February 11, 2018 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Roundup: Notre Dame Thumped by OSU One Night After Clinching Title

Minnesota Sweeps Wisconsin in Madison With 7-Goal Outburst

CHN Staff Report

Friday night, Notre Dame became the first team this season to clinch a regular-season championship, winning the Big Ten in its first season in the league, and becoming the first team other than Minnesota to win it in the league's five years.

Saturday was a different story, as Ohio State came back and thumped the Irish, 5-1, behind a career-high 39 saves from Sean Romeo.

The loss dropped Notre Dame to No. 3 in the Pairwise, which the Buckeyes moved back to No. 6.

Ohio State scored three times in the third, with Kevin Miller and Sam McCormick getting goals less than a minute apart at 6:56 and 7:53 to seal the win.

“We knew what we had to do going into tonight and that was stick with what we did Friday night but do a better job of capitalizing on our opportunities," forward Brendon Kearney said. "We know what we're capable of as a team and are excited to keep going. This was an amazing team win.”

Goaltender Cale Morris, a leading contender for the Hobey Baker Award, was pulled by Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson after the fourth goal.

"(Cale) has been an ace and all season long he's been our rock. He's the guy that's made the difference in so many games. If you play sloppy like that, you can't rely on your goaltender on two-on-ones and breakaways all the time," Jackson said. "You're putting him in high-risk situations. I didn't put that on Cale. The way we were playing, I didn't want to (keep him in). I'd been looking for an opportunity to get Dylan St. Cyr into the net. So when they scored that last goal (I made the switch). I wasn't putting that on Cale; that had nothing to do with it. That was to try and get our guys to focus."

Jackson is aware of how quickly things can slip away from a team. After the recent 16-game winning streak, the Irish are 3-3-1 since. If they want to do more than win a regular-season title and return to the Frozen Four and beyond, the intensity needs to be maintained.

"We're playing for more than what we won last night. There's more out there and I don't want to go into the playoff sloppy," Jackson said. "We're also playing for NCAA seeding. That will take a hit tonight because the teams we're competing with at the top of the NCAA, they're not losing games.

"It's hard to beat a team four times in a row. It's hard to beat a team twice in a row. We have to recognize that we took three-of-four from the number six team in the country. We have to make sure that we're working to get better though. We're going to play one of these teams again in the second round of the (Big Ten) playoffs and if we're not ready for it, we'll be done early."

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Behind its highest offensive output of the season, Minnesota finished off a sweep of rival Wisconsin with a 7-1 win at Kohl Center in Madison.

With the wins, the Gophers (18-13-1 overall, 9-10-1-1 Big Ten) moved ahead of Wisconsin into fourth in the Big Ten, and are back in the mix at No. 9 in the Pairwise. Minnesota has won five of the last six games.

Goalie Mat Robson improved to 6-2-0 with a 23-save performance on Saturday. Robson made 61 saves on 64 shots in the series.

Wisconsin was skating this weekend without head coach Tony Granato, who is leading the U.S. Olympic team in South Korea.

“It didn’t go our way right from the get-go," Wisconsin assistant coach Mark Osiecki said. "I think you have to tip your hat to Minnesota a little bit. They played well and they were on their toes and they put us on our heels quickly. Now we have to stew over this. From a coaching staff it’s tough because coaches have a tough time letting go of things. Now we have 13 days to stew over it. Typically at this age, the players have short memories. They get regrouped really quickly, and coaches, we don’t, and we should.” 

Wisconsin, which was playing in front of a sellout crowd, will have the next weekend off, then have one more weekend without Granato.

The cause was not helped by the loss of freshman defenseman Josh Ess to injury during the game.

“You never want to look at one player making a difference, but him and (Peter) Tischke have played all year together," Osiecki said. "Typically they play in key defensive situations and D-zone faceoffs. They always start on the penalty kill and play teams’ top lines. Tischke and Ess blow away the rest of our team on scoring chances on the positive side. They’re way in the positive side and that’s not easy to do. Those two guys have been outstanding all year. To lose a guy like Ess, obviously it disrupts the chemistry on the blue line and the pairs. Now we need another guy to step up now and fill those shoes.”

* * *

Playing in Detroit's Little Caesars Arena, Michigan knocked off rival Michigan State, 3-2, to take five points on the weekend series. Friday, Michigan won in a shootout after a 1-1 draw.

The meeting was the 314th all-time between the two teams. Both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities, complemented by outstanding goaltending including Michigan sophomore Hayden Lavigne stopping 32 shots.

The win kept Michigan ahead of Minnesota in third place in the Big Ten, and kept the Wolverines on the right side of the Pairwise bubble at No. 14.

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