Dominant UMass ends Notre Dame hockey season with 4-0 victory

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

MANCHESTER, N.H. — No. 12 Notre Dame saw its cardiac hockey season flat-lined Saturday night in an impressive second-period performance by No. 4 Massachusetts in the NCAA Northeast Regional championship game.

Jeff Jackson’s youthful Irish — riding a five-game winning streak, the last three of which were one-goal victories, two of them in overtime — fell 4-0 to the Minutemen, their former rivals from Hockey East. Skating seven freshmen against UMass, Big Ten Tournament champion Notre Dame finished its 14th season under Jackson at 23-14-3.

The Minutemen, 30-9 under third-year coach Greg Garvel, punched their ticket to a first-ever Frozen Four semifinal appearance April 11 at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center by scoring three goals in a span of seven minutes of the second period they dominated with a 16-2 edge in shots.

A power-play marker by Jake Gaudet (7:49) was followed by even-strength goals by John Leonard (10:32) and sophomore defenseman Cale Makar (14:49). Makar, a Hobey Baker Award finalist from Calgary, Alberta, is expected to turn pro with the Colorado Avalanche when the UMass season ends, possibly in the NCAA title game April 13.

Notre Dame junior goaltender Cale Morris was busy from the start and finished with 30 saves. UMass goaltender Filip Lindberg, a freshman from Finland, needed just 13 saves to blank Notre Dame after making 17 saves in a 4-0 shutout of Harvard Friday night.

Notre Dame had won five straight games in the SNHU Arena, where 5,679 turned out for the game played just a two-hour drive northeast of the UMass campus in Amherst. The Irish were hoping to add a third Frozen Four appearance from the Northeast Regional after advancing in 2011 and 2017.

But a third-straight Frozen Four appearance and the fifth in Jackson’s 14 seasons in South Bend was not to be as the Minutemen dominated from the opening faceoff to the final horn.

The Irish, who got the first nine shots on goal in the first 14 minutes in Friday’s 3-2 overtime victory over Clarkson, started slowly against the much quicker Minutemen. Through the first 14 minutes Saturday, UMass had 10 shots at Morris while Notre Dame managed just five against Lindberg.

Notre Dame got some good pressure in the 16th minute with pressure and good possession from junior center Mike O’Leary and linemates Michael Graham and Cam Morrison, who had the game-winners against Penn State and Clarkson. Lindberg withstood some last-minute pressure by Notre Dame and finished with six saves, half of Morris’ total during a scoreless and penalty-less first period.

The final two periods belonged to the Minutemen.

The first penalty of the game came at 7:13 of the second period when Graham was whistled for hooking, putting the nation’s No. 2 power-play unit on the ice. A half-minute into the penalty, a dump-in pass by UMass defenseman Mario Ferraro hit a linesman and the puck careened over to Gaudet, who whistled a shot quickly past a surprised Morris at 7:49.

Then after killing off a hooking penalty to Marc Del Gaizo, UMass turned up the pressure in the Irish zone. Brett Boeing fired a shot on net that Morris saved, but an unguarded Leonard swooped in and tucked the puck past the goalie’s left skate at 10:32 for a 2-0 lead.

UMass had an 8-1 edge in shots when it got another power-play opportunity with Irish defenseman Andrew Peeke going off for high sticking at 12:47. Morris turned away four shots during the two minutes. But two seconds after the penalty ended, Makar made it 3-0 when his blast beat the beleaguered Morris over his blocker at 14:49.

Needing to score goals late, Jackson pulled Morris at 15:05 of the third period and UMass scored an empty goal by Oliver Chau at 17:27.

It was the last game representing Notre Dame for senior forwards Dylan Malmquist and Jack Jenkins (another, Joe Wegwerth, has been sidelined after ACL knee surgery in January) and defenseman Bobby Nardella. Morris, who is a free agent, and Peeke, whose NHL draft rights belong to Columbus, could be tempted to leave after their junior seasons for the professional ranks.

The senior class, which became the first one in Notre Dame hockey history to earn four NCAA berths, went to two straight Frozen Fours (the Irish lost 2-1 to Minnesota Duluth last season in Saint Paul, Minn.) and was 2-for-2 in Big Ten Tournament championship games.

MASSACHUSETTS 4, NOTRE DAME 0

At SNHU Arena, Manchester, N.H.

Notre Dame;0;0;0—0

Massachusetts;0;3;1—4

First Period—Scoring: none. Penalties: Notre Dame 0-0, Massachusetts 0-0.

Second Period—Scoring: 1. Massachusetts, Jake Gaudet 7 (Mario Ferraro, Ty Farmer) 7:49 (ppg); 2. Massachusetts, John Leonard 14 (Brett Boeing, Niko Hildenbrand) 10:32 (even); 3. Massachusetts, Cale Makar 16 (Marc Del Gaizo, Jake Gaudet) 14:49. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 3-6 (3-6), Massachusetts 3-6 (3-6).

Third Period— Scoring: none. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (4-8), Massachusetts 0-0 (3-6).

Power-play opportunities—Notre Dame 0 of 2, Massachusetts 1 of 3.

Shots on goal—Notre Dame 6-2-5—13, Massachusetts 12-16-6—34.

Goalie saves—Notre Dame, Cale Morris 12-13-5—30, Massachusetts, Filip Lindberg 6-2-5—13.

Faceoffs—Notre Dame 11-10-9—30, Massachusetts 10-10-7—27.

Blocked shots—Notre Dame 6-1-4—11, Massachusetts 3-4-2—9.

A—5,679. Records: Notre Dame 23-14-3, Massachusetts 30-9.

Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris drops to his knees as the puck passes through his legs on a goal by Massachusetts forward Jake Gaudet in the 4-0 Irish loss.