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HOCKEY: Sciba notches hat trick in 9-4 victory

Kyle Cassily | Friday, November 11, 2005

Irish head coach Jeff Jackson walked into the locker room after Notre Dame’s 9-4 drubbing of Bowling Green on Thursday night and let his team have it.

Most teams would be ecstatic over trouncing a quality opponent like the Falcons, but not this Irish squad – and not under Jackson’s watch.

“I got mad at them,” Jackson said of his post-game speech. “I thought we were real sloppy in the last 10 minutes of the game. We took some penalties we shouldn’t have taken, and we turned the puck over. This group has got to learn how to win.”

Jackson praised aspects of his team’s game, notably the special teams area, a sore spot for the Irish thus far. But Thursday was a different story, as they scored four power play goals but struggled slightly on the penalty kill after allowing two in with a man down.

The Irish were solid up and down the lineup, with outstanding performances from Matt Amado (1 goal, 1 assist), Erik Condra (3 assists) and T.J. Jindra (1 goal, 1 assist). Most notable was junior center Josh Sciba, who tallied three goals in the Irish victory. It was the first Notre Dame hat trick since Aaron Gill scored three in the 2004 CCHA Super Six 6-5 loss to Ohio State.

“If anybody can get three goals in a game for us, including our entire team, is a good thing,” Jackson said of Sciba’s performance. “I’m happy for Josh. He’s been one of our most consistent players in the early stages of the season, so that’s positive.”

The Irish broke a 4-2 lead wide open soon after the start of the third period, and they did it with style.

Assistant captain Mike Walsh broke down the right side of the ice into the Bowling Green zone and blew past the Falcon defender to the outside before cutting to the front of the net and backhanding the puck over sprawled out Falcon keeper Jimmy Spratt (19 saves).

The goal came 4:56 into the period and put the Irish advantage at 5-2. And that’s when the floodgates opened.

Jindra flipped the puck over Spratt while being pulled down from behind on a breakaway, and then was followed up with a Sciba breakaway goal off a bounce pass up the boards from Erik Condra to put Notre Dame in the driver’s seat at 7-2.

In the remaining 10 minutes both teams landed punches, scoring two goals apiece. Bowling Green’s Jonathan Matsumoto scored to lead off the last-minute flurry. But Notre Dame rallied for two straight goals from Noah Babin and Christian Hanson.

The Falcons closed it out at 9-4 with Matsumoto’s second of the game.

“It’s all business from now on,” Walsh said of what the Irish take out of the huge victory. “It feels good to score nine goals. I can’t remember if we’ve scored nine goals since I’ve been here, but we want another one tomorrow.”

The Irish used the power play to perfection in the latter half of the first to gain on an early deficit. Bowling Green left wing Derek Whitmore was whistled for a five-minute checking from behind major and a game misconduct at 14:54 of the first period, giving Notre Dame an extended man advantage.

Sciba wasted little time in capitalizing on the Falcon’s mistake and tied the game at 1-1 on a shot :36 into the power play. Mark Van Guilder assisted on the play, as did Condra.

Notre Dame continued with its advantage after the goal – a major penalty is unable to be wiped away by a score – and did away with the frustration that has plagued the special teams unit to date so far this season with a well-placed Tim Wallace shot.

The Irish power play unit cycled the puck around the Bowling Green defenders within their zone and worked the puck to Brock Sheahan on the point. Sheahan found a wide-open Wallace on top of the left circle and fed the senior right winger the disc. Wallace sealed the deal as he slid a shot along the ice between the left post and Falcons keeper Jimmy Spratt’s right pad for the 2-1 Irish lead at 18:58.

Sciba struck again for his second of the night and Notre Dame’s third-straight power play goal at 8:57 of the second stanza off a crisp Condra pass. Condra controlled low near the Falcons’ net and found Sciba open on the right side. Sciba one-timed and Spratt made the stop, only to allow a rebound that the Irish center roofed on a backhand for the goal.

Notre Dame opened up its largest lead of the regular season only 24 seconds later when Amado sent a rebound home after an initial shot by defenseman Noah Babin was deflected by Jindra onto Spratt to give the Irish a commanding 4-1 lead.

“I was really pleased with their effort tonight for the most part,” Jackson said. “There was a lot of positives from the game. I’m glad that we came out as well as we did. They played hard and they played smart.”

Bowling Green closed the gap to 4-2 on a scramble in front of Pearce that Falcons’ center Matsumoto drove home at 11:50 of the second frame. Matsumoto corralled the puck in front of Pearce in the midst of an Irish penalty kill, deked to the left post, and shoveled it in for the goal.

The Falcons struck first on a 2-on-1 rush 9:21 into the first period. Four Irish skaters got stuck deep in the Falcons’ zone when a 4-on-2 backfired and the Irish coughed up the puck. Bowling Green attacker Brett Pilkington fired a wrister over Pearce’s right shoulder for the goal.

Irish goalie Jordan Pearce made 20 saves on the game.

“He made the saves he had to, and he made a couple that were really good,” Jackson said.

The nine-goal victory is the first time the Irish have scored that many goals in a game since a 9-5 win over Western Michigan on Nov. 20, 1998. The Irish face the Falcons again at 7:35 p.m. tonight at the Joyce Center.