Oct. 11, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – After dropping a tough, 3-2 decision to Alabama-Huntsville on Friday night, Irish hockey fans could figure that Notre Dame would come out firing on Saturday night and that’s exactly what they did in taking a 3-1 win from the Chargers in front of a sellout crowd of 2,715 at the Joyce Center.
The Irish peppered Alabama-Huntsville goaltender Cameron Talbot with 51 shots on the night and saw three of them – goals by defensemen Brett Blatchford and Kyle Lawson and one by forward Kyle Palmieri – find the back of the net to give Notre Dame a weekend split.
The 51-shot night was the most by the Irish since March 23, 2007 when they had 53 shots against Alabama-Huntsville in a double-overtime game in the NCAA Tournament. Junior center Neil Ruffini had the Chargers only goal of the night as Notre Dame had a 51-14 shot advantage on the night. Senior goaltender Tommy O’Brien made 13 saves in picking up his second career victory.
The win improves the Irish to 1-1-0 on the year while Alabama-Huntsville goes to 1-1-0 on the season.
“I thought that we played with more determination and executed the little things we needed to do,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson.
“As long as we aren’t turning the puck over, I’m a happy guy. Last night we didn’t do that. We got a little loose in the second period tonight and it gave Alabama life.”
Notre Dame got on the scoreboard first just 1:57 into the game on a power-play goal from an unlikely source – Blatchford, a senior defenseman who usually sets up goals more than scoring them. The power-play playmaker took a feed from Lawson in the high slot and drilled a shot past Talbot to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. The goal was the third of his career to go with 54 assists and was his first in 99 games, going back to Jan. 20, 2007 against Western Michigan in his freshman year.
That would be the only goal the Irish would get in the opening period as they out shot the Chargers by a 16-3 advantage.
Alabama-Huntsville would get the equalizer just 2:01 into the second period as Ruffini forced a turnover at the Notre Dame blue line and raced down the right side, tossing a backhander over O’Brien from the bottom of the right circle for his first of the season and a 1-1 tie.
The Irish would wait until the final minute of the second period to take the lead for good. Blatchford was given a five-minute major for checking from behind at 15:36 and while Notre Dame was killing the penalty Alabama-Huntsville took back-to-back penalties 29 seconds apart to help kill off part of the man advantage. The second penalty came to an end, putting the Chargers back on the power play when Lawson fired a shot from the left boards that went off Talbot’s skate for the game winner short-handed.
Ian Cole’s big slap shot from the right point set the play in motion as he missed the net to the right of Talbot only to have the rebound go to Lawson who had moved in from his spot on the left point.
“I know that Colesy (Ian Cole) has a big shot and he just let one rip. It came through the seams right to me and I just shot it at the open net and put it in off his skate,” said Lawson.
“That was a big goal when we got it. Last night they got the lucky bounce on a goal and tonight we did. We’ll take them when we get them. It was a big goal when we got it and we take them when we get them.”
Lawson’s goal was the only one the Irish would score in the period as they out shot UAH by a 17-9 margin in the middle period.
The final goal by Palmieri provided insurance for Notre Dame. The freshmen sniper picked up his second goal in as many games at 12:28, whipping a Kevin Deeth feed from the left circle past Talbot to make it 3-1.
“All the credit goes to my linemates on that goal,” said Palmieri.
From there, the Irish continued to apply pressure but could not score, out shooting the Chargers, 18-2, in the third period for the 51-14 final margin.
“Tonight was more like Irish hockey,” said Jackson about giving up just 14 shots on goal.
“Last night we were loose with the puck and gave up 30 shots. Tonight we did a better job protecting the puck and gave up 14 shots. Like Kyle (Lawson) said, `we are a puck possession team’ first and then defend second.
The Irish will return to action next Thursday and Friday, October 15-16 when they play host to the Providence College Friars in a pair of 7:35 p.m. games. The Friars are 1-0 on the season after opening with a 2-1 win over Holy Cross on Saturday night.
*** IRISH NOTES ***
* The two teams combined for 25 penalties and 69 minutes in penalty time on Saturday night. Alabama-Huntsville was called for 13 penalties for 26 minutes while the Irish were whistled down 12 times for 43 minutes. The Irish were 1-for-10 on the power play while the Chargers were 0-for-8.
* Freshman Kyle Palmieri led Notre Dame with 14 shots on the weekend as he took seven in each game, resulting in a pair of goals.
* The Joyce Center crowd of 2,715 was the 11th consecutive sellout crowd for Notre Dame dating back to Dec. 13, 2008 versus Bowling Green. A sellout is 2,713 with standing room allowing capacity to reach 2,857.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FAlabama-Huntsville (1-1-0) 0 1 0 - 1#5/#5 Notre Dame (1-1-0) 1 1 1 - 3
ScoringFirst Period: ND: Brett Blatchford 1 (Kyle Lawson, Billy Maday), PPG, 1:57.
Penalties: UAH: 5 for 10 minutes; ND: 5 for 10 minutes.
Second Period: UAH: Neil Ruffini 1 (unassisted), 2:01; ND: Kyle Lawson 1 (Ian Cole, Ben Ryan), SHG, 19:33.
Penalties: UAH: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 4 for 19 minutes.
Third Period: ND: Kyle Palmieri 2 (Kevin Deeth, Ryan Thang), 12:28.
Penalties: UAH: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 3 for 14 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Alabama-Huntsville 3 - 9 - 2 - 14Notre Dame 16 - 17 - 18 - 51
Goaltender Saves:UAH: Cameron Talbot (60:00) 15 - 16 - 17 - 48ND: Tommy O'Brien (59:57) 3 - 8 - 2 - 13
Power Plays:UAH: 0 for 8ND: 1 for 10
Attendance: 2,715 (sellout)