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Brown, Irish allow 14 goals in pair of losses

Justin Schuver | Monday, December 8, 2003

The Notre Dame hockey team’s strengths became its weaknesses this weekend as the Irish dropped a pair of games on the road to Western Michigan.

The Irish, who came into the weekend with the third-best defense in the entire nation, gave up a combined 14 goals in the two games.

“These were the worst two games that we’ve played this season,” Irish coach Dave Poulin said. “Why they happened this weekend, I couldn’t tell you.”

Freshman goaltender David Brown, who had been nearly unbeatable earlier in the season during a three-game shutout streak, gave up a combined 12 goals in the 8-6 and 6-4 losses. He made only 51 saves, for an abysmal .801 save percentage on the weekend.

“David just wasn’t sharp tonight,” Poulin said after Friday’s loss. “He had some trouble with rebounds. They were dropping down in front, usually he snaps them up.”

It was a call back to earth for the Irish, who entered the weekend ranked first in the CCHA for the first time ever this far into a season.

Notre Dame also saw its five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2) snapped after Friday’s loss. Brown lost two games in a row for the first time this season.

An unusual offense showed up in Kalamazoo, Mich., for the usually defensively-stout Irish, as the team scored 10 goals in two games, but that normally-solid defense failed both nights.

“We didn’t do the little things that we’ve done so well this season,” Poulin said. “Like clearing our zone, dumping the puck to areas we can get to it, finishing checks. We played one good period of hockey this weekend and that was the third period of tonight’s game.”

In Friday’s loss, the Irish got goals from six different players – Matt Amado, Aaron Gill, Brett Lebda, Jason Paige, Josh Sciba and Cory McLean.

Western Michigan jumped out to an early lead as Jeff Campbell scored twice and Pat Dwyer collected a goal of his own to give the Broncos a 3-0 lead after the first period.

The Irish came back to tie it at the start of the second period in just one minute, 23 seconds at 3-3 on goals by Amado, Lebda and Paige.

Brown then played shakily, allowing Vince Bellissimo, Jeremy Cheyne and Dana Lattery to collect three goals to give the Broncos another three-goal lead going into the final period.

Rory Walsh took over for Brown in the third and gave up another goal to Cheyne, but the Irish came back to answer with goals from Gill and Sciba to make it 7-5. Ryan Mahrle scored for the Broncos and McLean scored for the Irish late in the third for an 8-6 final.

“When we tied the game at 3-3 early in the second period, I thought we were in good shape,” Poulin said. “But then we had two major breakdowns that ended up in the net, and it became a shootout.”

Saturday, Notre Dame scored first with a goal from Michael Bartlett, but the Broncos came back to answer with a Campbell tally.

Forward Mike Walsh scored to make it 2-1 in favor of the Irish, but that lead lasted only 47 seconds as Campbell came right back to tie it once more.

The Broncos then scored twice to take a 4-2 lead, and they would not relinquish that lead for the rest of the game. Bartlett would score again for the Irish, and McLean would also score to close out the Irish offensive output.

Notre Dame managed to cut the lead to 5-4, but Brent Walton scored into an empty net to win it for the Broncos.

The Irish now break for the Christmas holidays and return to action Dec. 27 as they travel to Estero, Fla., to face Cornell in the first round of the Everblades Collegiate Holiday Classic.


Notre Dame extended its string of games with a power play goal to nine with Bartlett’s goal in the second period Saturday. Gill’s goal Friday was also on the power play.

Former Irish star Ben Simon scored his first NHL goal Saturday in the Atlanta Thrashers’ 4-3 overtime win over the Florida Panthers.

Simon scored Atlanta’s tying goal that sent the game into overtime. He was a member of the Notre Dame hockey team from 1996 to 2000.