March 15, 2008
Notre Dame, Ind. – The Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn’t make their postseason chances any easier on Friday night at the Joyce Center when they surrendered two first period goals to Ferris State on the way to a tough, 2-1 loss in game one of the second round of the CCHA playoffs. Game two is Saturday night at the Joyce Center at 7:05 p.m.
The Bulldogs scored twice in the first nine minutes and behind the strong goaltending of Mitch O’Keefe held on for the one-goal win. Cody Chupp and Justin Menke scored the early goals for Ferris State while the Irish got their only goal of the night at 19:49 of the first period off the stick of freshman Ben Ryan.
The loss drops Notre Dame to 22-13-4 overall while Ferris State improves to 18-14-5, including 8-2-1 over the last 11 games.
With a first round bye, the Irish got off to a slow start that cost them the game.
“The first 10 minutes were the difference in the game,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson.
“They were better game prepped than we were and it showed. They had the intensity level and we didn’t. We have to start right off the get-go tomorrow. There’s no question about it. It’s still that same bug-a-boo though we have to finish on our chances.”
The Irish did not get their first shot of the game until 6:39 remained in the opening period and had been out shot, 7-0, and out scored 2-0.
Chupp scored his 11th of the season at 4:08 when a bouncing puck found its way through the Notre Dame defense and onto the sophomore’s stick 10-feet in front of Irish netminder Jordan Pearce. Chupp fired a quick wrister that beat Pearce for the 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs would make it 2-0 at 8:32 on the power play with Menke scoring his eighth off an assist from Blair Riley. The duo took turns sliding shots through the goal crease from side-to-side before Menke was able to direct Riley’s feed past Pearce.
“No question it was a disappointing start. I think we may have been too jacked up for the game,” said team captain Mark Van Guilder.
“We kind of hit a wall when we came out in the first period and we lost the game in the first 10 minutes. I think we got that out of our system and have to come out flying tomorrow for sure.”
The Irish finally broke though on the shot clock with a Garrett Regan shot and began to exert pressure on the Ferris State goal as they finished with five shots in the period.
They finally got back into the game in the final minute of the first period. With a delayed penalty called against Ferris State, Pearce got to the bench in favor of a sixth attacker and it paid off for the Irish.
Evan Rankin fed the puck to Kevin Deeth who was able to move it to the right side of the goal to Ryan who jammed it past O’Keefe with 11 seconds remaining in the period to cut the lead to 2-1. The goal was the freshman center’s ninth of the season.
From there, the Bulldogs held on over the final 40 minutes with the defense blocking shots and O’Keefe making the stops anytime Notre Dame was able to break through.
“When we started playing we were all over them when we executed our game plan,” said Van Guilder.
“We have to wear them down and not give them any freebies the way we did early tonight by coming out slow.
Ryan, who had the lone Notre Dame goal said, “There’s really no secret. You have to get gritty and get to the front of the net. The bottom line is that you have to put the puck in the net. If you don’t put the puck in the net, you don’t win. We should have started the game the way we played the rest of the game. When you get down two-nothing in the playoffs, it’s too late because every game is 2-0, 2-1, 3-2 games.”
For the night, the Bulldogs out shot the Irish by a 28-26 margin. O’Keefe finished with 25 saves while Pearce had 26 for Notre Dame. Ferris State was 1-for-1 on the power play while the Irish were 0-for-2.
Notre Dame has its back to the wall and Jackson and his team know it.
“I don’t have to play that card. They know what the situation is,” said Jackson.
“Did I think we played poorly tonight? Maybe the first five-10 minutes, but other than that we didn’t. The way we played the last part of the game, I thought we were much better. We just have to start the same way tomorrow.”
** The last time the Irish came back from a one-game deficit in the CCHA playoffs was in 2002-03 when they lost the first game at Miami and then blanked the RedHawks, 1-0 and 5-0 behind Morgan Cey `05 to move on to the CCHA’s Super 6. They also did it in 2001-02, winning at Nebraska-Omaha.
** Notre Dame’s streak of eight straight sellout crowds came to an end, as Friday’s attendance was 2,504 with a sellout being 2,713.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FFerris State (18-14-5) 2 0 0 - 2#12/#12 Notre Dame (22-13-4) 1 0 0 - 1
ScoringFirst Period: FSU: Cody Chupp 11 (unassisted), 4:08; FSU: Justin Menke 8 (Blair Riley), PPG, 8:32; ND: Ben Ryan 9 (Kevin Deeth, Evan Rankin), EX, 19:49.
Penalties: FSU: 0 for 0 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Second Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: FSU: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 3 for 6 minutes.
Third Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: FSU: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Ferris State 11 - 10 - 7 - 28Notre Dame 5 - 11 - 10 - 26
Goaltender Saves:FSU - Mitch O'Keefe (60:00) 4 - 11 - 10 - 25ND - Jordan Pearce (58:22) 9 - 10 - 7 - 26
Power Plays:FSU: 1 for 1ND: 0 for 2