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Hockey: Squad wins two vs. NMU

Dan Murphy and Matt Gamber | Monday, February 16, 2009

The nation’s top power play unit was at it again over the weekend as the Irish scored on 10 of their 16 man-up chances in a pair of home wins over Northern Michigan.

No. 2 Notre Dame (23-5-3, 17-4-3-3 CCHA) converted 6-of-8 power play opportunities in a 9-5 win Friday before scoring on 4-of-8 in Saturday’s 5-2 victory over the Wildcats (11-15-4, 8-12-3-3). The sweep gives the Irish a four-point lead over second-place Miami (Ohio) in the conference standings with four games to play.

The Irish have now scored 42 power-play goals on the year with a 25.3-percent success rate. Top-ranked Boston University ranks second in each category with 42 power-play goals and a percentage of 24.1.

“It’s all timing,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said Saturday. “I wish we saved some of these for another night.”

Notre Dame 9, Northern Michigan 5

It took only 1:21 to spring a leak in the Wildcat defense. Senior center Garrett Regan got things started by deflecting a Kyle Lawson shot past senior goalie Brian Stewart. Ten minutes and two Erik Condra goals later, Stewart took himself out of the game.

Irish defenseman Brett Blatchford found Condra cutting to the back post and the senior captain slapped it in for a 2-0 lead. Two minutes later Condra sniped the top right corner on a wrist shot and junior Derek Janzen took over between the pipes for Northern Michigan.

Senior wing Justin White and sophomore Ian Cole also finished with a pair of goals on the night.

But the Wildcats would not go quietly. Forwards Ray Kaunisto and Phil Fox both scored for Northern Michigan late in the first period to keep things close. The two teams continued to fight back and forth with the Wildcats tying the game 4-4 five minutes into the second period.

From that point Notre Dame took over, scoring four straight power-play goals to bury the Wildcats. Cole started things off with a big blast from the point less than a minute into the final period.

At 11:04 of the third, Northern Michigan defenseman Mike Maltese got whistled for hitting from behind. Maltese was given a five minute major and ejected from the game. Notre Dame capitalized by scoring three goals during the penalty to put the game out of reach. Calle Ridderwall, White and Cole all scored during the five-minute stretch.

Notre Dame 5, Northern Michigan 2

It took Notre Dame a bit longer to score Saturday night, but the Irish piled it on quickly with a pair of power play goals in the final 1:23 of the first period.

Freshman right wing Billy Maday opened the scoring off a Brett Blatchford rebound from the bottom of the left circle. Center Kevin Deeth was also credited with an assist as he started the play from the left side.

With eight seconds left in the first, sophomore left wing Calle Ridderwall scored his 14th goal of the year on an assist from Maday and Deeth, who won the face-off on the Wildcats’ side of the ice.

Just 30 seconds into the second period, the Irish power play struck again. This time it was Lawson beating Stewart from in close on a nifty pass from Condra.

“I just slid back door, Condra made a great play, and I got a little lucky with it bouncing in off his pad,” Lawson said.

Three minutes later, sophomore center Ben Ryan scored on the power play to make it 4-0 Irish on assists from Condra and Lawson.

“It was kind of a broken play where the puck ended up and I just found a seam,” Ryan said.

Gregor Hanson scored two goals in a four-minute span to cut Notre Dame’s lead in half midway through the second period, but Garret Regan gave the Irish an even-strength insurance goal with seven minutes left in the period to cap the scoring at 5-2.

Pearce made 17 saves in the victory.