Notre Dame joined the Big Ten hockey ranks for the first time this season, and the Fighting Irish made themselves right at home, beating Ohio State 3-2 in sudden-death overtime on a St. Patrick’s Day Saturday night in South Bend, Indiana, to gain the league's tournament title to go along with the regular-season title.
Cam Morrison took a pass on the left wing and beat Ohio State goalie Sean Romeo with a quick wrist shot for the win.
Not that the loss ended the Buckeyes’ season. There is a good chance that Notre Dame and Ohio State will be No. 1 seeds in a couple of regionals when the NCAA Tournament pairings are announced Sunday.
It was the third straight sudden-death challenge in the tournament for the Buckeyes, who completed a sweep of Michigan State in the best-of-three quarterfinals with an overtime win and then beat Michigan in the single-game semifinal at Nationwide Arena a week ago.
Ohio State’s Matt Miller tied the score at 2 early in the third period with a 35-foot slap shot off a feed from Tanner Laczynski that beat Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris, who earlier in the week was named the Big Ten player of the year and Saturday was named MVP of the tournament.
The Buckeyes had been in rally mode since the first period after Notre Dame jumped to a 2-0 lead, having dominated on offense through most of the 20 minutes. The Buckeyes turned the tables in the second period.
Brendon Kearney received credit for putting the Buckeyes on the board for the first time in the second, but that was only because he redirected a missile off the stick of Miller that zipped past Morris. The goal came 6:21 into the period.
The Buckeyes pressed the attack through the rest of the second. One promising chance in particular, a breakaway by Kearney late in the period, was turned away by Morris.
The Fighting Irish were working from ahead at that point, of course, because of the two goals in the opening period.
The first goal came when Bo Brauer redirected a shot from the left corner by Jake Evans past Romeo 4:09 into the game.
The second came on a power play against Ohio State’s penalty-kill unit, which went into the game still No. 1 in the country. The shot was a ripper by Matt Hellickson, a one-timer with 14:30 elapsed.