March 27, 2011
Manchester, N.H. –
All season long the Notre Dame hockey team showed a penchant for being able to come-from-behind and pull out dramatic wins. They did it again on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena, rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits to pull out a 4-3 overtime win versus the Merrimack Warriors.
Freshman left wing Anders Lee led the way, recording two goals, including the overtime game winner at 5:18 of the first overtime to give the Irish the win. Junior Billy Maday and senior Calle Ridderwall added single goals in the win that will send the Irish to the NCAA Northeast Regional Final on Sunday night versus the University of New Hampshire.
The Wildcats, the fourth seed in the regional, defeated first-seed Miami, 3-1, in the opening game of the day. Notre Dame and New Hampshire will face off at 8:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised live by ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
Merrimack got goals from Kyle Bigos, Ryan Flanigan and Rhett Bly, as the Warriors would lead 3-1 midway through the second period.
Notre Dame out shot Merrimack, 37-35, in the game. Irish goaltender Mike Johnson made 32 saves while the Warriors’ Joe Cannata had 33.
The victory improves the ninth-ranked Irish to 24-13-5 on the season while seventh-ranked Merrimack closes its season with a 25-10-4 mark.
“Obviously we are thrilled to be advancing but it certainly was an up-and-down game, a boxing match,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
“They took the lead on some mistakes that we made early on but our guys kept on working. I think in the third period we started creating a few more opportunities for ourselves. I was hoping that we could finish the game in regulation because I knew if we took the period break that it would give them the advantage coming back and it did.”
Jackson continued, “I credit Merrimack for playing a great game. We are just fortunate that our guys never said never and were able to come back.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period scoring once on the power play and once short-handed.
They got on the scoreboard at 13:23 when Bigos managed to jam a loose puck in the crease past Johnson for his second goal of the season.
Defenseman Jordan Heywood started the play when he fired the puck behind the Notre Dame goal from the right point. Flanigan, a junior left wing took control on the goal line and tried to bank a shot off Johnson but the puck was stopped only to break through the Notre Dame goaltenders pads. Bigos, who was parked in front, got his stick on it and moved it over the goal line to make it 1-0.
The Irish got their first break of the night at 14:50 when Rhett Bly was called for tripping. With Notre Dame on the power play, Stephane DeCosta banked the puck off the left wing boards and got past the Irish defense moving in on a 2-on-1 with Flanigan. When the Irish defenseman back played the puck carrier, DeCosta moved it to Flanigan on the right circle and he snapped a shot past Johnson for his 16th goal of the season and a 2-0 Merrimack lead.
Notre Dame would get it back on that power play at 16:27 when Ridderwall ripped a shot from between the hashmarks, beating Merrimack’s Cannata to his stick side. The goal was the 15th of the season for the senior left wing. T.J. Tynan started the play at the right point, moving the puck to Ridderwall at the left point. He fed it to Billy Maday on the left boards and moved into the slot. Maday put the puck on his tape and Ridderwall wasted no time burying it in the net to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Warriors out shot the Irish, 15-11, in the opening period.
Merrimack built the lead to 3-1 at 2:58 of the middle stanza capitalizing on an Irish turnover in front of their own net. An errant pass ended up on the stick of Shawn Bates to the left of Johnson. He fed the puck across the crease to Bly who backhanded a shot over Johnson for his fourth goal of the year.
Notre Dame cut the lead to 3-2 at 13:29 when Lee fired a wrist shot over Cannata’s glove hand and into the upper right corner.
Right wing Bryan Rust cleared the puck out of the Irish zone from the right boards to Lee on the left side in the neutral zone. The freshman left wing raced down the left side and fired from the top of the left circle. The puck appeared deflect off Cannata’s glove and into the goal. For Lee, the goal was his team-best 23rd of the season.
The Irish poured it on in the third period out shooting the Warriors by a 17-4 margin and scored the only goal of the period as Maday got the equalizer at 5:32.
This time Lee carried the puck into the Merrimack zone and fired a shot from the left circle that Cannata kicked out. A Merrimack defender tried to push the puck back into his goaltender but Maday drove to the goal and was able to get a stick on it and push it through the goaltenders pads for his ninth goal of the season and a 3-3 tie.
Cannata held the Irish off the scoreboard the rest of the way sending the game to overtime.
While the Irish ended regulation with the momentum, Merrimack came out flying in the extra stanza putting the pressure on the Notre Dame goal with six shots in the first five minutes.
“They came out really hard in the overtime and we just had to weather the storm,” said Johnson, the Irish goaltender.
“The guys on the ice did a nice job getting sticks in passing lanes and blocking shots and doing everything they could to keep the puck out of the net. I give credit to my teammates for battling really hard on the ice. I think we really needed that time out to just settle us down and get our legs back under us.”
With five minutes gone in the period, Notre Dame still hadn’t gotten a shot on goal and Jackson called a timeout.
“I think any coach would have called that timeout. The pressure was on us. If I could have called it earlier I would have,” said Jackson.
“I just told our guys to calm down. We were turning pucks over. Merrimack has three lines and anyone of them can score. If it weren’t for Mike Johnson, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. Sometimes you call the timeout to change the momentum and that was one of those times.”
The time out worked because 18 seconds later, the Irish were celebrating on the ice with the victory. Off the face off, the Irish threw the puck into the Merrimack zone where a Warrior defender picked it up on the left side of the goal and moved out the right with Lee in pursuit. As the defenseman cut inside at the right post, Lee took a swing at the puck and deflected it past Cannata to give Notre Dame its only lead of the night and the win, 4-3.
“I was just going in hard on the forecheck and the defenseman cut up pretty quickly,” said Lee.
“I just made a last ditch effort and swung at it and it was in the back of the net.”
The overtime win was the second of the postseason for the Irish as they knocked off Lake Superior on March 11 in the first game of the second round of the CCHA playoffs on a goal by Jeff Costello.
Notre Dame is now unbeaten in its last 21 overtime games (5-0-16) dating back to its most recent overtime loss on March 21, 2008, a 2-1 loss to Miami in the CCHA semifinals.
This season, the Irish are 2-0-5 in overtime.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 OT - F#9/#9 Notre Dame (24-13-5) 1 1 1 1 - 4#7/#7 Merrimack (25-10-4) 2 1 0 0 - 3
Penalties: ND: 4 for 8 minutes; MC: 2 for 4 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; MC: 2 for 4 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; MC: 2 for 4 minutes.
Overtime: ND: Lee 24 (unassisted); 5:18.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; MC: 0 for 0 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 11 - 8 - 17 - 1 - 37Merrimack 15 - 10 - 4 - 6 - 35
Goaltender Saves:ND: Mike Johnson (65:14) 13 - 9 - 4 - 6 - 32MC: Joe Cannata (65:18) 10 - 7 - 16 - 0 - 33
Power Plays:ND: 1 for 4MC: 1 for 3