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ND shoots its way into CCHA finals

DETROIT — No. 9 Notre Dame will get a chance to drop the curtain on the CCHA Sunday afternoon. The Irish nailed down a spot in the dying conference’s final championship game by beating Ohio State 3-1 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena Saturday.

Sophomore Peter Schneider fights off an Ohio State skater during Saturday's 3-1 Notre Dame win in Detroit.

Notre Dame threw any shot it could muster on Buckeyes senior Brady Hjelle, who won the league’s goaltender of the year award Friday night. Hjelle stopped 41 of them in his final game in an Ohio State uniform, Notre Dame found enough cracks in the armor to advance.

The Irish forwards put together flurries in each period, including seven shots in the first seven minutes of the game and 14 in the final six minutes of the second period. Ohio State, meanwhile, created its share of scoring opportunities, but couldn’t get the puck headed in the right direction. They finished the game with only 17 shots on goal to create a final stat sheet that looked more lopsided than the game.

“We said it all week. Get pucks to the net and get bodies to the net,” said junior T.J. Tynan. “Obviously he stopped a lot of them, but we’re lucky that a few went in and we go the win.”

Tynan scored the game-winner on a power play goal four minutes into the final period. He skated in from the point and snuck a shot past Hjelle’s stick before the senior goalie could find the puck. The goal was the 10th of the year for Tynan and only his second in the past six weeks.

The Irish center was one of the CCHA’s top scorers in his first two seasons at Notre Dame, but has had trouble generating his own scoring chances this year. He carved out enough space on the power play to score a big postseason goal, which broke a 1-1 tie.

The Buckeyes drew first blood with their only goal of the game. It took 10 minutes to get their first shot on net, but Ryan Dzingel made that one count. The sophomore left wing beat Irish junior Steven Summerhays after trading passes with freshman Anthony Greco to give the Buckeyes an early lead.

Notre Dame’s fourth line answered less than a minute later on a 3-on-1 odd man rush. Sophomore Peter Schneider kept the puck and fired a wrist shot low and hard past Hjelle’s glove to the far side of the net.

“Obviously Peter’s goal after Ohio State scored was huge for us to get our confidence right back,” head coach Jeff Jackson said. “Responding when you have the first goal against is important for us.”

Schneider and his freshmen line mates Steven Fogarty and Thomas DiPauli provided a burst of energy for Notre Dame after the early goal and throughout the rest of the game. He had another scoring chance in the second period on a rebound opportunity.

“I think our line played pretty well today, but so did the rest of the team,” Schneider said. “We showed a great effort today. We cycled the puck and kept it along the walls.”

After Schneider's goal Summerhays stopped the other 16 shots he faced. His closest call was a backhanded chance for Buckeyes junior Alex Lippincott in the second period. Lippincott's shot ricocheted off of Summerhays' pad and off the far post then dribbled along the goal line for a few seconds before the Irish goalie was able to kick it aside.

Junior left wing Jeff Costello cinched the win with an empty net goal, his 11th of the year, with 1:05 left in the game.

Notre Dame will be back at Joe Louis Arena Sunday afternoon to play the winner of the Miami and Michigan semifinal for a last Mason Cup. A win would be the fifth CCHA tournament championship of Jackson’s career and his third at Notre Dame. That game is scheduled to begin at 2:05 p.m.

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