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Hockey: Irish, Wolverines split pair

Chris Allen | Monday, November 15, 2010

The freshman-laden No. 11 Notre Dame team got its first taste of a bitter rivalry with No. 9 Michigan this weekend, splitting a pair of games on the road at hostile Yost Arena. The Irish won 3-1 on Friday night before dropping a 5-3 decision on Saturday to the Wolverines.

“I thought the kids played well this weekend,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “Friday was a really solid game, and Saturday was a real tough game emotionally for us because the kids played very hard.”

This year’s edition of the rivalry between the Irish (7-3-1, 5-2-1-1 CCHA) and Wolverines (6-3-3, 5-2-1-0 CCHA) got underway Friday as the teams traded goals in a sloppy, disjointed first period. Sophomore left wing Nick Larson scored first for the Irish three minutes into the period, and the Wolverines wasted no time in equalizing the score, as left wing Carl Hagelin netted nine seconds later. The rest of the first period passed without either team adding to the score. Jackson said his concern about the Irish adjusting to the intensity of elite teams early on in games was on display on Friday.

“It’s happened to us two or three times now,” Jackson said. “We need to do a better job of recognizing the situation going into a road environment. We can’t play too loose offensively, obviously there needs to be some creativity, but there needs to be smart creativity on the offensive end.”

The game settled down in the second period and both teams put together a strong defensive period. The game remained scoreless going into the third period.

In the third period, the Irish pulled ahead for good on goals from freshman defender Kevin Lind and senior wing Calle Ridderwall. The go-ahead goal from Lind—the first of his career — came less than two minutes into the period.

Jackson said he was pleased with the play of many of his freshmen standouts over the weekend.

“The freshmen are learning how to prepare themselves to play,” Jackson said. “[Freshman wing] Jeff Costello moved up this weekend to one of our top lines. [Freshmen] Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan continue to play on the top lines. Mike Voran is showing his ability to play more minutes. They’re getting chances to play on the power play and on the penalty kill as well.”

The Wolverines responded to the Irish victory with a five-goal performance on Saturday night. Michigan rode three second-period goals to take the lead for good. Notre Dame led 2-1 after one period on goals from Tynan and Lee, but two goals in the span of a minute for Michigan and a late goal from Hagelin were too much for the Irish. Senior defender and captain Joe Lavin also lit the lamp in the game for the Irish. Jackson said the fluky nature of some of the goals for Michigan lessened his concern about the game’s result.

“They were strange circumstances,” Jackson said. “Give Michigan credit, because you have to be a talented team to take advantage of some good bounces, but there were some strange goals on Saturday. I felt bad for [sophomore goaltender] Mike Johnson. I thought he played very well in the game, and some of the goals he gave up, I don’t know if anyone could have stopped them. It was a little disheartening.”

The loss on Saturday ended a five game road trip for Jackson’s team, as the Irish went 2-2-1 on the tough stretch. They will be back in action Friday at the Joyce Center against Michigan State in CCHA action.