Dec. 13, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – Freshman goaltender Mike Johnson made a career-high 38 saves and the Notre Dame offense got goals from Nick Larson and Calle Ridderwall as the Irish handed Michigan a 2-0 loss on Sunday afternoon in front of a sold-out Joyce Center.
The shutout, Johnson’s second of the season and the team’s third of the year, came with Notre Dame playing without four injured defensemen for the second night in a row due to injuries. A variety of Irish forwards spent time on the blue line as the Notre Dame defense turned things over to their goaltender who held the high-flying Wolverines at bay for 60 minutes.
The win snapped a three-game Irish losing streak, the longest losing streak at Notre Dame since the end of the 2005-06 season; head coach Jeff Jackson’s first in South Bend. The victory returned Notre Dame to the .500 mark as the Irish are now 8-8-4 on the season and 5-5-4-2 in the CCHA, good for 21 points sixth-place in the CCHA standings. Michigan falls to 9-9-0 on the year and the Wolverines are 5-7-0 in conference play, good for 15 points.
“We played the Torpedo,” said Jackson following his second game with the new system.
“We played it better tonight. When you have a chance to practice it, you get better. We only had two days to prepare because we thought (Ian) Cole might be back. It’s hard when you have kids playing back there that aren’t accustomed to being defensemen. It’s awkward on the break out, awkward on the defensive zone coverage. I tried to move guys back there who are accustomed to playing down low in the defensive zone. I tried to use guys who could handle it.”
Jackson continued, “I thought we did okay with it on Friday. I would’ve liked to be more proactive with it. It’s a Torpedo, not a depth charge. Torpedo is an aggressive system, not a passive system. I’m proud of the way the handled it. Hopefully we won’t see it again.”
Johnson, who was pulled in the third period on Friday night at Michigan, showed early on that his teammates could jump on his back as he stopped all 13 shots he faced in the first period while Notre Dame was getting six on Bryan Hogan in the Michigan goal.
“Mike (Johnson) was huge for us. You don’t win without great goaltending,” said Jackson.
“Everyone asked me why I pulled him on Friday. I didn’t want him to be embarrassed. He played well but I wanted to get him out before he gave up another goal. I told him when he got to the bench that `he was starting on Sunday, this wasn’t about your performance. I didn’t want you to lose your confidence.’ He came out here today and responded.”
Notre Dame’s offense also responded in the second period, scoring a pair of goals just over five minutes apart.
With Michigan controlling the puck in the Notre Dame zone, Sheahan moved the puck up the left side to Larson who raced through center ice. At the blue line he fed Minella who slid the puck right back to Larson who snapped a wrist shot from the high slot over Hogan’s stick hand and under the cross bar to give the Irish their first lead since Nov. 28 versus Bowling Green.
The lead would go to 2-0 at 10:48 when Notre Dame capitalized on a five-on-three power-play chance as Ridderwall finished off a nice passing play by rifling a shot past Hogan from the right circle for his 11th goal of the year.
With Brian Lebler and David Wohlberg off for a pair of tripping penalties at 10:06 and 10:23, it took the Irish just 25 seconds to capitalize. Maday moved the puck from the right point to the left to Brett Blatchford. The playmaking defenseman one-timed a pass right back to Ridderwall who wasted little time burying a shot behind Hogan for his seventh power play goal of the year.
From there it was left up to the Notre Dame defense and Johnson to hold the Wolverines off the scoreboard.
“I really didn’t do anything differently from Friday night,” said Johnson.
“I felt really good today and the team was awesome in front of me, especially being down three defensemen. They all worked hard to make my job easier.
In the third period, the Verona, Wis., native stopped all 17 shots he faced to finish the night with 38 saves, three more than his previous best of 34 set in a 3-2 win over Alaska on Nov. 5. For the night, the Irish were out shot, 38-20, as Hogan finished the night with 18 saves. Notre Dame was 1-for-9 on the power play while the Wolverines were 0-for-5.
“We really battled tonight. We had too many turnovers because of the inexperience on the back end,” said Jackson.
“It’s a big win for us just because of the circumstances and our kids battled through it. I give them a lot of credit.”
Both Notre Dame and Michigan now break for finals and the Christmas holidays. The Irish will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 2 when they play host to Colgate in the opening round of the Shillelagh Tournament at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Michigan next plays on Dec. 29 in the opening round of the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena.
** Mike Johnson’s shutout win over Michigan improves his goals-against average to 1.70 and his save percentage to .940 in 12 appearances this year. His goals-against mark is third in the nation while his save percentage is best among all Division I goaltenders.
** Freshman left wing Nick Larson picked up his second goal of the year and his second game winner this season. His first goal and game winner came on Oct. 16 in a 2-0 shutout versus Providence. The goaltender that evening was fellow freshman Mike Johnson.
** Notre Dame and Michigan will meet one more time this season in a home-and-home series to close out the regular season. The teams meet on Thursday, Feb. 25 at Yost Arena and then at the Joyce Center on Saturday, Feb. 27.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FMichigan (9-9-0/5-7-0) 0 0 0 - 0rv/#18 Notre Dame (8-8-4/5-5-4-2) 0 2 0 - 2
First Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: UM: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Penalties: UM: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Third Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: UM: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Michigan 13 - 8 - 17 - 38Notre Dame 6 - 6 - 8 - 20
Goaltender Saves:UM: Bryan Hogan (60:00) 6 - 4 - 8 - 18ND: Mike Johnson (59:46) 13 - 8 - 17 - 38
Power Plays:UM: 0 for 5ND: 1 for 9