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Hockey: Irish make it nine in a row with road victories

Dan Murphy | Monday, December 10, 2007

No. 6 Notre Dame extended its winning streak to nine games with a pair of wins against Princeton on the road this weekend, and defenseman Dan VeNard had the first multi-goal game of his career, continuing the offensive success of a senior who has had an up-and-down collegiate tenure.

After falling behind early Friday night, the Irish scored three straight goals and later added an insurance goal from freshman Ben Ryan to win 4-2. The following night, the Irish dominated from start to finish, winning 7-0.

“I thought that our guys were ready to play, and I didn’t think Princeton was as energetic as on Friday night and our guys capitalized on it,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said about the second game.

VeNard opened the floodgates Saturday when he snuck a one-timer underneath the crossbar 10 minutes into the first period. VeNard also picked up another goal and an assist later in the game for the first multi-goal game of his career.

“I think he’s playing with confidence,” Jackson said. “He really has never been allowed to establish himself or build the confidence before this year.”

VeNard has racked up eight points so far this year in Notre Dame’s first 20 games, which matches his total for the previous three years.

Thirteen seconds after VeNard’s first goal, the Irish struck again when senior Evan Rankin found his linemate Dan Kissel in the slot, who beat Princeton goalie Alan Reynolds for his first of two goals on the night.

Kissel also added two helpers for a career-high four points in the game.

Rankin and juniors Christian Hanson and Garrett Regan all scored, as Notre Dame tacked up four more in the second period to blow the game open.

Freshman Brad Phillips got the start in net and picked up his first career shutout with 24 saves, including 12 in the final period.

“[Phillips] came up big two or three times near the end of the game. I was really pleased with his performance,” Jackson said. “I thought he was very focused and he looked in control. It only bodes well for the future.”

Junior Jordan Pearce, who has started most of the season in net, was between the pipes for the Irish on Friday night and made 17 saves on 19 shots from the Tigers.

Princeton got off to a quick start when right wing Eric Pridham beat Pearce on the power play for his first goal of the season.

Three minutes later, Regan tied the game on a rebound opportunity. Senior captain Mark Van Guilder took the original shot and had two assists in the game.

Notre Dame dominated the second period, outshooting the Tigers 14-3, but it took nearly 18 minutes for them to get one past Princeton netminder Zane Kalemba. Junior Justin White gave Notre Dame the lead for good and freshman Calle Ridderwall and sophomore Brett Blatchford picked up the assists.

Princeton scored once more in the third period, but a short-handed goal from junior Erik Condra – his third of the year on the penalty kill – and a late goal from Ben Ryan were enough to give Notre Dame the win.

The Irish will not play again until Dec. 29 at the Lightning College Hockey Classic.