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Hockey: Giant Killers

Kyle Cassily | Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Notre Dame played the David to Boston College’s Goliath – again – and upset the No. 1 Eagles 7-1 Friday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., the third time in three straight games the Irish have knocked off a top-ranked Eagles squad.

“It’s a big step for us,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “I’m happy with what we did this weekend – it’s a sign of where we can be, what we can be.”

The Irish (3-1-0) defeated Providence College 6-1 Saturday to sweep their two-game tour of the Hockey East, but lost 3-2 with seconds remaining in overtime Oct. 14 at Minnesota State-Mankato to split that two-game series.

With the Boston College blowout – the ninth time in its history that Notre Dame has beaten a No. 1-ranked team – and the Providence win, the Irish went from unranked to No. 11 in Monday’s USA Today/American Hockey Magazine Top 15. It is the highest the team has been ranked since it finished the 2003-04 season at No. 12 after a NCAA Tournament loss to Minnesota.

“Let’s be realistic about that,” Jackson said. “It’s October and there’s still 12-15 teams today ahead of us, and that doesn’t mean there won’t be more tomorrow.”

Three Notre Dame players were awarded CCHA honors Monday for their weekend efforts. Senior defenseman Wes O’Neill (two assists, plus-four in the last two games) was named Defensive Player of the Week, while senior Dave Brown (48 saves in two games) was awarded Goaltender of the Week and freshman Kevin Deeth (one goal, two assists) Rookie of the Week.

“It’s great that our guys get attention for what they accomplished,” Jackson said. “But the weekend’s over, everything we accomplished last weekend could be blown out of proportion next weekend if we play Army and lose.”

Notre Dame beat Boston College 3-2 with a last-second goal by T.J. Jindra Oct. 22, 2004 at the Joyce Center and shut out the Eagles 1-0 at Kelley Rink the year before.

“We have to prove the most important part of excellence is consistency,” Jackson said. “We proved that we can be a good team this weekend, but we have to prove we can be a great team.”

Notre Dame 7, Boston College 1

Junior Mark Van Guilder scored his second career hat trick in the Eagles’ worst home loss in 12 years.

Boston College goaltender Cory Schneider made 24 saves and surrendered six goals before he was replaced by Joe Pearce. Brown made 26 saves for the Irish, allowing a shorthanded goal to Dan Bertram :48 seconds into the third period to cut the Irish lead to 4-1.

Notre Dame responded with three third-period goals, one each by Van Guilder – his third of the game – sophomore Erik Condra and freshman Ryan Thang (two goals) to seal the win over the speedy Eagles.

“I think they had to worry about our speed,” Jackson said. “Our transition game was as good as I’ve seen it. When we forced one of their turnovers, we countered very quickly. They had a hard time adjusting to our speed sometimes.”

Jackson said the Irish defense was the most important factor in the blowout victory, creating numerous turnovers that led to droves of scoring chances.

The Irish opened up a 4-0 lead by the second intermission on first-period goals by Van Guilder and Thang and second-period tallies by Van Guilder and Deeth.

Notre Dame was 2-for-11 on the power play, while the penalty-kill unit shut down 9-of-10 Boston College power plays.

Notre Dame 6, Providence 1

Freshman Dan Kissel packaged his first three collegiate goals into a tidy hat trick for the Irish in the Saturday win over Providence.

The Irish struggled in the first period, scoring a lone goal by Kissel on the power play, but rebounded with a three-goal second period.

“It’s hard to say if we played down to their level,” Jackson said. “Right now, we’re not good enough to do that stuff.”

Kissel scored his second goal 1:15 into the second period and was followed :47 later by a rebound put-away from senior Jason Paige, his first goal of the year. Deeth scored later in the period for a 4-1 lead.

The lone Friars goal came in the second from Colin McDonald, assisted by Nick Mazzolini. Brown had 22 saves.

Senior Michael Bartlett scored his first of the year and Kissel added his third in the third period for the 6-1 final.

Minnesota State-Mankato 3, Notre Dame 2 (OT)

The Mavericks defeated the Irish with 14.2 seconds remaining in overtime on the power play to take the second game of a series in which Notre Dame took the opener 6-1.

Irish sophomore Garrett Regan was called for a phantom tripping penalty with 2:02 left in the overtime. Minnesota State forward Jon Kalinski shoveled home the game-winning goal on a down-low backhander over Brown.

“I think at Minnesota State, we didn’t do what we did last weekend,” Jackson said. “We didn’t do the little things, we didn’t execute the system the way we did [against BC and Providence].”

Deeth scored a man-advantage and a first-period short-handed goal for the Irish, but after two periods the score was tied 2-2. Joel Hanson and Kael Mouilllierat put the Mavericks up 2-1 with goals in the second period, before Deeth knotted it.

Brown had 13 saves in the loss.