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Hockey: Irish win season opener

Kyle Cassily | Friday, October 13, 2006

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson asked Arena Manager Pat Klaybor to make three shooting boards in the off-season to train Irish players to pick their shots high into the corners and over the goalies’ shoulders. It showed in the team’s season-opening 6-1 win Thursday night over Minnesota State-Mankato at the Joyce Center.

The Irish (1-0) confounded Maverick goaltender Dan Tormey, who was a late addition after starter Mike Zacharias went down with an injury in warm-ups, with six goals on 28 shots – including two each by left wing Garrett Regan and center Mark Van Guilder.

In the first two games of the season, including a 9-0 exhibition win over Windsor last Friday, the team now has 15 goals – it took the Irish five games, including one exhibition, to reach that total last season.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work on shooting and scoring skills,” Jackson said. “That’s the whole skill sessions we ran for the first month of training camp.”

Last season, Notre Dame dropped a 2-1 home decision to Minnesota State (0-1) but won on the road 3-2 with nine seconds left.

Irish goalie Dave Brown made 36 saves and allowed only a power-play goal on a turnover in the Irish zone.

“My main goal coming into this year was to pick up where I finished last year,” Brown said. “And to get that many shots, that many variations of shots, you know it really felt good to make the big saves and keep the guys in.”

The Mavericks entered the second period down 1-0, but within eight minutes the North Star state team was buried under a four-goal Irish onslaught marked by flashy goals and an even flashier offensive unit – including three goals on the first five shots.

Regan scored 44 seconds into the period and knocked Tormey’s water bottle of the top of the net with his second goal two and a half minutes later. Van Guilder added two at 4:20 and 8:24 to give Notre Dame the 5-0 advantage.

“Obviously they came out and capitalized,” Mavericks head coach Troy Jutting said. “I was just trying to calm them down and make sure we kept our heads in the game.”

Regan’s first goal came off the rebound from an initial shot by center Jason Paige. Regan collected the loose puck between the circles and turned to wrap a forehand shot around Tormey’s right pad. For his second goal and the 3-0 lead, Regan received a pass from defenseman Noah Babin just inside the Maverick blue line and took several strides to the top of the left circle before he sniped the puck top-shelf, glove-side on Tormey.

“We just wanted to get [the puck] on net,” Regan said. “Coach [Jackson] has been talking about shooting and if we get a lot of chances, if we shoot it’s going to go in. More of our main objective this year is to drive in on them down low and get the puck on net.”

Four of the six Irish goals came below the circle hash marks and two came while inside the crease.

Van Guilder gave the Irish the 4-0 lead a minute later on an assist from left wing Ryan Thang when he beat Tormey blocker side from the bottom of the left circle. Van Guilder then put home his own rebound from the top of the crease when he stuffed his second chance around Tormey’s right pad. Center Kevin Deeth fed Van Guilder in front of the net with a pass from the right boards to set up the 5-0 lead.

Minnesota State and Notre Dame exchanged goals in the third period several minutes apart to make the final 6-1.

Mavericks left wing Jon Kalinski shoved an open-net rebound off Brown’s pads while short-handed into the right side of the net after he made the initial save on center Travis Morin’s left-side slap shot. The goal cut the game to 5-1 at 3:18 into the period and was precipitated by a turnover in the Irish zone on a clear-out by Brown.

“I’ll take credit for [Brown’s turnover],” Jackson said. “We’re trying to work on breakout situations on line changes, and he was trying to fire it out. We had people posted up on the far blue line, and he just made an errant pass, so I’ll take the fall for that.”

Thang capped of a furious Notre Dame break with a roofed one-timer off the right side of the crease at 6:48. Irish defenseman Wes O’Neill secured the puck at the Irish blue line and made a neutral-zone pass to right wing Dan Kissel, who broke down the left side and lured the Maverick defenseman toward him, opening Thang on the far side.

Irish left wing Josh Sciba scored first in the game with a low shot from the point on the power play 14:05 into the first period, assisted by Van Guilder and O’Neill for the 1-0 lead. Sciba received a cross pass on the right point from O’Neill and fired a wrist shot through net traffic and a screened Tormey.

The Irish power play went 1-for-10 as Jackson swapped numerous players in and out of the man-advantage unit. The penalty-kill unit was a successful 6-for-6.

“It’s about evaluating personnel,” Jackson said. “I’ve been trying some freshmen on the kill, trying some new guys. The penalty-killing is only as good as our goaltender and David Brown was a big part of our penalty kill.”

The Irish will travel to Mankato, Minn., to play Minnesota State in the finale of the two-game series Saturday night. Notre Dame will then take a brief tour of Hockey East, playing at No. 1 Boston College at Kelley Rink Oct. 20 and at Providence College Oct. 21.

Notes:

u Irish captain T.J. Jindra had to sit out the game due to a scratched cornea. He is expected to play Saturday against against the Mavericks in Mankato.