NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Undermanned for a critical home game, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson welcomed contributions Saturday from throughout his lineup.
Four different players scored and goalie Cal Petersen made 31 saves in leading Notre Dame to a 4-1 victory over No. 13 Vermont. After a 4-4 tie Friday, the Irish captured three valuable conference points with a win in the series finale.
“It’s probably one of our best 60-minute efforts of the season,” Jackson said. “Maybe we’re designed to give up the first goal. Maybe we play better. I’d rather give up the first goal and win the game than give up goals in the third. But I thought we did a good job of controlling the puck and that’s where it all starts from.”
Notre Dame (15-9-4, 8-5-3 Hockey East) entered the game without top four defenseman Bobby Nardella (lower body injury), center Connor Hurley (undisclosed) and winger Joe Wegwerth (lower body injury).
On top of that, Matt O’Donnell gave Vermont (16-9-3, 8-6-2 Hockey East) a 1-0 lead at 14 minutes of the first period. Liam Coughlin picked up the assist.
But the Catamounts couldn’t solve Petersen again.
Andrew Oglevie scored with speed at 14:50 of the second, shooting a wrist shot past Vermont goalie Stefanos Lekkas to finish off an odd-man rush, for his second goal of the series. Notre Dame then vaulted into the lead with 18 seconds left in the period on a goal by defenseman Jordan Gross.
Gross put a wrist shot through Lekkas after a Vermont turnover during a 4-on-4 stretch. Each team had a player in the box serving minor penalties.
“I thought it was a pretty good hockey game,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “I thought we were playing great until that 4-on-4 situation. It was a 1-1 hockey game but I thought we had some really good shifts throughout that period. I thought our guys did a pretty good job of coming out in the third and putting that behind them. But then, obviously, we didn’t do a great job on that one play.”
More goals came in the third period for Notre Dame from unlikely sources.
Winger Mike O’Leary, a freshman, scored with just under five minutes remaining for his first collegiate goal. Cal Burke then added an empty netter at the 18:05 mark for his second of the season. Defenseman Dennis Gilbert assisted on both.
“It was huge,” said Petersen, who added a secondary assist to Burke’s goal. “That’s something we’ve been kinda looking for the entire year. It’s obviously tough for young guys to come in and make an impact right away. I think, like I was saying, probably the biggest thing is those guys having confidence and playing larger roles and being successful — being able to be a legitimate part of a victory for us. They should be really excited and really proud of the production.”
No two-goal lead proved safe Friday in the series opener.
Each team built that kind of advantage only to see it disappear. Notre Dame did so first, starting with a goal by Andrew Oglevie at 5:59 of the first period. Bo Brauer followed with his third of the season give the Irish a 2-0 lead 16 minutes and 34 seconds in to the game.
“We did the things we needed to do early in the game,” Jackson said. “The first period, and not just the fact that we scored a couple goals, I thought we did a good job of putting pucks into areas and creating speed. I thought that that was a real positive for us, gave us some energy. It got us out of our zone and through the neutral zone fast. At the close of the first period, they started to take that away from us.”
Vermont scored next through Brian Bowen at 17:50 of the second period, a sign of things to come.
After a Dennis Gilbert penalty for elbowing as the second period ended, the Catamounts started the third on a power play. They capitalized with a goal from Rob Hamilton after 30 seconds to tie the game.
Ross Colton scored just over a minute later then Brady Shaw did so at 7:43 to put Vermont ahead 4-2.
“It wasn’t a good penalty by Dennis Gilbert,” Jackson said. “It was an unnecessary penalty and that’s the thing we have to eliminate from our game because it puts us in those situations where the momentum swings change. That was the biggest problem, more so than the goal was the penalty that caused the goal.”
Just like that, Notre Dame found itself in a hole and without four of its best players. Leading scorer Anders Bjork (illness), defenseman Bobby Nardella (lower body) and center Connor Hurley (personal) didn’t dress. Winger Joe Wegwerth went out in the first period and didn’t return.
Jackson juggled the lineup as the Irish mounted a comeback.
Center Jake Evans slapped home a rebound for his ninth goal of the season with just over three minutes left in the game. Notre Dame went on a crucial power play a couple minutes later, so Jackson pulled Petersen for a two-man advantage.
Winger Cam Morrison scored with about a minute remaining to secure a point. Notre Dame weathered six Vermont shots in overtime to finish off the tie.
“I’m proud of the guys for coming back,” Evans said. “We were relentless. We took a late penalty, I took a late penalty with like five minutes left but we bounced back. I think we definitely learned something.”