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Hockey: Draining the lake

Dan Murphy | Friday, November 2, 2007

After suffering his first shutout loss in almost a year last Saturday to Ferris State, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson decided to make a change. Jackson moved last year’s point leader Erik Condra from his normal line to play with senior captain Mark Van Guilder – and it paid off.

Condra had five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and Van Guilder added four more (2 goals, 2 assists) in Notre Dame’s 7-3 rout of Lake Superior State Thursday.

“I was just trying to find that right chemistry, you know,” Jackson said. “Erik is a very smart, intelligent, playmaking player.”

It was the second five-point game of Condra’s career. The junior right wing tallied a goal and four assists in a 6-2 win over Robert Morris in January.

His first goal broke the game open with just over five minutes remaining in the second period. Condra jumped on a loose rebound and poked it into the net to give the Irish a 5-2 lead.

The shot came three minutes into a major penalty on Lake Superior’s Zac MacVoy, who was ejected from the game after taking a run at senior Evan Rankin. That led defenseman Dan VeNard to scuffle with MacVoy.

“I don’t know what I was thinking but I was going in there,” VeNard said. “You just gotta stand up for a teammate. We’ve been battling all summer, all fall, no one is going to take a run at one of our guys without at least having to discuss it for a little bit.”

Jackson said he spoke with Lakers coach Jim Roque after the game, and Roque said he will suspend MacVoy for the outburst.

Less than two minutes later, Van Guilder drove the stake a little bit deeper into Lake Superior State when he snuck another puck past Lakers goalie Pat Inglis on the same power play.

Notre Dame, which had been one for its last 24 on the power play prior to tonight, had three goals with the man advantage against Lake Superior.

“We’re just more comfortable out there moving the puck around to the open man, not trying to force anything,” Condra said.

Junior right wing Ryan Thang buried the first when he found himself alone in the slot midway through the first period. Thang fired a laser to the top left corner of the net that Inglis never had a chance to stop. Van Guilder and Condra both had assists on the play.

The Lakers answered two minutes later when sophomore Nathan Perkovich let a shot go from the middle of the blue line. The shot was immediately tipped but took a huge bounce in the slot and hopped over Irish netminder Jordan Pearce’s shoulder. Pearce had 13 saves on 16 shots Thursday.

VeNard broke the 1-1 tie in the closing moments of the first stanza with a blast from the point that beat Inglis to the glove side. The goal was the third of his career and the first since March of his sophomore season.

“Everyone kind of kids around about how Danny’s had a tough career here,” Jackson said. “He’s had a lot of injuries, he hasn’t had a chance to play a lot, but he’s such a class kid. He’s so well liked by his teammates, that’s why he’s a captain.”

Notre Dame didn’t look back from there. Freshman Robin Bergman, who was also on the line with Condra and Van Guilder, picked up his first collegiate goal 18 seconds into the second period. Condra picked the puck up at center ice and beat a Laker defenseman to the net. His shot was saved, but Bergman was there to send home a long rebound on a virtually empty net.

“The common eye wouldn’t recognize that [Condra] intentionally took a soft shot off the goalie’s pad because he knew he had a man busting to the net, and that’s a big time play,” Jackson said.

The Irish improved to 5-3 (3-1 in the CCHA) with the win, and Lake Superior dropped to 1-3-1 on the year. The two teams will lace them up again tonight at 7:35 in the Joyce Center.