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Hockey: Jackson’s squad keeps winning ways on road

Kyle Cassily | Monday, November 6, 2006

No. 10 Notre Dame opened its CCHA schedule this weekend on the road and earned three points with a win and a tie against Ohio State – a performance that would have been celebrated last year, said Irish coach Jeff Jackson.

But not this year.

“At any point last year it would have been thrilling [to take three points],” Jackson said. “[But] the team was disappointed – they were upset they didn’t get the four points.”

The Irish (6-1-1, 1-0-1) defeated the Buckeyes 4-2 Friday before they surrendered a late third-period goal in Saturday’s contest to finish with a 1-1 draw. The team has played on the road since Oct. 14 and is 5-0-1 in its last six games away from the Joyce Center – the best Irish road stretch since 1987-88.

“We have to recognize where we are, and we are an improved team,” Jackson said. “We’re a championship team? Not yet. I’m not saying that won’t change at the end of the season.”

Irish senior goalie Dave Brown stopped 46 shots in the two games, but saw his 120:14 shutout streak disappear 5:11 into the second period of the first game on a goal by Tommy Goebel.

Prior to the weekend, Brown was second in the nation in goals-against average and save percentage, behind Alaska’s Chad Johnson.

Jackson said Brown’s dominance in net could be attributed to the confidence and maturity that he developed in the latter half of his junior year and carried over into this season.

“His sophomore year had a lot to be desired,” Jackson said. “His confidence was down. I just think the whole aspect of his mental game was down. He’s come into this season and physically and mentally -he’s in the right frame of mind.”

The Irish had four different players score in the first game on the Buckeyes’ goaltending platoon of freshmen Nick Filion and Joseph Palmer.

Sophomores Erik Condra and Christian Hanson scored in the first period to open up a 2-0 lead at the break – the Irish have yet to surrender a first-period goal in their eight games.

Junior Mark Van Guilder scored his sixth goal of the year – the team high – in the second period, before the Buckeyes slowed the pace of the game and cut the lead to 3-2 on goals from Goebel and Andrew Schembri.

“[Our defensive coverage] still needs some work to be better, but in that instance [the Schembri goal] was a strange goal,” Jackson said. “It was a little bit of a fluky goal, and obviously that gives the other team a little momentum, a little life.”

Irish senior Jason Paige picked up an insurance goal 8:29 into the third period and gave Notre Dame back the momentum for the 4-2 final.

In Saturday’s game, an interference call on captain T.J. Jindra at 17:13 into the third period gave the Buckeyes an opportunity to equalize a 1-0 Irish lead. Goebel grabbed a rebound in front of Brown and shoveled the power play goal in from the slot at 17:38 to tie the game.

Notre Dame’s only loss this year – a 3-2 overtime decision to Minnesota State-Mankato – also came on a late power play goal by the opposition.

“It wasn’t so much a breakdown from a penalty-killing perspective,” Jackson said. “But they changed their strategy to the simplest strategy of all – just get the puck to the net.”

Jackson said he felt the Irish controlled the tempo of the second game, but the Buckeye goaltending stepped up – Palmer started and made 33 saves – and shut down the Irish offense.

“I get a feel from behind the bench when I know the team is playing well – it’s a sense of not being concerned as much about line matchups,” Jackson said. “And I felt a lot less nervous about who was on the ice Saturday, than Friday.”

Notre Dame will host Bowling Green in a two-game home stand this weekend at the Joyce Center.