Notre Dame skaters earn split after Bischel shuts down Ohio State 1-0 with 37 saves

John Fineran
Correspondent
Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel, shown earlier this month at Compton Family Ice Arena, made 37 saves Saturday night against Ohio State. (Photo: John Mersits, South Bend Tribune)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Following last hockey season, there wasn’t a doubt in the mind of coach Jeff Jackson that Notre Dame’s goaltending position was in the capable hands of returning senior Ryan Bischel.

Early Saturday evening at Ohio State’s Value City Arena, the 6-foot-1 Minnesota native again backed up his coach’s faith. Bischel turned away 37 shots, including three in the final two seconds of a 19-save third period, as the No. 20 Fighting Irish made Jack Adams’ early first-period goal stand up for a 1-0 victory over the No. 13 Buckeyes and a split of the teams’ Big Ten Conference series.

“This was a tough, gritty win for us,” Jackson said of the triumph which came less than 24 hours after coach Steve Rohlik’s Buckeyes earned a 5-2 victory. “Any time you can shut out a team that has that much firepower, it’s a true sign of defending well.

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“I thought Ryan Bischel played extremely well,” Jackson continued. “Our goaltender was the difference in this game.”

It was the third shutout of the season and fifth of the career for Bischel, who sat out the last 11 games of last season when Jackson elected to go with his hotter goaltender entering the late season and postseason, grad-transfer (from Cornell) Matthew Galajda. Notre Dame reached the championship game of the NCAA Albany (N.Y.) Regional before losing to NCAA runner-up Minnesota State, 1-0, to finish 28-12.

After starting slowly this season and being pulled for freshman Jack Williams early in Notre Dame’s 5-5 tie during the second game of the season at Air Force, Jackson has stayed with Bischel. The goaltender responded with a pair of victories over Northern Michigan and then followed with a 2-0 shutout of Western Michigan Oct. 21. One week later, Bischel blanked Michigan State 5-0.

After Saturday’s performance, which improved Notre Dame to 6-6-2 overall and 3-4-1 in the Big Ten for 9 points, Bischel improved his goals-against average to 2.46 and his saves percentage rose to .929. His three shutouts are one short of the national lead held by Michigan Tech’s Blake Pietila.

Typical of Bischel, he passed off the credit to his teammates for their play against the Buckeyes, who fell to 8-5-1 overall and remained fourth in the Big Ten with 12 points from their 4-4-0 record. After being outshot by Notre Dame 32-26 in its Friday victory, Ohio State turned the tables on the Irish, outshooting them 37-18 including 19-3 in the final 20 minutes.

But led by Notre Dame defenseman Ryan Helliwell’s six blocks and three each by defenseman Nick Leivermann and center Jackson Pierson, Notre Dame stopped another 18 shots from getting to their goaltender.

“The guys did a great job in front of me just competing and blocking shots,” Bischel noted. “That was huge for us. It got us a win which we needed.”

The Irish got the only goal they needed against Ohio State’s 6-foot-4 sophomore goalie Jakub Dobeš of the Czech Republic at the 2:37 mark of the first period. Leivermann skated out along the right boards and centered a cross-ice pass to fellow graduate defenseman Chase Blackmun. Blackmun then sent a shot toward the net that the 6-foot-6 Adams, a second-year grad-transfer from Union and Providence, directed in for his first goal of the season.

“It’s not that often that that happens early in the game and it ends up being the game-winner,” Jackson said. “It was a big goal for us, obviously. Jack is coming off being ill, and that line (centered by sophomore center Tyler Carpenter with 6-foot-4 freshman left wing Niko Jovanovic) played well for us.”

Dobeš denied Trevor Janicke’s backhander in the final minute of the first period after Notre Dame successfully killed off two penalties despite a 13-7 deficit in shots. Neither team could mount much offense in a penalty-filled second period which ended with the Irish outshooting the Buckeyes 8-5.

But Ohio State controlled the third period from the start, getting the first six shots on net against Bischel before Chayse Primeau’s shot at Dobeš interrupted the Buckeye flow at 8:55. Notre Dame’s other shots in the period came off the sticks of Landon Slaggert (at 11:15) and Helliwell (at 15:26). 

Rohlik pulled Dobeš at 17:16 and Ohio State kept the pressure on Bischel. In the final minute, Bischel turned aside shots by Stephen Halliday (19:16) and Travis Treloar (19:58) and follow-up rebounds by Jake Wise and Mason Lohrei before the final buzzer sounded.

Notre Dame will have a short week of practice before departing Tuesday for Boston to play games at No. 9 Boston University Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Boston College Friday at 4 p.m.

NOTRE DAME 1, OHIO STATE 0

At Value City Arena in Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio

Notre Dame  1-0-0—1 

Ohio State     0-0-0—0        

First Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Jack Adams 1 (Chase Blackmun, Nick Leivermann) EV 2:37. Penalties: Notre Dame 2-4, Ohio State 0-0.

Second Period—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 2-4 (4-8), Ohio State 4-8 (4-8).

Third Period—Scoring: None Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (4-8), Ohio State 0-0 (4-8).

Shots on goal: Notre Dame 18 (7-8-3), Ohio State 37 (13-5-19). Goalie saves: Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 37 (13-5-19), Ohio State, Jakub Dobeš 17 (6-8-3).

Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 0 of 3, Ohio State 0 of 3. Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 28 (9-10-9), Ohio State 31 (10-9-12). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 18 (5-6-7), Ohio State 10 (3-6-1).

Referees: Tony Czech and Barry Pochmara. Linesmen: Samuel Shikowsky and Pat Richardson. Attendance: 4,381 (18,809). Records: Notre Dame 6-6-2 (3-4-1-1-0-0 Big Ten for 9 points); Ohio State 8-5-1 (4-4-0-0-0-0 Big Ten for 12 points).