Nov. 18, 2006
Final Stats | Highlights
Notre Dame, Ind. – It had been over seven years since Notre Dame’s Joyce Center rink had seen a game that featured a game featuring two teams ranked among the nation’s top-10 teams. That drought came to an on Friday night in front of a sell-out crowd of 2,763 as the #6/#5-ranked Irish handed #4/#4 Michigan State a 4-1 win.
Senior center Jason Paige led Notre Dame’s offense with a pair of goals while Justin White and Brock Sheahan each scored their first collegiate goals. Senior goaltender David Brown picked up his eighth win of the year by making 26 saves, including 19 in the second period in the win. Bryan Lerg scored the lone Spartan goal to snap Brown’s shutout bid.
The win ran Notre Dame’s unbeaten streak to nine games (8-0-1) and improved the Irish to 9-1-1 overall and 4-0-1 in CCHA play. Michigan State fell to 5-3-1 overall and 3-3-1 in league action. The Notre Dame win ended the Spartans’ five-game winning streak versus the Irish. The last Notre Dame win came on Dec. 10, 2004, a 3-2 overtime win.
Irish head coach Jeff Jackson felt that his team was ready for the challenge of playing one of the nation’s top teams.
“I felt we were confident going in. Everyone wants to make something out of the way we are playing, but this is a different team. We can compete with anyone if everyone plays the way we can,” said Jackson.
“I thought tonight would be a matter of our third and fourth lines outplaying their third and fourth lines. Their first two lines are extremely good and I don’t think that we can match up with their first two lines. I thought we could overmatch them with our third and fourth lines and I think we did that to a degree.”
The Irish had their way in the first period, but failed to score as they outshot the Spartans by a 14-4 margin, but failed to dent Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg who was able to stop everything that was thrown at him.
In the second, Notre Dame would score three times in a 3:19 span to break open the game. Paige started the scoring at 7:30 when he drove hard to the net and managed to jam the rebound of a Noah Babin shot past Lerg. The goal, Paige’s fourth of the season went to a review as he crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings but the goal would count.
Paige was back at it again at 10:35 when he scored on the power play to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead. Defenseman Wes O’Neill fired a shot from the right point that was partially blocked through the slot. Josh Sciba redirected off his skate to Paige who one-timed a shot past Lerg from the bottom of the left wing circle.
“I was just in the right place at the right time on both the goals,” said Paige. “The puck just happened to come where I was both times and I just had to put it into the open net twice.”
The lead would go to 3-0 just 14 seconds later when White got the first of his career at 10:49 when he redirected a Dan VeNard slapshot through Lerg’s pads for the goal.
While the Irish were getting 12 shots in the period, Michigan State was pouring 19 shots on Brown, including a late breakaway the Spartans Chris Mueller to preserve the shutout.
The Spartans would finally break through on Brown at 6:20 when Bryan Lerg took a centering pass from Dan Sturges and fired a shot off the Irish goaltender’s pads to make it a 3-1 game. The goal was Lerg’s sixth of the season.
Sheahan closed out the scoring with his first career goal at 12:53 off assists to Erik Condra and Ryan Thang. Sheahan’s wrist shot from the left point snuck in over Lerg’s catching glove just under the crossbar for the 4-1 final score.
The Irish outshot Michigan State by a 31-27 margin in the game. Lerg finished with 27 saves in the game.
The two teams meet again on Saturday night at Munn Arena in East Lansing, Mich. Game time is 7:05 p.m. as the Irish look to sweep the series.
“We still have to learn to win games like this,” said Jackson. “They really haven’t experienced games like this. They have to win games like this to gain confidence against better teams. Tomorrow night (Saturday) will be another challenge, the weekend is only half over. I don’t want them to be satisfied with just two points.”
** Notre Dame has either been tied or led for all but 5:56 in 11 games this season. The Irish trailed Minnesota State, 2-1, for 5:42 in the second period on Oct. 14. They then trailed Bowling Green for 14 seconds on Nov. 10.
** The 9-1-1 start for Notre Dame is the best start for the Irish since 1998-99 when they started that season with a 9-1-1 record.
** For the 10th time in the first 11 games this season, Notre Dame did not give up a goal in the first period.
** Senior left wing Josh Sciba extended his point streak to a career-best six games with an assist on Paige’s second goal of the game. He has two goals and four assists in the streak. Defenseman Dan VeNard ran his point streak to three games with an assist on Justin White’s goal. He now has three assists on the year, a career high for points and assists for the junior defenseman.
Summary: 1 2 3 - F#4/#4 Michigan State (5-3-1/3-3-1) 0 0 1 - 1#6/#5 Notre Dame (9-1-1/4-0-1) 0 3 1 - 4
First Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: MSU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 0 for 0 minutes.
Penalties: MSU: 3 for 14 minutes; ND: 3 for 6 minutes.
Penalties: MSU: 1 for 5 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Shots on Goal:Michigan State 4 - 19 - 4 - 27Notre Dame: 14 - 12 - 5 - 31
Saves:Michigan State: Jeff Lerg (60:00) 14 - 9 - 4 - 27Notre Dame: David Brown (60:00) 4 - 19 - 3 - 26
Power Plays:Michigan State: 0 for 5Notre Dame: 1 for 3
Attendance: 2,763 (sellout)