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HOCKEY: Michigan’s potent offense scores at will against Irish

Justin Schuver | Sunday, February 20, 2005

FORT WAYNE – Not even a change of venue could change Notre Dame’s lack of success this brutal season.Notre Dame dropped a 9-2 contest against the sixth-ranked Wolverines Friday at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, then followed up that loss with a 6-3 defeat against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday.With the losses, the Irish have now failed to win a game in their last 15 contests (they are 0-13-2 over those games).Friday, early Michigan goals in the first two periods doomed the Irish. Notre Dame allowed the first goal of the game just a minute into the first period, and then allowed Michigan a goal on the first shift of the second period – just nine seconds into the frame – with the score 3-1 in favor of the Wolverines before that quick goal.”Both of those goals were essentially goals where you have to have control of the puck,” Irish coach Dave Poulin said Friday night. “On one we had two chances to clear the puck, and then the other was basically right off the initial face off in the second period, so those were probably the two most-damaging goals of the game.”A crowd of 7,948 fans came to see the Irish and Wolverines in Fort Wayne, with the cheering sections seemingly even at the start. But as the game went on, the Michigan fans started to dominate the crowd noise, and for good reason.Michigan displayed its offensive talent early in the game, with freshman forward Kevin Porter making a nifty one-on-one move to get to the front of the net and wrist a shot past Cey just a minute into the game.A little more than three minutes later, Michigan increased its lead to two goals on a power play with Matt Hunwick, Brandon Rogers and Milan Gajic making a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play that left Gajic with a wide-open net.The Irish would answer back three minutes later on another Michigan power play, Notre Dame’s second shorthanded goal of the season. Jason Paige won the face-off in the Michigan zone back to T.J. Jindra. Jindra then gave the puck right back to Paige, who skated in toward Montoya. Montoya made the initial stop, but Paige continued with the puck and managed to slide it over the line before the Michigan defense could get back.Any good Irish vibes would be ruined by a defensive breakdown at the 13:16 mark. On another Michigan power play, Jeff Tambellini received a pass near the blue line, and three Irish players went for the puck. Tambellini then made a simple pass down low to Chad Kolarik, who was stationed wide-open near the left-post and didn’t miss from about 3 feet.Despite the defensive breakdown, Notre Dame continued to press in the first period, and almost got another goal on a 2-on-1 late but Montoya was able to snuff it out. The early goal in the second period killed any hopes of a comeback for the Irish.”You can’t give up one in the opening shift. That’s a face-off play, and you just can’t let that happen,” Poulin said.Michigan’s Andrew Ebbett skated down the near-side boards, and made a perfect cross ice pass to Eric Nystrom near the left post, who wristed a shot past Cey before the goalie could move. Ebbett would score a goal of his own later in the period, and Notre Dame’s Matt Amado answered to make the game 5-2, but that was as close as the Irish would get.Goals in the third period by Michael Woodford, T. J. Hensick (two) and Kolarik closed out the Michigan scoring.The Irish were much more competitive on Saturday, only down 3-2 going into the third period. But as has happened so often this season for the Irish, Notre Dame was outscored 3-1 in the final frame.Notre Dame’s David Brown got the start in goal, making 32 saves in the loss. Montoya had an easy night, making 11 saves on 14 shots.Porter and Tambellini scored in the first period to give the Wolverines a lead after 20 minutes of play, but the Irish retaliated with just 33 seconds into the second period on a goal by Jindra. David Moss answered for Michigan at the 14:37 mark of the period, but Notre Dame bounced right back with a goal by freshman Victor Oreskovich. It was the first goal of the season for the highly-touted forward, who was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of last year’s NHL draft.Michigan took over in the third period, with Ebbett and Tambellini scoring goals to make the game 5-2 before Amado knocked home a late tally for the Irish. Moss scored an empty-net goal to seal the win for the Wolverines, who will more than likely face Notre Dame again in the first round of the CCHA playoffs in Ann Arbor.The Irish are off this weekend, then close out their regular season with a home-and-home series against Michigan State March 4-5.