Feb. 27, 2004
Notre Dame, Ind. – Freshman center Jason Paige scored a pair of goals, senior defenseman Brett Lebda set up three goals and freshman goaltender David Brown stopped 23 of 24 shots to lead Notre Dame to a 4-1 win over fourth-ranked Michigan in front of a sellout crowd at the Joyce Center.
The Irish snapped a scoreless tie with three unanswered second period goals to take a commanding 3-0 lead on the way to their third consecutive win. The victory improves the Irish to 16-11-4 overall and 12-10-3 in CCHA play. Michigan falls to 23-9-1 and 18-6-1 in conference play. Notre Dame moves into a tie for sixth place in the league with Western Michigan as the Broncos tied Miami, 2-2, as both teams now have 27 points in league play.
The win also extended Notre Dame’s home-unbeaten streak to 13 games (11-0-2) as the Irish have not lost at home since their home opener in October. For the year, Notre Dame is 11-1-2 at the Joyce Center. The 11 home wins are the most for the Irish since the 1999-2000 season when Notre Dame was 11-7-3 on home ice.
“This may have been our best 60 minutes of hockey all season long,” said head coach Dave Poulin following the game.
“We played with intensity and emotion the entire game. Again, it was doing the little things well, winning face offs, special teams, winning the battles for loose pucks. They really had a great effort tonight.”
After a scoreless first period that saw just 13 shots (7-6 in favor of Michigan), the Irish got on the board early in the second period as T.J. Jindra took a cross rink pass from Matt Amado and beat Al Montoya with a quick wrister from the bottom of the right wing circle at 1:17. The goal was the third of the year for Jindra. Lebda had his first of three assists on the night as he sprung Amado down the left wing boards.
Cory McLean made it 2-0 at 10:41 as he beat the Michigan defense down the middle and beat Montoya with a low shot inside the post and the Michigan goaltender’s pads. Aaron Gill sprung McLean when he won a face off in the right wing circle in the Irish zone. The puck split the defensemen at the point and McLean did the rest.
“I knew the defenseman was closing on me,” said McLean.
“I just wanted to get by him and get a good shot on net and it went in.”
The Irish weren’t done in the period as Jason Paige scored his first of two on the night via the power play at 14:35. Again Lebda started the play deep in his zone when he moved the puck ahead to defensive partner Wes O’Neill. Montoya stopped O’Neill’s long shot from just inside the blue line but couldn’t control the rebound. Paige picked it up and flipped it in the goal for his seventh of the season.
On Paige’s goal, Montoya appeared to injure his leg trying to make a second save and was forced to leave the game. He was replaced by Noah Ruden who played the remainder of the game.
Michigan was able to snap Brown’s shutout bid on Eric Nystrom’s 10th goal of the season on a power-play deflection. The goal also snapped Notre Dame’s streak of not giving up a power play goal in 36 consecutive chances, dating back to January 23. Brandon Rogers’ shot was deflected in front by Nystrom at 3:15 to make it a 3-1 game.
Notre Dame answered right back just 1:12 later with a power-play goal of its own. With a face off in the Michigan zone, Paige won a draw back to Lebda at the right point. Both Josh Sciba and Paige deflected Lebda’s shot before it went by Ruden with Paige getting credit for the goal, his eighth of the season.
“I was just in the right place at the right time. They say when you go to the net, good things happen,” said Paige following the first two-goal game of his career.
“This was a big win for us. Our senior leaders really prepared us for this series. I can’t say enough about them. They deserve a lot of the credit for this win tonight.”
On the night, the Irish outshot Michigan by a 26-24 margin. Brown finished with 23 saves while Montoya had 14 in 34:26 and Ruden had eight in 25:24 minutes.
“Our defense was awesome tonight,” said Brown following his 12th win of the year.
“They did a great job of letting me see the puck and when I made the save they took care of the rebound. This was a big game for us with all the interest we’ve gotten this week. I just wanted to come out and establish myself and play a strong game.”
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night at the Joyce Center. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
** The Irish appeared on College Sports Television (CSTV) for the fourth time this season. They are 3-1 on the year. For the year, Notre Dame has appeared on television nine times and is 6-1-2 in those games.
** Notre Dame’s win over Michigan was the first for the Irish at the Joyce Center since Jan. 30, 1999 (a 3-2 win) and snapped a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) versus the Wolverines.
** With his three assists in the game, defenseman Brett Lebda moves into a tie for 10th on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list for defenseman with 80 career points. Lebda has 25 goals and 55 assists for his 80 points.
Michigan (23-9-1/18-6-1) 0 0 1 – 1
Notre Dame (16-11-4/12-10-3) 0 3 1 – 4
First Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: UM: 0 for 0 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Penalties: UM: 2 for 4 minutes; ND: 3 for 6 minutes.
Third Period: UM: Eric Nystrom 10 (Brandon Rogers, Matt Hunwick), PPG, 3:15; ND: Paige 8 (Josh Sciba, Lebda), PPG, 4:27.
Penalties: UM: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 3 for 6 minutes.
Shots On Goal:
Michigan 6 – 7 – 11 – 24
Notre Dame 7 – 10 – 9 – 26
Goaltender Saves: UM – Al Montoya (34:36) 7 – 7 – x – 14
Noah Ruden (25:24) x – 0 – 8 – 8
ND – David Brown (60:00) 6 – 7 -10 – 23
Power Plays: UM: 1 for 5; ND: 2 for 3
Attendance: 2,763 (sellout)