Feb. 9, 2008
Notre Dame, Ind. – The Notre Dame hockey team got their 2007-08 stretch drive off on the wrong foot Friday night as the Irish surrendered three, third-period goals to the Ferris State Bulldogs, dropping a 5-3 decision in front of a sold-out Joyce Center.
Casey Haines snapped a 2-2 tie with his third goal of the season and Todd Pococke scored his first of the year less than two minutes later to build a 4-2 lead for the Bulldogs. Erik Condra’s goal at 9:30 cut the lead to one before Justin Lewandowski closed the scoring with an insurance marker at 18:06 to seal the win for Ferris State.
The loss drops the eighth-ranked Irish to 20-10-1 on the year and 13-7-1 in the CCHA while the Bulldogs go to 11-12-4 overall and 8-10-3 in the conference. Since the start of the second half of the season (Dec. 29), Notre Dame is 4-6-1.
“It wasn’t pretty. That may have been one of the worst games we’ve played all season long,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson.
“Give Ferris credit for playing a tactically good game. They were the better coached team and the better prepared team tonight.”
Things started well for the Irish as Kevin Deeth gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead at 11:56 of the first period on a power-play goal. Condra carried the puck out off the left wing boards and slid it in front to Ryan Thang who fired a shot that was stopped by Bulldog goaltender Mitch O’Keefe. Deeth was there to jam the rebound home for his eighth goal of the season.
Ferris State got the equalizer at 16:12 off a turnover in the Irish zone. Cody Chupp carried the puck behind the Notre Dame goal and centered a pass to Blair Riley in the low slot. Riley ripped a shot past Jordan Pearce under the crossbar for his ninth goal of the season and the score was tied 1-1 after one period.
The Bulldogs out shot the Irish 16-7 in the opening period and Pearce did his best to keep the game at 1-1.
“We didn’t value the puck very well tonight,” said Jackson. “I didn’t think we executed very well. The bottom line is that I just didn’t have them ready to play. They didn’t execute from the beginning and they tried to get it going late, but even the goals in the end were bad.”
Ferris State took their first lead of the game at 1:17 of the second stanza when Mike Fillinger scored on the power play off a Jim Jorgensen set up. For Fillinger it was his fifth goal of the year.
It would take until the 19:27 mark of the second for Notre Dame to tie the game with the goal coming off the stick of defenseman Brock Sheahan. Defenseman Teddy Ruth moved the puck to the right wing corner where Ryan Guentzel picked it up and fed it back to Sheahan at the point. The senior blueliner fired a shot that beat O’Keefe to tie the game at 2-2. The goal was Sheahan’s first of the season.
“I’m not a guy who scores a lot of goals, so to be honest it doesn’t feel very good right now because we didn’t win the game,” said Sheahan.
“That was a game that we needed to win. As one of the leaders, that’s something that we have to do – Make sure that we are ready to play and for some reason we weren’t tonight. I don’t know why.”
Things started falling apart in the third. Off an Irish flurry in the Ferris State zone, Haines broke out of the zone, carried the puck down the right wing boards and fired a shot from the right circle through a defenseman’s legs. The shot beat Pearce to the far post and Haines had given the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead at 6:01.
Pococke made it 4-2 with his first goal as he scored off a face off to the right of Pearce. Aaron Lewicki won the draw and Pococke picked up the puck off the left boards. He carried it through the circle and fired a shot that was blocked. He was able to get the loose puck and fire another shot that beat Pearce from the hashmarks at 7:56.
Condra gave the Irish some hope when his centering bid went off a Ferris State defenseman’s skate and deflected past O’Keefe at 9:30 to cut the lead to 4-3. Sheahan and Thang picked up assists on Condra’s 12th goal of the year.
The Bulldogs would wrap up the scoring at 18:06 when Lewandowski fired the rebound of a Brendan Connolly shot past Pearce for his sixth of the season and the 5-3 verdict.
On the night, Ferris State out shot Notre Dame by a 36-31 margin. Pearce finished the night with 31 saves while O’Keefe had 28 in the victory.
The Irish will have a chance to rebound on Saturday night as the two teams meet in a 7:05 p.m. contest at the Joyce Center. With seven regular season games left on the docket, Notre Dame has to get back on track.
“I know the value of these games,” said Jackson. “As a team, we need to understand that every time we lose a game like this it puts us in further jeopardy of getting to Joe Louis or getting to the NCAA Tournament. We’re putting ourselves in a pretty dangerous situation.”
Sheahan also knows the value of these late-season games.
“We need to make sure we are ready to play tomorrow,” said Sheahan.
“Since we came back from Christmas we haven’t played the way we need to on a consistent basis. It changes shift after shift. We need to show more pride in the Notre Dame jersey by the way we play.”
** Brock Sheahan’s goal snapped a 34-game goal-less drought for the senior defenseman. It also made 2,853 fans happy as they all received a coupon good for a free Big Mac as part of a promotion with McDonald’s for when a player scored in the final minute of the second period. The two-point game was also the second of his career.
** The last time a Notre Dame goaltender gave up five goals or more in a game came on Nov. 4, 2005 when David Brown gave up seven goals in an 8-5 loss to Michigan.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FFerris State (11-12-4/8-10-3) 1 1 3 - 5#8/#8 Notre Dame (20-10-1/13-7-1) 1 1 1 - 3
Penalties: FSU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Penalties: FSU: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Third Period: FSU: Casey Haines 3 (Chris Zarb, Mitch O’Keefe), 6:01; FSU: Todd Pococke 1 (Aaron Lewicki), 7:56; ND: Condra 12 (Sheahan, Thang), 9:30; FSU: Justin Lewandowski 6 (Brendan Connolly, Adam Miller), 18:06.
Penalties: FSU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 4 for 16 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Ferris State 16 - 10 - 10 - 36Notre Dame 7 - 13 - 11 - 31
Goaltender Saves:FSU - Mitch O'Keefe (60:00) 6 - 12 - 10 - 28ND - Jordan Pearce (59:02) 15 - 9 - 7 - 31
Power Plays:FSU: 1 for 6ND: 1 for 4
Attendance: 2,857 (sellout)