As much as head coach Jeff Jackson and his hockey team don’t like to talk about streaks, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey squad is in the middle of something historic. Coming off a 2-1 win and spoiling Red Berenson Night for the Michigan Wolverines at Yost Ice Arena, the Irish returned home against the same team they saw Friday night. The Irish, ranked #1 in the USA Today poll, still haven’t lost in Big Ten play and were looking to tie a school record with their 15th consecutive win overall.
Notre Dame started Sunday afternoon’s contest by getting a lot of pressure on Michigan goalie Hayden Lavigne, but there wasn’t quite enough traffic in front of the net as Lavigne made things so complicated with some huge stops early in the 1st. After Friday’s contest, I mentioned the two rivals getting chippy for much of the game. This was on full display once again, as Wolverine sophomore forward Adam Winborg was getting very physical with the Irish defensive unit that wasn’t afraid to jump in and help out with scoring opportunities.
The ND forwards were putting a lot of pressure on a young Michigan defense early and often. The 8th shot on goal for the Irish temporarily gave them a 1-0 lead. A good chip by junior forward Joe Wegwerth led to Bo Brauer finding the puck near the side of the net and putting it in for what I thought was the first goal of the afternoon. However, the play was reviewed and overturned due to a hand pass. Jeff Jackson had some words for the referee, as it looked like the puck went off the shoulder a Michigan player before the disallowed goal.
The aggressive play continued as Michigan captain Tony Calderone was called for hooking on Dennis Gilbert at 6:44 of the 1st and the Wolverines went on the penalty kill. ND’s powerplay unit played outstanding on Friday, going 2 for 2. Despite getting some good looks at the net, they couldn’t sustain the same success from the last game. Michigan killed off the penalty thanks for impressive play by goalie Hayden Lavigne, who halfway through the 1st saw 13 shots compared to 2 from his team’s offense. Irish sophomore forward Mike O’Leary was called for high sticking at 11:50, but the penalty was killed off without any serious threat from the Wolverines. It took over 9 minutes for Michigan to get another shot on Cale Morris, who matched Lavigne’s shutout into the 1st intermission.
After getting out-shot 15-8 after 1 period, Michigan finally started getting some pressure on the Irish early on in the 2nd, but Morris was once again not letting anything in. Irish freshman Colin Thiesen from Monroe, MI got the puck past the Michigan defense to junior Dylan Malmquist. Malmquist dished it to Andrew Oglevie for the first goal of the game past a sliding Lavigne at 6:50 of the 2nd. This one stays on the board and it’s Oglevie’s 9th goal of the season and 2nd of the series.
Michigan came close to tying the score, but Cale Morris came through with 2 big saves for the Irish, including a beautiful side to side push to keep the puck out of harm’s way when Calderone saw a wide open net. Wolverine forward Cooper Marody got his stick knocked out of his hand and Michigan went on the powerplay with a slashing call on junior defenseman Dennis Gilbert. Marody was red hot coming into the series, so it was good to see him relatively quiet in these 2 games against the Irish. ND killed off the penalty then went on a powerplay of their own thanks to a tripping call on Calderone at 12:54.
Freshman defenseman Matt Hellickson capitalized with a rebound that got away from the Wolverines to make it 2-0. The 7th round pick of the New Jersey Devils has the Wolverines’ number, as the powerplay goal was Hellickson’s 2nd in as many games, and were his first 2 goals of the season. If this kid scores in every game against Michigan for the rest of his college career, he’ll be my favorite hockey player of all time.
Hellickson's power-play tally! pic.twitter.com/JdBNb0ktsr— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) January 7, 2018
The Irish went back to the powerplay with 2:25 left in the 2nd on a Luke Martin 2 minute minor for slashing on Cam Morrison. During the powerplay, captain Jake Evans almost got his first point in 4 games, only for the puck to hit the post. In a period where Michigan got a lot of early pressure but no results, Irish scored twice and headed into the 2nd intermission with a 2-0 lead.
At 1:08 into the 3rd period, interference was called on Irish sophomore defenseman Andrew Peeke. The penalty kill continued it’s strong weekend performance, as juniorforward Jack Jenkins corralled a blocked puck for a short handed scoring chance that was saved by Lavigne. The Michigan goalie continued to impress despite Notre Dame’s forwards keeping the puck in the Michigan zone and getting serious pressure on the net through the first 8 minutes.
Freshman forward Josh Norris cut the Irish lead in half thanks to a rebound from Morris after an initial stop on defenseman Quinn Hughes. Prior to the shot from Hughes, Michigan hadn’t had a shot on net in over 8 minutes. The Wolverines threatened to tie the game but Morris made a big stop on junior defenseman Joseph Cecconi with 4 minutes to go.
With the clock winding down and only 1:21 left in the game, Michigan coach Mel Pearson called for a timeout and pulled Lavigne for the extra attacker. Michigan got a couple looks at the net but the Notre Dame defense held their own and the horn blew as the Irish defeated the Wolverines 2-1 just like they did on Friday night. The 15th straight victory tied their longest win streak in school history (‘83-84). Notre Dame is now 18-3-1 and 12-0-0-0 in Big Ten play. It couldn’t have possibly been a better weekend, as the Irish sent the Wolverines packing with a 2 game series sweep. Sing it loud and proud, boys!
ND - Andrew Oglevie (9) at 6:10 of the 2nd with assists from Dylan Malmquist (5) and Colin Theisen (11)
ND - Matt Hellickson (2) on the PP at 13:51 of the 2nd with assists from Cam Morrison (10) and Bobby Nardella (11)
Mich - Josh Norris (5) at 8:44 of the 3rd with assists from Quinn Hughes (10) and Jake Slaker (5)
ND - Cale Morris stopped 33 of 34 shots, improves to 17-1-0
Mich - Hayden Lavigne stopped 34 of 36 shots, falls to 4-6-2
Mich - Tony Calderone, 2 for hooking at 6:44 in the 1st
ND - Mike O’Leary, 2 for high sticking at 11:50 in the 1st
ND - Dennis Gilbert, 2 for slashing at 10:37 in the 2nd
Mich - Tony Calderone, 2 for tripping at 12:54 in the 2nd
Mich - Luke Martin, 2 for slashing at 17:35 in the 2nd
ND - Andrew Peeke, 2 for interference at 1:08 in the 3rd
1. Cale Morris
2. Andrew Oglevie
3. Hayden Lavigne
Notre Dame has a week off then returns home to Compton on Friday, January 19th to take on Wisconsin for the first game of the series. Puck drops at 7:35 PM EST and can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago Plus.