Irish use power play to sweep Badgers but lose Rolston to injury
SOUTH BEND – Just when Notre Dame’s power play appears to be getting healthy, the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish, who completed a Big Ten weekend sweep of visiting Wisconsin with a 3-1 victory Saturday night inside the sold-out Compton Family Ice Arena, have real injury concerns with six games in the regular season remaining.
Junior right wing Ryder Rolston, one of the team’s leading goal scorers and an integral part of the power-play unit, had his right shoulder wrapped following the game in which he did not return after taking contact to his head from Wisconsin defenseman Luke LaMaster late in the first period.
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Rolston said the injury was a broken collarbone and that he would require season-ending surgery. An official announcement is expected Monday from Notre Dame.
“We were playing basically three lines in the third period,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said after Notre Dame’s first sweep since October. “We had three or four injuries, but I don’t want to advertise that to the next opponent.”
That would be Michigan State, which fell behind Notre Dame into a fifth-place tie with Michigan with 24 points, two fewer than Notre Dame (13-12-3 overall, 8-8-2 Big Ten) which is now a point behind second-place Ohio State and Penn State. The struggling Spartans, who were swept 8-0 and 6-3 by No. 2 Minnesota, the runaway league-leader with 43 points, will host the Irish Friday night at 7 and Saturday afternoon at 4 in the Munn Ice Arena.
After scoring two power-play goals in Friday’s 5-3 victory over the last-place Badgers (10-16-0, 3-13-0 Big Ten for 9 points), Notre Dame scored all three of its goals with the man-advantage as Wisconsin was whistled nine times for 32 penalty minutes.
LaMaster, whose first five-minute major sidelined Rolston for the evening at 17:23 of the first period, received a second contact-to-the-head major and a game misconduct at 15:31 of the third period. There were 16 penalties totaling 46 minutes called against the two teams, but the Irish, who had seven penalties for 14 minutes, kept their composure for the most part.
Junior forward Landon Slaggert, sophomore center Hunter Strand and grad defenseman Chase Blackmun, a Wisconsin native, scored the Irish goals before 5,022 watching around the Lefty Smith Rink. Senior goalie Ryan Bischel made 28 saves to outduel Wisconsin’s Jared Moe, who had 26.
Moe was on the bench and the Irish were on a penalty kill when Bischel lost his shutout at 14:46 of the third period on a goal by Brock Caufield as Badgers coach Tony Granato elected to go with a 6-on-4 attack.
The sweep for Notre Dame was only its second of the season but first in the Big Ten, and it ended a string of eight straight splits. On Oct. 14 and 16, the Irish swept a non-conference series from visiting Northern Michigan by scores of 3-1 and 5-4.
“The power play has helped us a lot the last couple of weeks, which is really important because it hurt us a lot the last couple of months,” Jackson added. “Our penalty-kill did a great job, too. That’s not much you can do with the goalie pulled.”
The sweep was just what the Irish needed, according to grad captain Nick Leivermann, who had two assists Saturday and one on Friday after he was sidelined with an upper-body injury for four games.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve lacked this year is 60 minutes each night,” Leivermann said. “We’ve played well at times, but we’ve also had times where we’ve kind of fell asleep and that bites us in the butt. We didn’t have that this weekend.”
On Saturday, Leivermann’s patience and rink awareness produced a shot from the point that was tipped by Slaggert, who has struggled scoring goals. His third goal of the season came at 12:10 of the first period. The scoring play started with a hustling assist from Rolston.
“(Leivermann’s) play speaks for itself — it’s awesome having him back in the lineup,” Slaggert said. “With his leadership role, he really drives the team. It’s awesome having him back and getting the sweep which we desperately needed.”
The Irish took advantage of another Wisconsin penalty in the second period when Charlie Stramel cross-checked Notre Dame center Jackson Pierson at 10:21. There were 10 seconds remaining on the penalty when Strand gathered up his own rebound off a mad scramble in front of Moe and scored at 12:14. Jesse Lansdell and Drew Bavaro received assists on the goal which sent the Irish into the third period up 2-0.
Then with Wisconsin’s 6-foot-5 Carson Bantle off for elbowing at 4:30 of the third, Notre Dame’s Chayse Primeau won a draw back to Leivermann, who saw Blackmun streaking down right wing and fed him the puck. Blackmun, who grew up in Hudson, a 3½-hour drive northwest of Madison, beat Moe at 4:36 for the final Irish goal.
“This (sweep) couldn’t have come at a better time,” Leivermann said. “Everything seems to be clicking. We just have to keep going.”
NOTRE DAME 3, WISCONSIN 1
At Lefty Smith Rink in Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend
First Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Landon Slaggert 3 (Nick Leivermann, Ryder Rolston) PP 12:10. Penalties: Wisconsin 3-9, Notre Dame 1-2.
Second Period—Scoring: 2. Notre Dame, Hunter Strand 4 (Jesse Lansdell, Drew Bavaro) PP 12:14. Penalties (total): Wisconsin 2-4 (5-13), Notre Dame 2-4 (3-6).
Third Period—Scoring: 3. Notre Dame, Chase Blackmun 2 (Nick Leivermann, Chayse Primeau) PP 4:36. 4. Wisconsin, Brock Caufield 8 (Carson Bantle, Cruz Lucius) PP/EA 14:46. Penalties (total): Wisconsin 4-19 (9-32), Notre Dame 4-8 (7-14).
Shots on goal: Wisconsin 29 (9-12-8), Notre Dame 29 (9-14-6). Goalie saves: Wisconsin, Jared Moe 26 (8-13-5), Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 28 (9-12-7).
Power-play opportunities: Wisconsin 1 of 4, Notre Dame 3 of 7. Faceoffs won: Wisconsin 26 (10-8-8), Notre Dame 28 (8-9-11). Blocked shots: Wisconsin 13 (1-7-5), Notre Dame 9 (2-5-2).
Referees: David Marcotte and Barry Pochmara. Linesmen: Pat Richardson and Nicholas Bet. Attendance: 5,022 (4,852). Records: Wisconsin 10-16-0, 3-13-0 Big Ten for 9 points; Notre Dame 13-12-3, 8-8-2 Big Ten for 26 points.
Saturday’s results: Notre Dame 3, Wisconsin 1; Minnesota 6, Michigan State 3; Michigan 5, Penn State 4.
Standings:1.Minnesota 14-3-1, 43 points (20-7-1); 2T. Ohio State 9-7-0, 27 points (16-9-1) and Penn State 8-9-1, 27 points (18-9-1); 4. Notre Dame 8-8-2, 26 points (13-12-3); 5T. Michigan 8-8-0, 24 points (16-9-1) and Michigan State 7-9-2, 24 points (13-13-2); 7. Wisconsin 3-13-0, 9 points (10-16-0).
Friday, Feb. 3 games: Notre Dame at Michigan State, 7 p.m.; Penn State at Ohio State, 7 p.m.; Wisconsin at Michigan, 7 p.m.