Dec. 31, 2006
Notre Dame, Ind. – The third-ranked Notre Dame hockey team rang out the 2006 portion of the season by scoring three third-period goals to defeat the Northern Michigan Wildcats, 4-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 2,763 at the Joyce Center. The win gave the Irish a sweep of the Wildcats and a 6-0 record in the month of December.
Four different Notre Dame players – T.J. Jindra, Garrett Regan, Jason Paige and Mark Van Guilder – scored for the Irish to offset a pair of goals by Northern Michigan’s Mike Santorelli in a game. Only one goal was scored in the first two periods before the teams combined for five goals in the final stanza.
The six-game winning streak improves Notre Dame to 16-3-1 overall and 11-2-1 in CCHA play and moved the Irish into sole possession of first place in the conference standings, two points ahead of second-place Miami. This is the latest in a season that the Irish have been in first in CCHA action. The loss, the seventh straight for Northern Michigan, dropped the Wildcats to 7-12-2 overall and 4-9-1 in the CCHA.
“We knew coming in that Northern would be a tough team to play against and the fact that they haven’t won in a few games makes them more desperate,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. “They are a much better team than their record indicates. They are gritty and well-coached. They don’t give you an inch and they keep coming at you. We were fortunate this weekend, especially yesterday.”
Notre Dame scored first in the game and never trailed. The Irish got on the board at 4:22 of the opening stanza on senior captain T.J. Jindra’s first goal of the season. Jindra whipped the rebound of a Josh Sciba shot from the slot past Wildcat goaltender Bill Zanaboni to give the Irish and early lead. The goal was Jindra’s first since Nov. 26 of last season.
“I’ve never been much of a goal scorer,” said Jindra. “It was nice to finally score a goal but it was one goal and we got the win. That’s what was the most important thing today.”
The score stayed 1-0 until the 4:35 mark of the third period. Until then Zaniboni held the Irish at bay, making 17 saves over the first two periods. Irish goaltender David Brown only had to face nine Wildcat shots over the first two periods.
“David made some key saves for us today,” said Jackson. He didn’t have a lot of work and it’s tough to play when we are only giving up nine shots in two periods. He’s learning how to deal with it. He came up big though for us in the third period.”
Sophomore left wing Garrett Regan ended the scoring drought with a nice defensive play early in the third period. He stepped in front of a Northern Michigan pass in the neutral zone and was able to split a pair of Wildcat defenseman to go in on a breakaway on Zaniboni. Regan deked the Wildcat goaltender to the ice and slid the puck by him for his seventh goal of the year at 4:35.
Northern Michigan answered back just over two minutes later when Santorelli scoring on a rebound of a Rob Lehtinen shot a 6:38 for his 13th goal of the season.
Brown protected the one-goal lead until the Irish could score again at 17:09. This time freshman Dan Kissel, making his first appearance since December 2, raced down the left side and found Evan Rankin in the slot. Rankin’s shot was stopped but the rebound came out in front where Jason Paige flipped it over Zaniboni for his seventh goal of the season ad a 3-1 Notre Dame lead. The Wildcats got the break they needed to get back in the game when Ryan Thang was whistled off for interference with 2:09 left in the game. Coach Walt Kyle pulled his goaltender in favor of a sixth attacker and the move paid off when Santorelli scored on a rebound from the slot after Brown made stops on Darin Olver and Nick Sirota.
“It was frustrating to give up the late goal. We can’t keep taking bad penalties late in the game,” said Brown. “It’s cost us before and tonight they scored on the six-on-four. We were fortunate tonight and I’m glad we got the win.”
Zaniboni remained on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker and this time the Irish benefited as Van Guilder knocked down a pass inside the Northern zone and was able to fire the puck into an empty net at 19:51 to seal the big 4-2 win for the Irish. The goal was his team-high 13th of the season.
Despite the weekend sweep, Jindra knows that the Irish are still a work in progress coming off the Christmas break.
“There were some things that didn’t go too well this weekend after taking two weeks off that we need to shake the rust off,” said Jindra. “We have another week to prepare. It takes awhile to get back in the groove, so that’s what we’ll look to do this week.
The Irish out shot the Wildcats by a 27-18 margin in the game. Zaniboni finished with 23 saves while Brown had 16 as he recorded his single-season career-high 15th win.
Notre Dame returns to action next weekend with a home-and-home non-conference series against the Robert Morris Colonials. The two teams will meet on Friday, Jan. 5 in Pittsburgh at Mellon Arena in an 8:05 p.m. game. They return to South Bend for a 4:05 p.m. game at the Joyce Center on Sunday, Jan. 7.
** The Irish are now 8-0-0 at home and 6-0-0 in December. The current six-game winning streak is the longest for the Irish since a six-game win streak from Oct. 2 to Oct. 23, 1998. The last time the Irish won eight straight at home came between Nov. 23, 1990 and Jan. 26, 1991. That team won 12 in a row at home.
** Notre Dame goaltender David Brown has now started 15 straight games in a row for the Irish and has now played in 24 of Notre Dame’s last 25 games dating back to last season.
** The Irish are currently 11-2-1 in the CCHA. The 11 conference wins equal last year’s total in CCHA play. In 17 seasons in the CCHA, the Irish have won 11 or more games in nine of those 17 seasons.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FNorthern Michigan (7-12-2/4-9-1) 0 0 2 - 2Notre Dame (16-3-1/11-2-1) 1 0 3 - 4
Penalties: NMU: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Second Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: NMU: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Third Period: ND: Garrett Regan 7 (Unassisted), 4:25; NMU: Mike Santorelli 14 (Rob Lehtinen, TJ Miller), 6:38; ND: Jason Paige 7 (Evan Rankin, Dan Kissel), 17:09; NMU: Santorelli 15 (Nick Sirota, Darin Olver), PPG, 19:16; ND: Mark Van Guilder 13 (unassisted), ENG, 19:51.
Penalties: NMU: 0 for 0 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Northern Michigan 3 - 6 - 9 - 18Notre Dame 8 - 10 - 9 - 27
Goaltender Saves:NMU - Bill Zaniboni (58:12) 7 - 10 - 6 - 23ND - David Brown (59:43) 3 - 6 - 7 - 16
Power Plays:NMU: 1 for 4ND: 0 for 6
Attendance: 2,763 (sellout)