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Red hot Irish win 12th in a row

Joe Meixell | Monday, December 8, 2008

Two more games, four more CCHA points for the top-ranked Irish.

Notre Dame (12-3-2, 8-2-2-2 CCHA) extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games this weekend, taking 3-1 and 1-0 decisions over Ferris State.

Irish senior goalie Jordan Pearce stopped 30 of 31 Bulldog shots Friday night, and made 25 saves Saturday to earn the shutout.

“I thought he played well both nights,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “I thought Friday night they were definitely trying to shoot at bad angles on him and create rebounds. Our team did a good job of coming back and not allowing any of those rebound shots to be taken. [Saturday], I think he was in much better control of the puck coming off his body.”

Ferris State got on the board first Friday, when Blair Riley knocked in a rebound at the tail end of a 5-on-3 Bulldog advantage just 53 seconds into the second period.

Notre Dame stayed positive, though, and equalized on a Ben Ryan goal. The sophomore tucked in an Erik Condra rebound at 8:29 of the second period.

“It seemed like the second period we started coming on,” Jackson said. “And when we scored I think we were dictating the tempo of the game.”

The Irish took the lead just 1:12 later with the first of two power-play goals of the night when sophomore Calle Ridderwall redirected a Christian Hanson feed past Ferris State goalie Tyler Nelson.

Hanson gave Notre Dame an insurance goal on the power play at 16:02 of the final period with his team-high 10th score of the season.

Jackson said the Irish power play, which leads the CCHA with a 23.9 percent success rate, has done well because of the selflessness of the players on the unit.

“They’re sharing the puck,” he said. “No one player has been trying to do too much.”

Jackson also said, though, that the squad would have to adapt to maintain its effectiveness.

“Teams are going to find ways to try and shut it down,” he said. “And we’re going to have to try to find ways to give it a different look.”

The Bulldogs shut down the Irish power play Saturday night, holding the unit scoreless in five chances. It didn’t matter, though, as a second period goal from Dan Kissel was all the scoring Pearce needed. Kissel knocked in a Hanson pass at 17:55 of the second period for the game-winner.

Even though the score was tighter, Jackson said he felt his team played better Saturday night against Ferris State’s unique defensive trap style.

“I feel like we had to see it live to get accustomed to what we were going to face,” Jackson said.

Jackson also said the ability to win tight, low-scoring games is an important part of any championship contender.

“Having the ability to close out games is extremely important,” he said. “Our team has to know how to buckle down. They have to know how to play smarter with the puck. It’s all about turnovers, and it’s about making sure you don’t get beat up the ice by extra people.”

With only two games remaining in the first half of the season, Notre Dame currently sits in second place in the CCHA, three points behind leader Miami. The Irish, though, have two games in hand against the RedHawks.

“We want to get to [the CCHA championship in] Detroit,” Jackson said. “The biggest thing for us is making sure that we finish in the top four. Every game makes a difference, and we have to just play each league game with that in mind.”