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Hockey: Irish drop two wild games to Wolverines

Kyle Cassily | Monday, November 7, 2005

The sold-out crowd packed into the Joyce Athletic Center Friday night played witness to an electric, momentum-shifting game punctuated with goals fit for the highlight reel – and plenty of them – in a thrilling 8-5 loss to the Michigan Wolverines.

Notre Dame had to battle from behind against the No. 3 Wolverines most of the night, trailing by a 4-1 margin in the second stanza and then by 5-2 and 6-3 during the third period.

But the Irish refused to give up and fought back to put the game at 6-5 with slightly more than four minutes remaining in regulation, before Michigan was able to put the game away with its seventh goal.

“We competed hard down the stretch,” Irish associate head coach Paul Pooley said. “It was a pleasure to watch, because that is what Coach [Jeff] Jackson has been talking about since day one: competing, competing, competing and never-say-die, and we showed that tonight.”

The Irish struggled mightily on the penalty kill, allowing four power play goals on the first five Michigan chances – the Wolverines had seven total man-advantages. Michigan has thrived on the power play this season, converting on 17 of 59 chances (28.8 percent), good enough for the sixth-best power play unit in the country.

With the roles reversed, Notre Dame was equally unsuccessful.

The Irish went 1-for-10 on the power play, the lone goal coming during a 5-on-3-man advantage at 16:32 in the second period scored by Tim Wallace.

“We gave guys open seams,” Pooley said of the Irish penalty kill. “A backdoor goal, high slot goal, those are the things we can adjust on and just make sure we can cover better because it’s a special teams game, and we lost the special teams battle tonight.”

The Irish trailed 6-3 after a well-executed Michigan two-on-one by T.J. Hensick and Andrew Cogliano ended with a one-timer to the right side by Hensick past diving Irish goalie David Brown (23 saves) 12:31 into the third.

Notre Dame responded immediately with pressure on the Michigan defensive zone, and the Wolverines were caught on their heels. In a span of 23 seconds, the Irish cut Michigan’s lead to 6-5 and placed themselves in position to take back a game that had been the Wolverines’ to own.

Freshman Garrett Regan deposited the puck past Michigan goaltender Noah Ruden (26 saves) on a fast break down the left side at 15:13 into the third. Regan deked towards the right on Ruden before pulling the puck back and around to the left post, where he slid the puck along the ice past a sprawling Ruden.

Fellow freshman Erik Condra went head-first for the win and the goal to put it at 6-5 on a breakaway. Condra broke hard towards the Michigan net, but was tripped up.

He managed to light the lamp while laying prone, just before crashing into the right post.

“[Jackson] was playing the guys that were competing out there, getting it done,” Pooley said of personnel changes in the last minutes. “We shortened the bench and we were going after the win.”

The Irish could not put the icing on the cake, however, and Michigan put the game away at 7-5 on a snipe from the right slot by Cogliano over Brown’s shoulder less than a minute later. That was followed by an empty-net goal with under a minute remaining to seal the game at 8-5.

“The puck was bouncing, [Notre Dame] was getting the bounces and we were chasing them,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. “We didn’t play good team hockey in the third period. We found a way to win the game, but we can’t be happy with our game.”

The Irish set the tone early in the game when they took a 1-0 lead only 18 seconds after the puck dropped. Notre Dame won the faceoff and charged into the Wolverine zone. Wallace attempted a wrap-around that led to a mad scramble for the puck in front of the net, where Matt Amado buried the puck for the goal.

Michigan followed that up with four unanswered goals, three on the power play, between the midway points of the first and second periods. Freshman Travis Turnbull tied the game at 1-1 halfway through the first during a scramble in front of Brown on a power play. And with less than a minute left in the first, Wolverine Chad Kolarik beat Brown low and away on a hard snap shot.

Jason Bailey and Brandon Naurato tallied a goal apiece in the first half of the second to put Michigan at 4-1. The Irish answered with Wallace’s power play goal, but then allowed Michigan to put the game at 5-2 on a Kevin Porter shot less than three minutes into the third.

The momentum swung towards the Irish yet again when Mike Walsh took control of the puck along the right side of the boards in front of Michigan’s net.

Walsh turned and fired a hard wrist shot towards Ruden and beat the goalie high to cut the lead to 5-3 at 7:16 into the period.

The game remained deadlocked until the scoring explosion in the latter half of the third.

“In hockey you can’t get too high or too low or else you’re in trouble,” Condra said of the back-and-forth nature of the game. “You get too low, and they score a couple of goals, and you’re just down. We stayed pretty calm on the bench and came back. It’s tough going back and forth with all the emotion shifts.”

Michigan 4, Notre Dame 2

The special teams trouble that plagued the Irish on Friday night continued into Saturday as the team traveled to Michigan for the second half of the series.

Michigan (7-1-1 overall) prevailed over Notre Dame 4-2 and swept the two-game season series while scoring three power play goals on six chances.

The Irish gave the nod to freshman goalie Jordan Pearce to start between the pipes, and he made 25 saves on the night.

A two-goal second period for the Wolverines insured the loss that moved the Irish to 1-5-0 on the year.

Kolarik found the back of the net at 15:10 into the second on the bane of Notre Dame’s existence – the power play – to put the game at 3-2 in Michigan’s favor. Hensick followed up with a goal of his own 1:22 later to cap the scoring at 4-2.

Michigan got on the board first, just five minutes into the first period, on a power play goal by Cogliano, but was soon evened up with an Amado goal.

Amado was assisted by Wallace on the rebound goal at 6:34. The Irish took their second lead in two nights at 11:34 into the first on a Michael Bartlett shot. The lead would remain 2-1 in Notre Dame’s favor until 19:55 into the period.

Kolarik notched his third goal in two games and tied the game up at 2-2 on an open net rebound.

The Irish will host Bowling Green in two straight home games, starting Thursday night at 7:35 p.m.