Notre Dame and Western Michigan tend to play some fun games when they get together, and Saturday's was another. Unfortunately, the Irish let it get away and had to settle for a tie (I guess - WMU won in 3-on-3 OT, but the NCHC overtime rules are stupid and apparently the game counts as a tie for record-keeping purposes).
However, let's go back in time and jump to Friday's game:
It was all Irish from the jump Friday night as ND pounded the Broncos 7-1. Thomas DiPauli and his first line was dominant throughout the first period as ND grabbed control. Steven Fogarty scored ND's first goal on a rush to the net, picking up the puck after WMU had knocked it away from Dylan Malmquist just over six minutes into the game. The Irish would add another goal on a Sam Herr deflection of an Andy Ryan shot late in the period, and got a third in the final minute when a traffic jam in front of the net ended in a Dawson Cook goal.
The Broncos had some early chances in the second period, but ND held them out of the net and re-established control later. Anders Bjork, fresh off a trip to the World Juniors, scored on a spectacular individual play to put ND up 4-0 and chase WMU netminder Lukas Hafner from the game (temporarily as it turned out). The Irish poured in three more scores against Collin Olson, one each by Malmquist, Andrew Oglevie and the surprisingly quiet Mario Lucia. ND led 7-0 and the third period was basically cruise control, with the remaining drama evaporating on WMU's lone goal late in the third to take away Cal Petersen's bid for his first shutout of the season. Both teams got penalties in the final couple of minutes when they got into a small shoving match following a play, a harbinger of the wild game Saturday.
Early on, it looked like Saturday would be more of the same for ND, with Malmquist again finding the net following a great series of moves 9:34 into the contest, the only goal of the first period, though ND controlled the chances. The Irish scored again early in the second, with Bjork, for the second straight night, providing the fireworks. He scored an NHL-type goal, breaking free of the defense, skating around netminder Hafner and depositing the puck past him to put ND ahead 2-0. Petersen did what Petersen does on a WMU breakaway a couple of minutes later, making two great saves within 30 seconds.
Early in the third period, ND scored for a third time, this time on a goal that was awarded upon review, by Jake Evans. (ND's offense has proved multifaceted - the NBCSN broadcasters noted Friday night that the Irish lead the country with 19 different players having scored this season.) Evans' goal came on a nice move into the crease on the power play. But the game was about to turn.
WMU came right back with a goal less than 15 seconds later, at the 14:32-to-go mark, when Michael Rebry went five-hole on Petersen to get the Broncos on the board. The goal sparked WMU, who continued to play better. A second goal followed with 7:59 to go, but the Irish drew a couple of late power-play opportunities that enabled them to potentially put the game away. They didn't, though, and WMU emptied the net in the final minute. The move paid off when Sheldon Dries, who had scored the previous goal as well, picked up a rebound in front of the net and, inexplicably given a wide berth by the ND defense, went top-shelf on Petersen to tie the score.
5-on-5 overtime solved nothing, but 3-on-3 overtime is a cruel mistress, and WMU's Griffen Molino got loose on a breakaway and beat Petersen backhand to...win the game? I guess? Again, the game goes in the books as a tie because of the NCHC's silly rules, so who knows. But regardless, it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Irish, who utterly dominated five of six periods against WMU but couldn't come away with the sweep.
Next weekend, ND faces Merrimack in another two-game series, and both games will air on NBCSN. Don't miss it!