Crisp Win Sends Notre Dame to Final
by Caleb Saunders/CHN Reporter
DETROIT Notre Dame has, at times, struggled for consistency this season. But with everything on the line in Saturday's CCHA semifinal, the Irish put it all together. Using a stifling defense and a strong power play, Notre Dame defeated Ohio State, 3-1, and secured both a bid in the 42nd and last CCHA championship game, and an NCAA bid.
The strategy from the start was to get as many pucks as possible on Ohio State’s Brady Hjelle and to stay hard on the puck, according to Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. On that score, Jackson was pleased.
“I felt we played a good 60-minute hockey game,” said Jackson. “Tonight we took advantage of the opportunities to get the puck to the net.”
The game was closely fought, and tied after two periods, with Ohio State's Hjelle living up to billing as one of the top goaltender's in the nation. And despite being outshot significantly, Ohio State certainly had its chances.
But Notre Dame was thorough up and down the lineup, which kept the Buckeyes at bay.
Said Jackson, “For the most part, I think we got contributions from all four lines.”
The win also keeps Notre Dame perfect in March, at 5-0.
Ohio State scored first, which could've been worrisome. But the Irish stuck to their strategy.
“We emphasized all week getting pucks to the net,” said Notre Dame junior forward T.J. Tynan.
Tynan scored what was the eventual game winner, on the power play, in the early moments of the third period. Jeff Costello added an empty netter.
In the end, the Irish tallied 44 shots on goal to Ohio State’s 17. It’s the second game in a row Notre Dame has put up more than 40 shots against Ohio State.
Said Jackson, “ You can't score unless you get pucks to the net. ... I’ve said it all season long.”
The Buckeyes were seldom able to make crisp passes and were often met with overwhelming pressure upon entering the offensive zone. Notre Dame’s top ten defense stood tall, giving the Irish a chance at winning the last-ever Mason Cup. They won their last CCHA Championship in 2009.
In their 11th trip to Joe Louis Arena, The Irish have also solidified their chance to play in the upcoming NCAA tournament. With a Mason Cup and a little help, the Irish could possibly earn a number one seed in the tournament.