Oct. 17, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – After getting off to a 1-2-0 start the Notre Dame hockey team was looking for something to get out of its early season funk. The answer appeared in the form of freshman goaltender Mike Johnson, who in his first career start, made 29 saves to blank Providence College, 2-0, in front of a sellout crowd of 2,857 at the Joyce Center on Friday night.
The 5-10, 194-pound Johnson got all the offense he would need in the game from fellow freshman Nick Larson who picked up his first career goal for the game winner and junior Calle Ridderwall who connected for his first goal of the season via the power play in the 2-0 win. The Irish outshot the Friars, 30-29, in the game. Providence goaltender Alex Beaudry stopped 28 of 30 shots in the game.
The victory improved Notre Dame to 2-2-0 on the season while the loss was the first of the year for the Friars who return to Rhode Island with a 2-1-0 record.
With the shutout, Johnson becomes the second Irish goaltender in the last two seasons to pick up a shutout in his first career start. Current senior Tom O’Brien blanked Sacred Heart, 7-0, on Oct. 18, 2008, making 17 saves in his first career win.
“I thought we made some progress tonight,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
“We haven’t been sharp with our passing, our pass receiving and our puck support. The guys really made an effort tonight. They did a better job of paying the price and playing with more discipline. We’re going to have to take baby steps to get where we want to be.”
Johnson gave a good indication on how things would be as he stopped all 12 shots that Providence threw at him as the Friars out shot Notre Dame by a 12-8 margin in the opening stanza with neither team scoring.
In the second period Notre Dame broke through at 10:13 when Larson made a nice play coming from behind the net to the right of Beaudry with the puck on his backhand before he turned to his forehand and tucked a wrist shot under the cross bar for the 1-0 lead and his first career goal.
“They created space for me and gave me a chance to come around and get a shot off top shelf and luckily it went in. It was great to get to bury one.”
From there, Johnson continued to turn away Providence College as he added 13 saves in the second period on the way to protecting the 1-0 lead.
“Mike (Johnson) looked confident and sharp all night,” said Jackson.
“He made the easy saves, but also made some really good saves as well. I saw the same things last year when I saw him play in Cedar Rapids (his junior team). He’s got great feet and he’s learning to play the positional aspect of the game.”
In the third period, Notre Dame got its first two-goal lead of the season and they took the lead via the power play with Ridderwall getting his first of the season at 5:13 of the period.
Center Kevin Deeth was able to get the puck to Ben Ryan in the slot where the junior’s one-timer was blocked in front. The rebound rolled around before it was pushed towards Ridderwall on the left side of the goal and he was able to redirect it past Beaudry for the 2-0 lead. The Irish have now scored at least one power-play goal in every game this season.
From there, the defense locked things down as they limited the Friars to just four shots in the third period to help Johnson lock up his first career shutout.
“The team really played great in front of me tonight,” said Johnson.
“They made my job a lot easier than it could’ve been. I have to tip my hat to them. They really played hard the entire game. They cleared the front of the net and did the tough things to get the job done. The shutout was nice but the win was even better.
Johnson was happy that he made the most of his first chance in the Irish goal.
“I was really excited to get the chance. Playing college hockey has always been my dream,” said the Verona, Wis., native.
“I was a little nervous before the game, but once I got on the ice I felt at home. When I got a couple shots, I was able to get into the game and get into a rhythm.”
On the night, the Irish were 1-for-5 on the power play while Providence was 0-for-2.
The Irish now go on the road as they travel to Boston, Mass., for a Tuesday night contest at Boston University on Oct. 20. Game time from Agganis Arena is 7:00 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
*** IRISH NOTES ***
* To date, the Irish have scored nine goals on the season. Five have come on the power play, one short-handed and three at even strength.
* With four assists on the season, senior Kevin Deeth is now just one point away from his 100th career point at Notre Dame. He has played in 131 career games and has 32 goals and 67 assists for 99 career points. Senior teammate Ryan Thang is just five points away from joining the “Century Club,” as he now has 49 goals and 46 assists for 95 career points.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FProvidence College (2-1-0) 0 0 0 - 0#7/#7 Notre Dame (2-2-0) 0 1 1 - 2
ScoringFirst Period: No Scoring.Penalties: PC: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 0 for 0 minutes.
Second Period: ND: Nick Larson 1 (Ben Ryan, Kyle Lawson), 10:13.
Penalties: PC: 2 for 4 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Third Period: ND: Calle Ridderwall 1 (B. Ryan, Kevin Deeth), PPG, 5:13.
Penalties: PC: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Providence College 12 - 13 - 4 - 29Notre Dame 8 - 12 - 10 - 30
Goaltender Saves:PC: Alex Beaudry (59:05) 8 - 11 - 9 - 28ND: Mike Johnson (59:44) 12 - 13 - 4 - 29
Power Plays:PC: 0 for 2ND: 1 for 5
Attendance: 2,857 (sellout)