Ohio State’s Dave Steckel blasted a loose rebound past Notre Dame goaltender Morgan Cey to knot the score at 3-3 with less than five seconds left in regulation Friday. The two teams played a scoreless overtime for the final verdict.
After roaring back from a 2-0 deficit to score three second-period goals, Notre Dame was just 4.7 seconds away from snapping a seven-game (0-5-2) winless streak when Steckel scored.
The Buckeyes will gladly take the point, while the Irish will have to regroup.
“It definitely feels like a loss. We had our chances to clear the puck in the final 20 seconds and couldn’t get it out of the zone,” said ND head coach Dave Poulin.
The Irish have now played back-to-back strong games and only have a pair of 3-3 ties to show for it.
“This team is working and scrapping as hard as we have all season, but it always seem like one play is the difference,” said Poulin.
“Our guys should be angry with the outcome. We can’t keep falling just short.”
The Irish came out flying in the opening period, buzzing OSU goaltender Mike Betz with five quick shots before Tony Gill was whistled off for slashing at 2:18.
The Buckeyes turned that into a 1-0 lead when they scored on the power play. Defenseman Doug Andress fired a long slapshot from the left point through a screen in front to beat Cey inside the right post for his fifth goal of the season.
“We had great energy to start the game, we really put some great pressure on and then we got the penalty that turned the momentum,” explained Poulin
The penalty call would be the first of 13 called against the Irish by referee Mark Wilkins and linesman Brian Troester, giving the Buckeyes 11 power-play chances on the night. Andress’ goal would be the lone man-advantage goal scored by the Buckeyes on the night.
Junior Paul Caponigri put the Buckeyes up just 43 seconds into the second period when he took a cross-rink pass from right wing Scott May, crossed the blue line and drilled a shot that beat Cey to the short side for a 2-0 lead. The goal was Caponigri’s eighth of the season.
Notre Dame’s special teams took over the game after Caponigri’s goal, scoring a pair of power-play markers and getting a shorthander to take a 3-2 lead.
Junior Kyle Dolder scored the first power-play goal at 13:40 to cut the Buckeye lead to 2-1. Defenseman Brett Lebda found Dolder on the goal line to the right of Betz. The right winger banked a shot off Betz’s skate for his first goal of the season.
John Wroblewski got the equalizer at 18:19 when he outbattled the Ohio State defense in front of Betz and lifted a rebound of Neil Komadoski’s shot over Betz for his 12th of the year and team-high sixth power-play goal.
Lebda scored 35 seconds later at 18:54 as the Irish worked to kill OSU’s third power-play chance of the period. The Buckeye defense moved the puck through center before losing control to Lebda at the Notre Dame blue line. Lebda raced down the left side and fired a low hard shot from the left circle that beat Betz to the far post for a 3-2 Irish lead. The goal was Lebda’s fourth of the season.
“This team battled all night. We have some warriors on this team who just wouldn’t quit,” said Poulin.
Ohio State outshot the Irish 15-6 in the third period and pulled Betz with 1:08 left in the game. With the extra attacker on the ice, Daymen Bencharski found R.J. Umberger in front. Cey stopped Umberger, but the rebound went to Steckel, who wasted little time in firing it into the right side of the net to tie the game.
In overtime, Ohio State peppered Cey with nine shots, with five of them coming on two power plays, but the sophomore puckstopper was equal to the task. He finished the night with 37 saves while Betz made 30 stops for the Buckeyes. Notre Dame was two-for-six on the power play while Ohio State was one-for-11.
The tie gives Notre Dame a 9-12-6 record and a 7-9-3 mark in the CCHA. Ohio State is now 17-6-3 overall and 11-4-2 in the league. For the Irish, defenseman Evan Nielsen played in his 100th consecutive game while John Wroblewski played in his 99th. The school record for consecutive games is 103, by Ryan Dolder.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night at the Joyce Center. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m.