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Hockey: Stats don’t tell story in split with Bowling Green

Justin Schuver | Tuesday, October 28, 2003

After a disappointing start at home, the Irish needed someone to step up and inspire the team to play better. Youth was served as freshman goaltender David Brown and sophomore forward Mike Walsh answered the call.

After shoddy play in net by Irish goaltenders in a 5-3 loss at home Oct. 17 against Bowling Green, Brown posted back to back shutouts for Notre Dame in a 3-0 victory over Bowling Green on the road the following day and a 1-0 defeat of top-ranked Boston College on the road last Saturday.

Walsh collected the game-winning goal in both games.

“Mike really missed his entire freshman year with injury and mononucleosis,” Irish coach Dave Poulin said. “We’ve basically got a first-year player in Michael and we have very high expectations for him.

“I think it took him a while to get going, but he’s starting to really come around now. He looks more comfortable and has a nice start for the year.”

Brown stopped a total of 67 shots in the two games, and currently has a shutout streak of 120 minutes, 44 seconds.

He became the second Irish goaltender to post back-to-back shutouts in team history. Junior Morgan Cey did it last year against Miami (Ohio) in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. Cey also holds the Irish shutout streak with 147:19 seconds, which he set in those same playoffs.

Brown and sophomore Rory Walsh have handled the goaltending duties for the Irish this year while Cey recovers from off-season surgery.

“David’s made a lot of big saves and some very timely saves,” Poulin said. “I’d like to ultimately have the best group of goaltenders in the NCAA, because that means you have depth.

“We’re all in this for the same goal, and that’s to win hockey games.”

The win against Boston College was especially sweet in view of Notre Dame’s previous series against Bowling Green in which the Irish did not play particularly well.

It was an odd series, in which goalies proved the primary difference in both games. Falcon goaltender Jordan Sigalet stopped 56 shots in his team’s 5-3 win over the Irish, despite the fact that Notre Dame outshot Bowling Green 59-25.

In Saturday’s game on the road, Brown provided a nearly reciprocal performance, stopping 40 shots despite the fact that Bowling Green outshot the Irish 40-17.

“While those games look numerically the same, I really think we were dominant at home Friday night, but we weren’t dominated on Saturday either,” Poulin said. “The number of shots in Saturday’s game is very misleading, because a lot of shots were outside the zone.

“Again Friday, though, we just couldn’t solve Jordan Sigalet. I suppose the closest analogy would be a pitcher dominating a baseball game, because a goalie can really dominate a hockey game.”

D’Arcy McConvey, Rich Meloche, Ryan Minnabarriet, Kevin Bieksa and James Unger each had solo goals in the Falcon victory. Notre Dame got goals from forwards Michael Bartnett and Cory McLean and defenseman Wes O’Neill in the loss.

The Irish penalty kill unit, which to that point had been flawless, allowed two power-play goals to the Falcons out of six opportunities.

Notre Dame’s goaltenders never seemed to get into the flow of the game. Walsh started and gave up three goals on 13 shots through two periods before giving way to Brown, who did not fare much better with two goals on nine shots.

“I need better play from my goalies,” Poulin said after that game.

His statement must have been heard by his netminders as Brown came back with a vengeance against the Falcons in the next day’s shutout.

Forwards Mike Walsh, Josh Sciba and Rob Globke all scored for the Irish, who scored two goals in the first two minutes of the game before Globke’s goal early in the third period extinguished any hope of a Bowling Green comeback.

Notre Dame returns to CCHA action next week with a pair of home games against the Nebraska-Omaha. That series will begin Thursday with a 7:35 p.m. game. Friday’s game is also set for 7:35 p.m. at the Joyce Center.