#15 Irish skate past #19 Broncos, 4-1
Four goals in the final 9:19 of the second period lifted fifteenth-ranked Notre Dame to a 4-1 road victory over No. 19 Western Michigan on Sunday inside Lawson Ice Arena.
Alex Steeves led the Irish with a career-high four points on two goals and two assists. Cam Morrison added three points (G, 2A) while Michael Graham added a pair of helpers. Matt Hellickson netted the other Notre Dame marker.
Cale Morris stopped 40 shots to earn the victory in goal. On the weekend, Morris stopped 82 of the 84 shots on goal by the Broncos. Dating back to the third period of Notre Dame’s contest against Penn State on December 14, Morris has now stopped 119 of his last 121 shots against.
Notre Dame (10-7-3) finished 1-for-2 on the power play, while Western Michigan (7-8-3) was 1-for-4 on the man advantage.
How It Happened
Scoring chances were abundant at both ends in the first period, including Trevor Janicke on a two-on-one that was stifled and a quick Alex Steeves wrister through traffic with seven minutes remaining in the period.
With 2:26 left in the first, Notre Dame got the game’s first power play. After several great looks by the Irish, the Broncos were able to work the puck out and create a breakaway chance that resulted in a penalty shot opportunity for the second consecutive game. And for the second straight game Morris was up to the task, this time denying Ethen Frank.
The Irish were unable to break through on the remaining portion of the power play and the teams headed to the locker room still tied at 0-0. Morris totaled 16 saves and Brandon Bussi stopped all seven shots on goal he faced in the stanza.
The Broncos opened the second period with 1:26 remaining on a power play opportunity that the Irish successfully killed off and then had a three-on-two rush but Steeves’ shot was fought off by the blocker of Bussi.
Morris had back-to-back point blank pad saves five minutes into the second to keep the Broncos off the board.
Hellickson then gave the Irish a 1-0 lead at 10:41 of the second when he finished a nice feed from Morrison with a wrister from the high slot that beat Bussi high for his third goal of the season. Graham also assisted on the play.
Just 2:34 later, Alex Steeves doubled the Irish lead when he finished a quick passing sequence by Morrison and Graham from the low slot while Notre Dame was on the power play.
Morrison then made it a 3-0 Notre Dame lead at 16:59 of the second when he tipped in a pass from Steeves along the goal line. Nate Clurman also earned an assist on the tally.
Steeves fired home his second goal of the night off a Graham faceoff win at 18:28 of the second, marking his first career four-point game (two goals, two assists).
In the third, senior Ben Blacker took over in the Bronco net. Blacker was able to deny Spencer Stastney and Tory Dello on back-to-back plays as the Irish killed off a second straight Western Michigan power play midway through the period.
Western Michigan got on the board on their third power-play chance of the third period when Jason Polin scored with just over four minutes remaining in the final frame.
The Broncos were unable to further cut into Notre Dame’s lead as the Irish held on for the 4-1 victory.
Notre Dame returns to Big Ten play for the remainder of the season, beginning with next weekend’s home series versus Michigan (Jan. 10-11).
Game one is slated for 7 p.m. on NBCSN, while game two will feature a 6 p.m. puck drop.
Sophomore forward Jake Pivonka and sophomore defenseman Spencer Statsney returned to the lineup after missing Friday night’s game as they were traveling back from Team USA duty at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, which took place in the Czech Republic.
Sunday afternoon’s game marked Notre Dame’s eighth consecutive game against a ranked opponent and the 12th game versus a ranked opponent in its last 14 games.
Cale Morris stopped Ethen Frank on a penalty shot late in the first period marking the second consecutive game he stopped a WMU penalty shot (he saved Jason Polin’s attempt in game one of the series).
Morris has now saved three of the four penalty shots he has faced in his Irish career.
Notre Dame scored four goals in the second period, marking the first time this season the Irish have scored four times in a period.
With two goals and two assists, Alex Steeves recorded a career-high four points and notched his fifth career multi-point game (third of the season).
Steeves (4-4-8) and Graham (0-6-6) both own five-game point streaks.
With a goal and two assists for three points, Cam Morrison tied his career high and notched his 15th-career multi-point game (third of the season).
On the weekend, Cale Morris stopped 82 of the 84 shots on goal by the Broncos.
Dating back to the third period of Notre Dame’s contest against Penn State on December 14, Morris has stopped 119 of his last 121 shots