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Hockey: Irish earn two points at Northern Michigan

Sam Gans | Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Irish left Northern Michigan feeling satisfied with two ties over the weekend, but disappointed in missing out on two potential conference points by losing the shootout both games.

Notre Dame (5-2-2, 3-1-2-0 CCHA) played the Wildcats (4-3-3, 1-2-3-2) to a 2-2 tie Friday followed by a 1-1 stalemate Saturday. Northern Michigan defeated the Irish 1-0 in the shootout both nights.

Irish coach Jeff Jackson was happy to earn two ties in the hostile Berry Events Center, but upset at the result of the shootouts.

“It’s frustrating. I’m not a fan of the shootout,” Jackson said. “We played two pretty good road games, and we tied two games which is important to us from an NCAA standpoint, but the shootout losses hurt us as far as points in the conference go.”

The Irish got off to a slow start Friday when Wildcat sophomore forward Ryan Kesti scored his first career goal 6:02 into the game to give Northern Michigan a 1-0 lead. Irish sophomore right wing Mike Voran tied the game later in the period, then senior right wing Billy Maday put Notre Dame ahead early in the second period.

Wildcat senior forward Justin Florek quickly responded with a goal of his own to make the score 2-2, where the margin would stay for the rest of the contest. Sophomore forward Reed Seckel scored the lone shootout goal for Northern Michigan.

Though the Irish were unable to claim a victory Friday, the return of sophomore left wing Jeff Costello was a bright spot for the team.

“[Costello] had a positive impact for us,” Jackson said. “He’s going to be a factor for us from a physical perspective, and he’s still recovering.”

Saturday night was a similar story, except the Irish got on the board first. Sophomore right wing Bryan Rust scored his first goal of the season to put Notre Dame up 1-0. Wildcat senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan tied the game in the third period and senior forward Tyler Gron scored the shootout winner.

Though the Irish wound up on the losing end of the shootout both games, Jackson was pleased with the play of sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson, who ended with 19 saves Friday and 21 saves Saturday.

“I though Mike [Johnson] played very well,” Jackson said. “I’m disappointed he didn’t get more for his effort. You work hard and get two ties, but with those shootouts you come away feeling like you’ve lost. But we came away with two ties against a top-20 team, and he gave us a chance to win in both games.”

While Jackson was impressed with his netminder, the other side of the ice was disappointing. The Irish peppered senior goaltender Reid Ellingson with 45 shots Saturday, but could only get one past him.

“We were just unable to get the puck in the net,” Jackson said. “We were getting chances and we had a couple of wide open looks, but their goalkeeper was coming across and making those saves on us.”

After four straight road games, the Irish will return to their home ice this weekend, something Jackson is looking forward to.

“We’ve got a big weekend coming up here,” he said. “It’s our first game in Compton with all of the students back, so we’re hoping to have a great student crowd. Hopefully we’ll get a big crowd for our open house on Monday and a big crowd this weekend.”

The Irish return to the ice against Alaska at the Compton Family Ice Arena this Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday at 5:05 p.m.

 

Contact Sam Gans at sgans@nd.edu