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Hockey: Ridderwall records hat trick in victory over Lakers

Douglas Farmer | Monday, January 25, 2010

Facing its fourth top-20 team in a row, Notre Dame earned four points in the conference standings over the weekend with a win and a shootout loss against No. 18 Lake Superior State.

“Anytime you go on the road and win and tie it’s a good weekend,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “Especially against a team who is 9-1 in its last 10 games.”

The Irish (11-10-7, 7-7-6-2 CCHA) set a season high with six goals in a 6-1 victory Friday night. Senior Ryan Thang, junior Ben Ryan and sophomore Patrick Gaul each scored one goal in the offensive explosion, while junior Calle Ridderwall recorded his second hat trick of the season.

“Calle was the benefit of good play down low on the cycle,” Jackson said. “He did a nice job on transition as well. That line has a little bit of everything, and right now they seem to be clicking.”

Thang, one of Ridderwall’s linemates, knocked in his fifth goal in the last three games to tie the game at one.

“Obviously with the injury to [sophomore] Billy Maday, it opened up a spot to try and get Ryan going,” Jackson said. “It has certainly started to take off.”

Despite their line’s four goals in the night, neither Ridderwall nor Thang assisted on a goal Friday. Instead, all six goals were assisted on by defensemen as seniors Kyle Lawson and Brett Blatchford and junior Joe Lavin each dished out a pair of assists. Their dramatic appearance on the state sheet brought accolades from Jackson.

“Our core defensemen are as good as any in college hockey,” he said. “If they start being involved in the offense, activating on transition, it gives us a fourth man on the rush and allows us to generate more.”

After Thang’s first period goal tied the game, the Irish scored their next five goals all in the second period.

In contrast to Friday’s offensive show, The Irish displayed defensive strength Saturday night to tie the Lakers 1-1.

Freshman goalie Mike Johnson saved 45 of 46 shots, after knocking down 24 of 25 the night before. The solid back-to-back performances were a first in the young goaltender’s career.

“[Johnson] played exceptionally,” Jackson said. “[He] gave our team a chance to win, and at least come out of the game with a point. Hopefully that is going to be the beginning of him being able to play at that high level of consistency.”

Freshman Nick Larson netted Notre Dame’s lone goal of the night, a mere 23 seconds after Lake Superior State (14-9-5, 9-8-3-2) beat Johnson with a shot. In the shootout, Ryan, Ridderwall and Thang shot and missed for the Irish, while Laker Domenic Monardo converted his attempt for the shootout win and an extra point in the CCHA standings.

With the win and the tie over the weekend, Notre Dame moved into sole possession of sixth place in the conference, only three points behind Lake Superior State in fourth.