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Hockey: Icers split with Ferris State

Dan Murphy | Monday, February 26, 2007

Saturday night’s 2-0 victory over Ferris State capped off a shocking 27-6-3 regular season for No. 1 Notre Dame after a disappointing loss Friday. The Irish were not on the national radar at the start of the year, but have since earned the spotlight as perhaps the biggest surprise in the country.

“I knew we were going to be better this year, but I thought we would be on the cusp on being a top four team in the conference,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said.

The team had one more surprise in store after the game Saturday night as the first ever conference championship banner was hung in the Joyce Center. Team captain T.J. Jindra flipped the switch that dropped the banner while celebrating with the rest of his teammates at center ice.

The team’s 27 wins ties the 1987-88 Irish club for the most in program history. Senior Dave Brown also added another Notre Dame record to his resume on the night as he collected his fifth shutout this season.

Brown bounced back from a shaky performance in a 5-2 loss Friday to make 15 saves en route to blanking the Bulldogs.

“I felt real bad about what happened [Friday],” Brown said. “I wanted to play real well for the guys.”

Ferris State goaltender Derek MacIntyre also had a solid night between the pipes, stopping 33 of Notre Dame’s 35 shots – including the first 19 he faced.

Senior center Jason Paige was finally able to break the scoring drought with a power play goal halfway through the second period.

MacIntyre made the initial save but was unable to control a bouncing puck that Paige slapped out of the air and into the net.

“It was a big scrum, and a really ugly goal, but we’ll take them anyway we can get them,” Paige said.

Paige’s goal ended a frustrating run for the Irish who were dominant in every phase of the game, but could not sneak anything past MacIntyre. Notre Dame played an aggressive and physical first period. The two teams collected a combined 30 penalty minutes in the first period, including a 10 minute misconduct that Jindra picked up following a fight after the whistle.

Jindra tackled Bulldogs right wing Zac Pearson after he took a shot at sophomore Christian Hanson behind the net. Hanson, Jindra, Pearson and Ferris State forward Matt Verdone were all sent to the box.

“I didn’t see what happened with the fight but I was glad to see them show that kind of moxy,” Jackson said.

Junior winger Mark Van Guilder added a security goal just over a minute into the final period. Van Guilder received a pass from Jindra at the blue line and let it rip for his second goal in the series and 17th of the season.

But Friday night was less than thrilling for the Irish. The Bulldogs snapped Notre Dame’s nine-game unbeaten streak with five unanswered goals at the Joyce Center in a 5-2 win.

“I thought it was a hard fought game for both teams and our pucks were just finding their way into the goal,” Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said.

The Irish struck first at 7:17 in the first period when the freshman duo of Ryan Thang and Kevin Deeth hooked up for Deeth’s 16th goal of the season. Thang passed from behind the net and Deeth beat Ferris State goalie Mitch O’Keefe high to the blocker side.

Van Guilder built the lead to 2-0 when he buried a rebound in the second period while on the power play.

The Bulldogs kept Notre Dame away from the net for the rest of the game by playing strong defense in the second half and taking advantage of opportunities.

Ferris State’s first goal came when Irish defenseman Brock Shehan tipped a pass in front of the net, which trickled by Brown at 14:26 in the second period.

The goal was credited to senior Mark Bomersback, who also scored later in the night to put the game out of reach.

Sophomore Corey Couturier then tied the game by streaking up the right side of the ice and beating Brown with an awkward shot from the outside.

Eight minutes later the Bulldogs took the lead when Matt Case scored through traffic on a shot from the point.

Notre Dame created some chances late in the game by pulling Brown for an extra skater a few times in the final six minutes, but could not bury any of their shots.

“I’m not going to sit back and let us lose, and the only thing I can do is try to get things going,” Jackson said.

Ferris State added an empty net goal with just over a minute remaining to ice the win.