Nov. 14, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – For the first 10 games of the 2009-10 season, scoring goals has been a struggle for Notre Dame as the Irish averaged just 2.30 goals-per-game. Despite out shooting Northern Michigan on Saturday night at the Joyce Center, 38-18, the Irish scored just twice to fall to the Wildcats, 3-2 in front of a sell out crowd of 2,721.
Senior Kevin Deeth and junior Calle Ridderwall were the only to Notre Dame shooters to dent Northern Michigan goaltender Brian Stewart who picked up his first win of the season with a 36-save night. Jared Brown, Ray Kaunisto and Matt Butcher did the scoring for the Wildcats who converted on three of 18 shots against Irish freshman Mike Johnson who was making his third consecutives start in the Notre Dame goal.
The loss, the second in a row for the eighth-ranked Irish drops them to 5-5-1 overall and 2-2-1-0 in the CCHA, good for seven points in conference play. Northern Michigan improves to 3-5-1 on the year and 2-3-0-0 in the league. The Irish loss also snapped a five-game winning streak versus the Wildcats.
“I thought we played well, we played hard tonight,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
“We executed well and did a good job of getting to the net, crashing the net looking to score dirty goals. (Brian) Stewart played well. You have to give him credit. Northern played well; they played a good road game. You have to give them their due. They are a pretty good hockey team.”
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard first as Brown notched his first goal of the season at the 3:24 mark of the opening period cashing in on a two-on-one against the Irish defense.
Defenseman Kyle Follmer fed the puck ahead to Chad Pietila who moved it ahead to Brown inside the Irish defensive zone. Brown beat Johnson between his pads for the opening goal of the night and the 1-0 lead for Northern Michigan.
The Wildcats made it 2-0 at the 12:11 mark of the period when Kaunisto whipped a wrist shot from the slot beating Johnson over his glove had for his third goal of the season.
Defenseman Erik Spady moved the puck from the right point to his partner TJ Miller on the left side. Miller found Kaunisto all alone in the slot and the 6-4 senior left wing spun around and beat Johnson to put the Irish down a pair of goals.
The Irish would cut that lead in half at the 14:02 mark of the period as Deeth got his first goal of the year, a power-play tally that made it 2-1 after the opening period of play. The goal was Deeth’s first in 25 games as his last goal came on Jan. 17, 2009 at Lake Superior State.
Ridderwall moved the puck to the left point to defenseman Brett Blatchford who redirected a pass to Deeth near the right wing boards. Deeth moved to the inside of the circle where he blasted a shot past Stewart for Notre Dame’s 13th power-play goal in the first 11 games.
“I thought we battled a lot harder tonight; we played with the most jam we’ve had all season,” said Deeth.
“That’s something we can look back on, but it wasn’t good enough. We were grittier around the net, but we scored just two goals on the night. We have to find ways to score. I guess we have to get back to basics and get gritty in front and whack some dirty ones in before we get a clean one.
The Irish would control the action in the second period with a 15-6 edge in the shots on goal, but Stewart and the Wildcats held them off the scoreboard as the score remained 2-1 heading into the third period.
In the third period, Northern Michigan would take advantage of its fourth power-play chance of the night as Butcher gave the Wildcats a two-goal lead at 5:09 with his first goal of the season.
Center Mark Olver won a face off back to defenseman Erik Gustafsson at the right point. The junior defenseman moved the puck to the right wing boards to Butcher who walked the puck out of the corner and tucked a shot inside the right post to make it 3-1.
“Tonight, I thought we played one of our better games of the season. When you aren’t getting offensive production, every little mistake is magnified whether its a turnover, a missed face-off assignment or a penalty, its magnified and the goaltenders are under that pressure too,” said Jackson.
Notre Dame would get a chance to get back in the game with a minute-and-two-seconds of a 5-on-3 power play that saw the Irish get four shots on goal but Stewart held them off the scoreboard.
“The five-on-three hurt us. You want to capitalize on those situations,” said Jackson.
“We had opportunities to do more on the power play, I though. That could have been the difference tonight.”
The Irish continued to battle and were able to cut the lead to 3-2 when Ridderwall hammered a shot past Stewart for his fifth goal of the season at the 11:44 mark of the third period.
“They turned it over and it got passed down to me,” said Ridderwall who had a goal and an assist in the game.
“Everyone was going the other way. When I saw that I had an open shot, I just took it and it went in. We had some pretty good scoring chances and should have had more than two goals.”
From there Stewart slammed the door on the Irish who out shot the Wildcats, 10-5, in the third period but handed Notre Dame its fourth one-goal loss of the season, a 3-2 final decision.
The Irish will look to find their goal scoring touch on Sunday afternoon when the two teams close out the series in a game at the Joyce Center that will start at 4:05 p.m.
** IRISH NOTES **
* A year ago, Notre Dame was 11-2 in one-goal games and with the 3-2 loss on Saturday night; the Irish saw their record in one-goal games fall to 1-4 on the year.
* The loss drops Notre Dame to 3-4-1 at the Joyce Center this season. The Irish were 13-3-2 at home in 2008-09 and prior to this season had lost just nine games over the previous three seasons.
* Junior center Ben Ryan saw his career-best, point-scoring streak snapped at seven games. During the streak, he had three goals and six assists for nine points.
* Through the first 11 games of the 2009-10 season, Notre Dame has scored 25 goals for a 2.27 goals-per game average. Of those 25 goals, only 11 have come at even strength as the Irish have 13 power-play goals and one short-handed tally for their total of 25.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FNorthern Michigan (3-5-1/2-3-0-0) 2 0 1 - 3#8/#8 Notre Dame (5-5-1/2-2-1-0) 1 0 1 - 2
Penalties: NMU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 0 for 0 minutes.
Second Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: NMU: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 4 for 8 minutes.
Penalties: NMU: 2 for 4 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Northern Michigan 7 - 6 - 5 - 18Notre Dame 13 - 15 - 10 - 38
Goaltender Saves:NMU - Brian Stewart (60:00) 12 - 15 - 9 - 36ND - Mike Johnson (59:30) 5 - 6 - 4 - 15
Power Plays:NMU: 1 for 4ND: 1 for 5
Attendance: 2,721 (sellout)