The stage was set for a BIG weekend series against the defending National Champions, the Denver Pioneers. The Irish and Pioneers had faced off previously on April 6 in the semifinals of last year’s Frozen Four. A series of this magnitude gave Notre Dame a gut check as to where they are this early in the season. The question that needs to be answered is as follows: will the Fighting Irish be able to keep up with the National Champions in the series?
Let’s get into it and see how the Notre Dame Fighting Irish respond to the challenge in the two games.
Let’s Get Ready To Rumble
Game 1 will go down as the game the Fighting Irish showed true grit. These two teams were a superb match-up. The key to success in the series was to not fall behind early then have to to play catch-up hockey. The Irish did just that in game 1 and it resulted in the two teams skating a to a 2-2 overtime tie in the opening game.
The Irish drew first blood in the first period. The Captain, Jake Evan, put the puck in the goal with 59 seconds left in the First Period. St. Cyr faced 13 shots on goal and one that would light the lamp for Denver 15 seconds later in the 1st period, ending the first frame in a 1-1 tie.
Both teams would play penalty free hockey for the first two periods in this epic battle. While the second period saw both teams spend a good amount of time in their respective offensive zones, neither team lit the lamp in the period.
The third period saw goals once again by each team. Denver scored first and go up 2-1 on the Power Play a little more than half way through the 3rd. Two minutes later, Oglevie scored on the Irish power play and lit the lamp. The arena went wild with the game tied at 2-2 late in the third. In regulation, S.t Cyr faced 46 shots on goal and and only two made it by him.
Sudden Death OT
Just like the NHL regular season, overtime brings five minutes of sudden-death hockey. First to score wins…or when that doesn’t happen, as it did in this game, it’s time for the special treat of a shootout.
The Irish, unfortunately, fell in the shootout 2-1, with their lone shot on goal coming from Oglevie.
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Three Stars of the Game: #3 Denver Goalie, Tanner Jaillet, #2 Denver’s Henrik Borgstrom, and #1 Dylan St Cyr.
Let’s Play Another
Saturday night’s motto needed to be the same as Friday night’s: don’t fall behind early then have to to play catch-up hockey. However, Saturday much different than Friday, as was the result. The Irish fell 4-2, resulting in their first loss of the season.
The Pioneers came out with one thing on their mind: no ties, win. The Pioneers poured it on early and often in the first period as they scored twice against Irish net-minder, Cale Morris. The Irish spent a lot of time on defense and appeared completely gassed because of it.
In the second period, the Irish created more quality chances. Morris made several spectacular saves as the Pioneers crowded the crease more to keep Morris off-balance. In the end, however, the second period saw no scoring from either side, keeping the score at 2-0.
The third period saw the Irish build on the momentum from the second. Denver played to protect the lead while Irish were played for an opportunity to ignite a spark. That spark ignited with a goal from Cam Morrison with 5:16 left in the regulation, bringing the score to 2-1.
Right after the goal, the Irish went on the power play. With the 5-4 advantage, the Irish appeared to score, but no goal was called. A review would later reveal that a blast from Jordan Gross put the puck through the net, giving the Irish a goal 14 seconds later, tying the game at 2-2.
Although momentum was firmly on the Irish’s side, much like in the previous game, momentum swung again. Denver quickly reclaimed the lead 28 seconds later and took a 3-2 lead.
In an effort to tie the game, the Irish pulled Morris from goal and put an extra-attacker on the ice with 1:48 left in the game. 28 seconds later, Denver sealed the game with an empty net goal for a final score of 4-2.
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The 3 Stars of the Game: #3 Denver’s Dylan Gambrell, #2 Jake Evans, and #1 Denver’s Troy Terry.
It was a great weekend of hockey at the Compton Family Ice Arena, and the series definitely lived up to the hype. The Irish record after the Saturday night sits at 2-1-1. Next up, the Irish play Thursday night against Sacred Heart.