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Badgering all of their opponents

Justin Schuver | Tuesday, January 20, 2004

As if they needed to make their case anymore this season, the Irish once again showed the hockey world they can compete with the best.

Already this season, the Irish have defeated then-No. 1 Boston College and then-No. 3 Maine away from the Joyce Center. Add No. 4 Wisconsin to Notre Dame’s list of vanquished ranked foes on the road.

Despite being outshot by the Badgers by a combined 69-37, the Irish remained undefeated (2-0-1) at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisc., thanks especially to the play of their goaltenders.

Junior Morgan Cey made 36 saves Saturday to help the team to the 2-2 tie, and freshman David Brown continued his impressive rookie campaign with 30 saves as he backstopped the Irish to their third win over a top-five team.

“Our goalies were just tremendous,” coach Dave Poulin said. “I think that goaltending is one of the strengths on our team.

“I really feel we might have the best tandem in the country.”

Strong words for a school who has never had a goaltender finish his career with a save percentage higher than .900. But Cey and Brown have been turning heads this season as quickly as they’ve been turning away pucks.

With the Irish getting quality goaltending at one end of the ice, senior forwards Rob Globke and Aaron Gill and sophomore forward Mike Walsh were able to excel at the other end.

Globke and Gill each scored two goals on the weekend, while Walsh scored the crucial game-tying goal after Wisconsin took an early 1-0 lead Sunday. Walsh has already shown a knack for coming through in big games, scoring the only goals in 1-0 victories over both Boston College and Maine.

“Mike’s goal on Sunday was really the turning point,” Poulin said. “Wisconsin obviously felt that they had lost a point against us the night before and thought they’d be able to win easily. We were able to tie it up and get the momentum back, and that was the difference.”

The weekend began on an ominous note for the Irish, who ran into a storm near the Illinois-Wisconsin border that delayed their bus ride to Madison for four hours.

“I was very pleased with how the team handled that adversity,” Poulin said. “It took us a little while to get our legs back under us from the bus ride, but we were able to get going and do well in a difficult arena to play in.”

The Irish fell behind 1-0 early in the first Saturday as John Eichelberger scored for the Badgers on the power play. Notre Dame’s sluggish start was apparent, with the Irish not even recording a shot on goal until the 14:40 mark of the first period.

That shot would be a big one, however, as Gill picked up the rebound of a Globke shot and slipped it past Wisconsin goalie Bernd Bruckler. The goal came on an Irish power play and marked the then-fifth straight game that the Irish scored on a power play (they would also score a power play goal Sunday to run that total to six).

Eichelberger would regain the lead for Wisconsin in the second period with his second goal of the game, but Gill would match him once more on the scoring sheet with another power play goal just 1:23 into the third. Globke also collected an assist on the play.

All four goals Saturday came with the man advantage. Each team was 2-of-7 on the power play.

“When you’re not getting a lot of shots on goal, it’s important to take advantage of your power play chances, and we did just that,” Poulin said.

The Irish again got off to a rough start Sunday, perhaps facing an angry Wisconsin team focused on revenge. Brown faced 13 shots in the first period, allowing a goal to Rene Bourque, while his Wisconsin counterpart Brian Elliott only faced two Irish shots.

Walsh tied the game about six minutes into the second period as he wristed a shot past Elliott to give the sophomore his ninth goal of the season.

Ten minutes later, the Irish took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play to take the lead, with Globke collecting the goal off assists from Tom Galvin and Neil Komadowski. Globke’s goal was the game winner and gave him 13 in his career, tying him with Brian Urick and Poulin.

The senior forward would score his second goal of the game with an empty-netter to put the Badgers away for good.

Penalty killing was a big part of Notre Dame’s success Sunday, as the Irish killed all six Wisconsin power plays in the game, including three in the first period.

“Special teams were huge for us this weekend,” Poulin said. “When Wisconsin had those three power plays in the first Sunday, it allowed their offense to get in gear a little, but we never backed down and did a great job playing through that difficult situation.”

Notre Dame finishes out the regular season with 12 straight conference games, starting with a visit to Northern Michigan this weekend.