Dec. 9, 2006
Ann Arbor, Mich. – In a game that featured the nation’s best defense against the third-best offense in the country you figured something would have to give when Notre Dame met Michigan Friday night at Yost Arena.
The Irish showed that good defense can stop a great offense as Notre Dame handed Michigan a 7-3 loss at Yost Arena for just the third Irish win in Ann Arbor in the last 24 meetings and the first since the 2002-03 campaign. The seven-goal outburst by the Irish was the most goals they’ve scored against the Wolverines since a 9-5 win on Oct. 22, 1982, a span of 54 games.
Sophomore right wing Erik Condra paced the Irish attack with a goal and three assists for four points as seven different Notre Dame players – Tom Sawatske, Garrett Regan, Condra, Josh Sciba, Kevin Deeth, Christian Hanson and Evan Rankin – scored in the win. Andrew Cogliano, Brandon Naurato and Chad Kolarik scored for Michigan.
The win, the third in a row for the fifth-ranked Irish, moves them to 13-3-1 overall and 8-2-1 in CCHA play. Seventh-ranked Michigan falls to 12-6-0 on the year and 8-4-0 in conference action.
“Winning a game here (Yost Arena) is valuable for our team’s confidence,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “This team has had a tough go of it against Michigan over the last two years and longer. It’s important for our team to know that we can play with them. We just need to learn to skate with them a little more, that’s our challenge. Having success tonight was important. We’ll worry about Sunday when the day comes.”
Notre Dame wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Sawatske scored at 1:08 of the first period with his first goal of the season. The senior defenseman drilled a shot from the right point that beat Michigan goaltender Billy Sauer low and inside the right post to give the Irish the early lead.
Michigan came on strong following the goal and out shot the Irish 8-2 until late in the period, but as has been the case this season, Irish goaltender David Brown stood tall until Notre Dame’s offense got into gear. Brown’s biggest save in the period came with just over seven minutes left in the period on a power play when he robbed Cogliano from the doorstep to keep the Irish in the lead.
“That’s my role, to do whatever I can to help the team win,” said Brown. “Those were a couple of big saves for us. They helped us weather the storm and that helped get us going. They are a very offensively talented team but our defense did a good job of shutting them down.”
The Irish would get a late power-play chance of their own in the first period and were able to capitalize. Freshman defenseman Brett Blatchford (three assists) took a shot from the point that Sauer stopped. Regan fought off a Michigan defender and flipped a backhander over Sauer for his fourth goal of the year at 19:27 to send Notre Dame to the intermission with a 2-0 lead.
The Wolverines would cut that lead to 2-1 just 11 seconds into the second stanza when Cogliano got his 13th of the season off a turnover along the right wing boards. Defenseman Matt Hunwick took the loose puck and found the Wolverine goal leader in front of the net. He was able to lift a backhander past Brown to make it a 2-1 lead.
As was the case all night, the Irish answered quickly scoring just 2:16 later on a Condra power-play goal at 2:27 for a 3-1 lead. “We were on a four-on-three power play and worked the puck back to the point,” said Condra. “We got a good shot on goal and the rebound came right out to me and I buried it.”
Michigan would cut the lead to 3-2 at 12:10 on a Naurato power-play goal but the Irish answered again just 1:14 later when Sciba deflected a Blatchford shot past Sauer for his fifth of the year at 13:14 to give Notre Dame the two-goal lead at 4-2.
“This team has been funny the way they’ve answered this year. It seems when we get scored on, we have the ability to come back,” said Jackson. “I don’t know why, but I think a big part is that our depth is pretty good, so we can give up a goal and come back with another good line that can score. It’s a momentum goal and our guys have been able to respond to it this year.”
Deeth would close out the second-period scoring at 18:40 with his eighth goal of the year as his centering pass intended for Ryan Thang went off a defenseman’s skate and into the goal behind Sauer to give the Irish a 5-2 lead.
That lead would go to 6-2 when Hanson banged home a rebound off a Blatchford shot in front for his fourth goal of the season at 7:18 of the third.
Kolarik cut the lead to 6-3 at 13:54 when he rammed a Kevin Porter centering pass from behind the net past Brown for his 12th goal of the season.
Rankin answered back just 17 seconds later when he took a lead pass from Condra and beat Sauer’s third-period replacement Steve Jakiel with a nifty move and a backhander for his 2nd goal in as many games and the season for the 7-2 final.
Michigan out shot Notre Dame, 29-22 in the game. Brown finished with 26 saves while Sauer made 11 in 40 minutes and Jakiel had four stops in the final 20 minutes.
The two teams will close out the home-and-home series on Sunday after noon at the Joyce Center. Game time is 3:05 p.m. for a game that will be televised by ESPNU.
“This was a big step for our team to end the semester and get us headed into the second half,” said Jackson. “We have to be ready for Sunday. They’ll be raring to go again. Michigan is a good hockey team. We’ll have a battle on our hands at the Joyce Center.”
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FNotre Dame (13-3-1/8-2-1) 2 3 2 - 7Michigan (12-6-0/8-4-0) 0 2 1 - 3
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; UM: 2 for 4 minutes.
Second Period: UM: Andrew Cogliano 13 (Matt Hunwick), 00:11; ND: Condra 6 (Noah Babin, Kyle Lawson), PPG, 2:17; UM: Brandon Naurato 6 (Travis Turnbull, Mark Mitera), PPG, 12:10; ND: Josh Sciba 5 (Blatchford, T.J. Jindra), 13:14; ND: Kevin Deeth 8 (Ryan Thang, Condra), 18:40.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; UM: 3 for 6 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; UM: 3 for 6 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 5 - 11 - 6 - 22Michigan 9 - 13 - 7 - 29
Goaltender Saves:ND - David Brown (60:00) 9 - 11 - 6 - 26UM - Billy Sauer (40:00) 3 - 8 - x - 11 Steve Jakiel (20:00) x - x - 4 - 2
Power Plays:ND: 2 for 7UM: 1 for 7