College hockey: Notre Dame clinches Big Ten Championship
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- In its first year in the Big Ten Conference, the Notre Dame hockey team has clinched the Big Ten championship.
Hobey Baker candidate Cale Morris made 31 saves for the Irish, earning his 21st victory of the season. Jordan Gross netted the game winner in the second period, while Andrew Oglevie notched the other tally for the Irish.
Ohio State goalie Sean Romeo made 27 saves in the effort, while Kevin Miller scored a power-play goal for the Buckeyes.
The game included 13 penalties, with the Irish going 0-for-6 on the power play and Ohio State scoring on one of four chances.
The victory clinches the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, giving the Irish the lone first-round bye.
Notre Dame will host a semifinal game at Compton Family Ice Arena on Saturday, March 10, and should it advance, the final on Saturday, March 17.
NOTRE DAME GOALS
1-0 | Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead at 12:49 of the first period when Andrew Oglevie finished off a feed in front for his 12th goal of the season. He was set up by his linemates, Dylan Malmquist and Cal Burke, who put together a give-and-go play along the near boards and then Malmquist found an open Oglevie at the far post.
2-1 | Jake Evans picked up a Cam Morrison pass in heavy traffic in the high slot and left it off for an on-rushing Jordan Gross, who fired low stick side to beat Romeo for his seventh goal of the season at 9:36 of the second period to restore Notre Dame's one-goal lead.
COACH JACKSON QUOTES
On winning the Big Ten championship...
"It's an incredible feeling. For me, the reward is watching the kids and watching them celebrate it. They battled tonight. That was a playoff game, the intensity Ohio State played with. We matched it pretty well and I was really proud of the guys' effort tonight. It's an incredible feather in their cap, but as I've mentioned to them, it's just one step of the process. There's more to play for out there and we just have to make sure we're out there working again tomorrow."
On capturing the title during the first season in the league...
"It's timing to some degree. This is the first time we've had a little bit more of a veteran team in a few years. Obviously, the emergence of Cale Morris has given our team a lot of confidence. When you see plays like Jack Jenkins blocking a shot out there tonight, some of the other guys taking hits, those are the encouraging things. In past years, maybe we haven't won games like that because of the battle level and tonight we matched them toe-to-toe."
On winning at home...
"That's even better. For our band, our student section, our fans that weathered the weather, I appreciate them getting out here. It made it that much more of a special environment for our guys and it's even more rewarding that we could do it in front of our home crowd."
BRACKETOLOGY: Big Ten crowding tourney
On what's next...
"We've got five games left. We did something special, but we don't want to go into the playoffs not playing well. There are parts of our game that still need to get better and we just have to keep working to try to become a better possession team. We're starting to show signs of that. We did it at Minnesota, not so much at Penn State, but we were better tonight possessing the puck. That's going to be crucial for us as we move forward."
On clinching home ice and a bye in the Big Ten tournament...
"Playing at home is a great opportunity for us to have our crowd and our band behind us. The biggest thing for me from a tactical perspective is having last change. It's a really important part of the game. When we get back after we finish our regular season, those last couple games are single-elimination just like the NCAA tournament. When we play in the playoffs, we face a really good team, so we might as well get into that mindset where it's one game at a time."
Notre Dame and Ohio State close out their season series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.