Hockey: Irish beat Air Force in Tampa
Dan Murphy | Monday, October 30, 2006
It was a night of milestones for the Irish.
With a 2-0 victory over Air Force Saturday night in Tampa, Fla., Notre Dame won their first in-season tournament in 25 years, Dave Brown broke a program record with his seventh career shutout and head coach Jeff Jackson captured his 200th career win.
Jackson only needed seven years and six games in his eighth season behind the bench to reach the benchmark. He is currently 22nd all-time in wins and his .713 winning percentage leads all active coaches in the NCAA. Jackson won 182 games from 1990-1996 with Lake Superior State and has 18 since coming to South Bend last season.
“I think, most of all, it is a reflection of all of the teams and coaching staffs that I have had with me along the way,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s No. 11 Irish are off to their best start (5-1-0) since 1998, when they won their first six games.
Christian Hanson, who was named the tournament MVP, scored the game-winner three minutes into the second period when he tapped in a rebound off of a Jason Paige shot.
Paige increased the lead to 2-0 less than 10 minutes later when he beat Air Force goalie Ian Harper with a wrist shot on an Irish power play.
Harper finished with 23 saves on the night. Opposing him in net, Brown was able to stop all 28 of the Falcons’ shots.
The senior netminder suffered an ankle injury in a CCHA playoff game with Alaska-Fairbanks last March, but he has had no troubles this season after a summer of rehab.
“He’s playing extremely well and I want to make sure he continues to do so,” Jackson said. “I need to give him a break once in a while.”
Brown had the night off on Friday night when Notre Dame blanked Army 3-0 to reach the tournament championship. Sophomore Jordan Pearce was between the pipes for the Irish and had seven saves in his first start in 2006.
Freshman Ryan Thang started off the scoring at 10:58 in the first period with his fourth goal of the season – one behind Mark Van Guilder for the team lead. Kyle Lawson found Thang with a pass in the center of the ice, which he one-timed past Army’s Josh Kassel for the power play goal.
The Black Knights held Notre Dame off for the next 30 minutes until Hanson got loose and put a wrister in the top corner to give the Irish a 2-0 lead.
Hanson broke out of his slump with a big weekend at just the right time.
“It was kind of a key weekend for Christian because he was in jeopardy of being taken out of the lineup,” Jackson said. “He practiced hard last week and did a lot of things better.”
Garret Regan rounded out the scoring with two minutes left in the game when he and Paige capitalized on a 2-on-1 opportunity.
Notre Dame will rest up this week in preparation for the opening of CCHA regular season play as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State.
The two-game series will wrap up Notre Dame’s seven-game road trip, the longest of the season.