3:40 for his eighth goal of the season.

Sophomore third-line center Mike O’Leary kept the puck inside the offensive zone and fired it toward the net where freshman Colin Theisen backhanded a pass to Wegwerth, who batted the puck out of the air for a 2-1 Irish lead at 7:04. It stayed that way to the intermission despite Tech outshooting the Irish 17-6.

Tech tied it 56 seconds into the third period after leading scorer Jake Lucchini fooled Notre Dame defenseman Dennis Gilbert with a nifty stickhandling effort and put a shot on net. Morris made the save but the 5-foot-8 Gould jumped on the rebound.

Notre Dame got two power-play opportunities in the next four minutes. On the second one, Oglevie slipped the puck back to Gross, who shoveled it over to Nardella and then got a return pass. From mid-point, Gross fired through a maze of players and Evans provided a partial screen on the goal at 6:19 that put the Irish up 3-2.

It looked like the Irish might escape further damage. But at 18:43, Shawhan pulled Munson for a sixth attacker, and Jackson’s game-tying goal at 18:54 beat Morris under his blocker.

Notre Dame players celebrate their win in overtime of an NCAA college hockey regional tournament game against Michigan Tech, Friday in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/JESSICA HILLl)