Notre Dame hockey's Lansdell, Bavaro co-produce weird end to 5-4 victory

John Fineran
Correspondent
Mar 14, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre DameÕs Jesse Lansdell (14) celebrates after a goal against Penn State at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune-USA TODAY NETWORK

SOUTH BEND — Crazy things tend to happen in hockey games when you least expect them, so it wasn’t surprising that Sunday’s 5-4 victory by No. 13 Notre Dame over No. 20 Northern Michigan at the Compton Family Ice Arena had its share of oddities.

For instance, you don’t often see an empty-net goal end up being the eventual game-winner. But such was the case for Notre Dame senior right wing Jesse Lansdell, whose 120-foot wrister into the vacated Northern net at 19:03 of the third period came 81 seconds after the power-play goal by junior defenseman Drew Bavaro, a transfer from Bentley, appeared to be the game-winner that would give coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish (2-1-1) their second two-goal lead of the game and a weekend sweep of the Wildcats (3-3-0).

But coach Grant Potulny’s team from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula didn’t go quietly into the early Sunday evening as freshman Connor Eddy beat Irish senior netminder Ryan Bischel at 19:22 to close the gap to 5-4. When the final buzzer sounded, Bischel, who finished with 22 saves after turning aside 36 shots in Friday’s 3-1 victory, and the Irish, who outshot their visitors 47-26, finally could breathe knowing they wouldn’t give their 67-year-old head coach any more grey hairs and whiskers.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be (the game-winner),” Lansdell said. “We still won, so I’m happy with that. We’ve made huge jumps from last weekend and the weekend before. We had some real holes in our game. We’ve made some huge improvements, particularly in (our) penalty kill and 5-on-5, but we still have more areas in which we have to improve.”

Game 1:Notre Dame skates past Northern Michigan in home hockey opener at the Compton

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Lansdell will get no argument from Jackson, whose team can work through mid-semester break before playing NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) power Western Michigan in a home-and-home series which starts Friday at 7 p.m. at the Lefty Smith Rink and concludes Saturday at 6 in Kalamazoo.

“The positive after last weekend is that our penalty kill has started to come together for the most part,” Jackson noted after the Irish did not allow a power-play goal for the first time this season, blanking Northern on its four chances by allowing just four shots. 

For good measure, the Irish shorthanded units also added a goal when senior Solag Bakich broke in alone on Charlie Glockner, Northern’s starting goalie, after some tenacious work by his penalty-kill partner Landon Slaggert and gave the Irish a 2-1 lead at 18:08 of the first period. 

That goal effectively ended Glockner’s night. When the second period began, Potulny put Beni Halasz between the pipes and the 6-foot freshman from Hungary, though also allowing two goals, would stop 15 Irish shots in the second period and 16 more in the third.

“That kid in the net (Halasz) played really well,” Jackson continued. “We couldn’t put them away. We had opportunities. We just have to find a way to finish.”

Northern jumped ahead 1-0 at 8:14 of the first period when Kristof Papp got behind Bavaro and ignored the Irish defenseman’s hook to beat Bischel. But Notre Dame answered at 17:02 when junior left wing Grant Silianoff scored on a feed from Lansdell and beat Glockner from a bad angle along the goal line. Bakich’s short-handed goal came 66 seconds later with Irish defender Ben Brinkman was in the box for boarding.

The Irish made it 3-1 at 4:41 of the second period when junior right wing Ryder Rolston used his quickness to steal the puck and get around Northern defenseman Simon Kjellberg before firing a quick wrister from 30 feet past the stunned Halasz. But the goalie then stoned the Irish on a couple of power-play opportunities to allow his teammates to tie it with goals by Artem Shlaine (8:40 of the second period) and Andre Ghantous (11:40 of the third).

Then Bavaro, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., showed off the offensive skills he had honed as Bentley’s leading scorer. With Irish captain Nick Leivermann still sidelined with an undisclosed injury, Bavaro is the only defenseman on the power-play unit that includes Slaggert, his linemates Rolston and Jackson Pierson (a former Culver Military standout and grad-student transfer from New Hampshire) and senior right wing Trevor Janicke. 

“We have really good forwards, probably the best I’ve ever played with,” said Bavaro, who had a two-point night as did Rolston and Lansdell and now has six points (one goal and five assists) in four games. “It’s really easy for me to stay on top and pass the puck. Ryder has a gun and J.P. (Pierson) is one of the most creative players in the country. I just give it to those guys and let them go to work.”

Which is what they did when Shlaine was whistled to the box for tripping at 16:56 of the third period. Rolston got the puck over to Pierson, who fed it back to the middle point for Bavaro, whose blast got past a Slaggert screen on Halasz at 17:42, much to the relief of his teammates and the 3,521 fans at Compton.

Bavaro’s goal might have even put a smile on the face of former Irish All-America tight end Mark Bavaro, who is no relation. “I’ve been asked it (if they are related) tons, especially since I’ve been here,” he said. “My dad says it’s distant-distant-distant down the line, but our families don’t really connect.”

Maybe a “family” reunion can be arranged in April in Tampa, the site of this season’s NCAA Frozen Four. Who knows? Crazy things do happen in hockey.

NOTRE DAME 5, NORTHERN MICHIGAN 4

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

Northern Michigan   1-1-2—4 

Notre Dame              2-1-2—5

 First Period—Scoring: 1. Northern Michigan, Kristof Papp 1 (unassisted) EV 8:14. 2. Notre Dame, Grant Silianoff 1 (Jesse Lansdell) EV 17:02. 3. Notre Dame, Solag Bakich 2 (Graham Slaggert) SH 18:08. Penalties: Northern Michigan 1-2, Notre Dame 2-4.

  Second Period—Scoring: 4. Notre Dame, Ryder Rolston 3 (unassisted) EV 4:42. 5. Northern Michigan, Artem Shlaine 3 (Joey Larson, Kristof Papp) EV 8:40. Penalties (total): Northern Michigan 2-4 (3-6), Notre Dame 0-0 (2-4).

 Third Period—Scoring: 6. Northern Michigan Andre Ghantous 2 (AJ Vanderbeck, David Keefer) EV 11:40. 7. Notre Dame, Drew Bavaro 1 (Jackson Pierson, Ryder Rolston) PP 17:42. 8. Notre Dame, Jesse Lansdell 1 (Drew Bavaro, Jake Boltmann) EN 19:03. 9. Northern Michigan, Connor Eddy 1 (Zach Michaelis, Reilly Funk) EV 19:22. Penalties (total): Northern Michigan 3-14 (6-10), Notre Dame 2-4 (4-8).

Shots on goal: Northern Michigan 26 (7-6-13), Notre Dame 47 (13-16-18). Goalie saves: Northern Michigan (42), Charlie Glockner 11 (11-x-x) and Beni Halasz 31 (x-15-16); Notre Dame (11), Ryan Bischel 22 (6-5-11).

Power-play opportunities: Northern Michigan 0 of 4, Notre Dame 1 of 5. Faceoffs won: Northern Michigan 31 (12-6-13), Notre Dame 37 (8-14-15). Blocked shots: Northern Michigan 16 (3-9-4), Notre Dame 15 (4-2-9). 

Referees: Joseph Carusone and Kenny Anderson. Linesmen: Justin Cornell and Riley Bowles. Attendance: 3,521 (4,850). Records: Northern Michigan 3-3-0, Notre Dame 2-1-1.