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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

19, 20240224, Away-Game, Hockey, Landon Slaggert, Meghan Lange, University of Michigan, Yost Ice Arena copy.jpg

Irish swept out of Ann Arbor to end regular season

Notre Dame scores one goal in two games, killing hopes of quarterfinal home ice

Last year, Notre Dame hockey visited Michigan in the final weekend of February, needing an improbable sequence of events for home ice in the Big Ten quarterfinals. And somehow, it happened. The Irish took four points from the Wolverines, returning home with the help of a stunning Wisconsin upset over Penn State.

This past weekend in Ann Arbor, Notre Dame faced a much simpler path to postseason hockey in South Bend. Take five points from Michigan, and you enter your regular season-ending bye week with home ice guaranteed. Earn three points, and you would place home ice in the hands of a Minnesota sweep against Michigan to start March.

Notre Dame walked away without any points, guaranteeing a road trip for the Big Ten quarterfinals two weekends from now. The Irish fell 4-0 and 2-1 at Yost Ice Arena and will likely return to Michigan for the quarterfinals. However, if Michigan takes more than three points at Minnesota next weekend, they will begin their postseason in Minneapolis.

Friday: Notre Dame 0, Michigan 4

It took more than five years for Notre Dame to lose again at Yost, but it happened in one-sided fashion Friday night. The Wolverines jumped out to a 2-0 lead early and maintained pressure throughout the game, outshooting the Irish by at least four in every period.

Less than five minutes in, Michigan opened the scoring on an offensive zone draw. Notre Dame dominated the face-off circle early, winning 25 of 37 draws through two periods. But this one slid back to Michigan’s Dylan Duke, who knuckled a quick wrister past the glove of graduate goaltender Ryan Bischel.

Ten minutes later, the Irish earned a two-minute power play for boarding. Head coach Jeff Jackson challenged the call for a potential major penalty, but the ruling remained a minor against Josh Eernisse. On the ensuing power play, junior forward Justin Janicke, Notre Dame’s last line of defense, blew a tire while exiting the defensive zone. The puck sat free in slot, where Duke skated to it and slid Michigan’s second goal through Bischel’s five-hole.

Late in the second period, Michigan’s special teams struck again. The vaunted Wolverine power play capitalized on an interference minor against sophomore defenseman Michael Mastrodomenico, making it 3-0. Michigan’s quick passing broke down Notre Dame’s box-shaped penalty kill, leaving Garrett Schifsky uncontested at the hash marks for a low-high feed. He swept the puck through Bischel, who had no time to square up to the shooter.

While Notre Dame remained scoreless throughout the third, Michigan’s power play added yet another goal with 4:45 to play. During a 4-on-3 Wolverine zone entry, all three Irish defenders remained above the hash marks, allowing two opposing forwards free access to the netfront. The first, Rutger McGroarty, centered to the second, Gavin Brindley, who redirected the puck home.

Michigan netminder Jake Barczewski, who allowed six goals in his previous Friday matchup with Notre Dame on Dec. 1, pitched his second shutout of the season. He made 22 saves, including two on breakaways by senior forward Landon Slaggert in the third period. 

Saturday: Notre Dame 1, Michigan 2

In Notre Dame’s regular season finale and Michigan’s senior night, the Irish offense snapped into gear quickly. The Wolverines put Notre Dame on the power play just 93 seconds in, leading to the opening goal from Danny Nelson. The freshman forward used a quick catch-and-shoot release to beat Barczewski low from the right dot. Later on, Nelson would leave the game after taking an awkward spill while engaged in a battle for positioning.

Over the next eight minutes, the Wolverine would tie the game twice. A review for offsides wiped away their first equalizer, but they would indubitably level the score moments later. Brindley swooped into the right side of the offensive zone with the puck, beating Bischel short-side from a sharp angle.

The score would remain deadlocked across the next 46 minutes despite power-play chances on both sides. Finally, with 2:57 to play in the third, Michigan pulled ahead. Its 30th shot of the night, a high slot one-timer by Ethan Edwards, clipped freshman forward Cole Knuble on the way toward goal. The redirection off the Irish shot-blocker puzzled Bischel, who was late to react and felt the puck zip through him.

Notre Dame emptied its net in the final two minutes but never found a tying goal. Michigan emerged with the 2-1 victory, sweeping Notre Dame at Yost for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

Now, the Irish (15-17-2, 9-13-2 Big Ten) will await their host in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Notre Dame has the conference’s fifth seed locked up and is the only Big Ten team on bye next weekend. The Irish are 2-2-0 against Minnesota and 1-3-0 against Michigan, their two possible opponents.

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