Irish finally click on power play as Burke’s OT goal beats Northern, 2-1

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

 SOUTH BEND — Cal Burke made sure Notre Dame’s seventh power-play opportunity would be a successful last one Tuesday night against Northern Michigan.

 The junior right wing fired a rebound of Dylan Malmquist’s shot that went off teammate Cam Morrison’s chest past Wildcat goaltender Atte Tolvanen at 1:06 of overtime to give the No. 8 Irish a 2-1 non-conference hockey victory.

ND's fourth win in a row came in front of 3,241 at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Notre Dame (8-4-1) went scoreless on its first six power-play opportunities, three in the final 20 minutes of regulation during which the Irish outshot the Wildcats 15-3. Tolvanen, a senior from Vihti, Finland, made 33 saves, all in regulation.

“It was a little frustrating but at least we got one at the end,” said Burke whose 10-footer from the slot was his eighth of the season. “It was a good bounce for us. Sometimes the goals you score come on weird bounces. Hockey can be like that.”

Irish junior Cale Morris finished with 18 saves on a night that his teammates outshot the visitors 35-19 in large part because of Northern Michigan’s penalties.

“It was not for a lack of effort … tonight I thought we had several good scoring chances (on the power plays) and just missed,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said after winning his 304th game at Notre Dame to move within three of tying Smith’s school-record total. “Finally getting one will be good for their confidence.”

Northern Michigan coach Grant Potulny and his staff were not too pleased with the 7-2 power-play edge the Irish enjoyed and let the officiating crew know about it as the teams exchanged handshakes afterward.

The Irish led 1-0 after the first period on freshman Alex Steeves’ third goal of the season with 44 seconds remaining. The Wildcats tied it at 19:39 of the second period on the second of their two power-play chances with Darien Craighead’s sixth goal of the season.

Notre Dame’s first goal of the game came when junior defenseman and captain Andrew Peeke found sophomore left wing Colin Theisen at center ice and the Irish left wing turned on his jets to carry the puck deep into the zone. As he passed the net, Theisen shoveled the puck back to Steeves, whose backhander beat Tolvanen at 19:16.

Burke, who had six shots on net, was denied by Tolvanen on a semi-breakaway in the first minute of the second period and then Morris covered Vincent De Mey’s deflection from the slot at 1:24.

The Irish had a pair of power-play opportunities and came up empty on both. They had four shots on the first one with Burke’s shot from the slot deflected wide. Tolvanen then made a right-pad save on Alex Steeves after that penalty ended.

Almost 10 minutes later, the Irish got their second man-advantage of the period and Tolvanen stopped Peeke’s blast from the point at 18:03 and Northern Michigan eventually killed the penalty off in the final minute.

Fourteen seconds after it ended, Notre Dame’s Michael Graham went off for hooking in the Irish zone at 19:32. Seven seconds later, Craighead’s slapper beat Morris high to the glove side to tie the game.

Tolvanen again stopped Burke in close in the first minute of the third period, and he stopped Burke a minute later and watched as Malmquist whistled the rebound wide.

The Irish got their fourth power-play opportunity when Adam Rockwood went off for tripping at 8:02. Tolvanen stopped Matt Hellickson’s wrister from the point, and then Peeke couldn’t get enough on a feed from Morrison. After the penalty expired, Spencer Stastney fed Graham in close, but Tolvanen stopped that shot at 10:46.

The fifth power-play chance came at 14:22 when Caleb Schroer went off for hooking. Morrison deflected Bobby Nardella’s blast over the net, Burke fired wide after a nice feed from Morrison and then an unguarded Morrison deflected Peeke’s feed out of play at 15:29.

The sixth chance came at 17:30 when defenseman Ryan Black of the Wildcats was whistled for an indirect contact to the head. Morrison had two shots in close but Tolvanen denied them both.

Prior to the game, Jackson presented Northern Michigan defenseman Tony Bretzman, a graduate transfer from Notre Dame, with his Big Ten championship ring.

The Irish return to the Smith Rink ice Friday and Saturday nights at 7 to play RPI. Notre Dame returns to Big Ten action Dec. 7-8 at Penn State to conclude the first semester. Northern Michigan (6-9) had a 10-hour bus trip afterward to Marquette where it begins a home-and-home WCHA series with Michigan Tech Friday night.