March 17, 2018
By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — In a heavyweight battle between top-five teams with the Big Ten Championship on the line, No. 3 Notre Dame delivered the knockout punch via Cam Morrison‘s overtime game-winner to defeat No. 4 Ohio State, 3-2.
The Irish, looking to add the tournament trophy to their case after winning the league’s regular-season title in the program’s first year in the Big Ten, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on goals from Bo Brauer and Matt Hellickson. The Buckeyes chipped away, scoring the second period’s only goal before Matt Miller tied it just 67 seconds into the third.
The goaltenders, Notre Dame’s Cale Morris and Ohio State’s Sean Romeo, were largely responsible for sending the game into an extra session. Romeo held off several Notre Dame scoring chances late in the third while totaling 35 saves and Morris made 41 saves to earn tournament MVP honors. It gives Morris a sweep of B1G awards as he captured the conference Player of the Year and Goaltender of the year earlier in the week.
In a battle of the top-two penalty kills in the country, the teams combined for just three power play opportunities and Hellickson’s first-period goal made the Irish go 1-for-2 on the man-up, while Ohio State did not score on its only power play.
Notre Dame captured its seventh conference title. The two league championships this season join two CCHA regular-season titles and three banners for the CCHA tournament.
COACH JACKSON’S THOUGHTS
On the game…
“You work all season long for this. They earned the opportunity to play in this game and our building. It was a tremendous environment, the crowd was great and they earned the opportunity to play. The message then was, `Okay, now we have to take advantage of this opportunity,’ and that’s exactly what they did so I give them all the credit in the world.”
On the back-and-forth nature of the game…
“(Ohio State) is a great hockey team. I think we had a really good first period and then they had a real good second. You have two high quality programs and that’s just what is going to happen whether it’s period-to-period, or shift-to-shift. We were under a lot of pressure it was a matter of resolve. Guys fighting through it until they can find their feet again. Our defense held their own tonight. They’re (OSU) a deep defensive team and they don’t give you much, plus they have a great goaltender.”
On the senior class…
“I’m really proud of their efforts and happy for them. They will always remember their final game in the Compton Family Ice Arena because it was a special game and this class has been a great class to coach.”
On Cale Morris…
“He’s our rock. You don’t win without great goaltending and he’s been that way for us all season long. I think the most important thing is that he’s a very humble kid. Confident internally but he has a great sense of humility in him, an all-around solid individual.”
On the game-winner…
“It was a great pass by Jake (Evans). He saw me going up the left wing and I just saw the opportunity to shoot and luckily it went in. I prayed for the best and it found its way in.”
On Cale Morris…
“He’s meant the most to us. It gives us confidence knowing that we have a player like [Cale] back there who’s going to make saves at the times we need him to make them and he’s won us a lot of games all year. It’s an amazing feeling having him in the pipes.”
On the 2017-18 season…
“(The win) was a group effort. I’m really happy with our entire team all year, it’s been awesome. It’s been a daily process, coming to the rink everyday for business. (Early in the season) we weren’t getting the results we wanted but we were still moving forward, both as a team and as individuals so it’s nice to see the results now.”
NOTRE DAME GOAL DESCRIPTIONS
1-0 | Bobby Nardella worked the puck from the point down to Jake Evans in the near corner. Evans fired a puck on net that Sean Romeo fought off, but Bo Brauer crashed the net and knocked the rebound in for a 1-0 Irish lead at 4:09 of the first play. It was Brauer’s fifth goal of the season.
2-0 | Skating on the power play, Matt Hellickson let a slap shot rip from the high slot that beat Sean Romeo for a 2-0 Notre Dame lead at 14:30 of the first period. Cal Burke and Andrew Peeke notched the assists on the play, which was Hellickson’s third goal of the season. All three of Hellickosn’s goals have come on the power play.
3-2 | Gilbert won the puck in Notre Dame’s defensive zone and connected with Morrison entering the neutral zone. Morrison sent it across the ice to Evans before the captain returned it to Morrison, who ripped it past Romeo from the top of the left circle.
- Morrison netted his third game-winning goal of the year and fourth of his career.
- With his 24th victory of the season, Morris now leads the country in victories.
- Jordan Gross skated in the 155th consecutive game of his Irish career (dating back to the first game of his freshman season).
- Jake Evans skated in his 127th consecutive game dating back to his freshman season (153rd overall).
- Notre Dame is 21-2-2 this season when scoring first, 10-1-1 when leading after the first period and 19-1-0 when leading after two periods.
- The Irish cap the 2017-18 season with a 14-6-1 mark at Compton Family Ice Arena.
- It was the fifth overtime game of the year for Notre Dame, boosting its record in extra-time contests to 2-1-2.
- Notre Dame is 14-6-2 this season when facing a ranked opponent.
- The Fighting Irish are now 2-2 all-time in St. Patrick’s Day. Both victories are conference tournament championship games, as Notre Dame won the 2007 CCHA Mason Cup with a 2-1 win over Michigan at Joe Louis Arena.
Notre Dame will learn its NCAA tournament destination and first round opponent on Sunday, March 18, when the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship field is unveiled live at Noon ET on ESPNU.
— ND —
Dan Colleran, Director of Athletics Communications at the University of Notre Dame, has been a part of Fighting Irish Media since August 2015 and coordinates all media and publicity efforts surrounding the Notre Dame hockey and golf programs. A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, Colleran spent the previous three years working with the men’s hockey and soccer programs at Providence College. Colleran also spent two years as an Assistant Executive Director of Communications & Championships at the Ivy League and is a graduate of Providence College (’06 & ’08G).