SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Northern Michigan goaltender Craig Kowalski stopped all 41 shots the Notre Dame Fighting Irish fired at him and right wing Bryce Cockburn scored a pair of goals as the Wildcats blanked the Irish 4-0 in front of a sellout crowd at the Joyce Center Saturday night.
The loss gives the two teams a split of the weekend series as Notre Dame won Friday’s game 4-1. The Irish are now 8-9-5 overall and 6-6-4 in CCHA play. Northern Michigan improves to 13-7-2 on the year and moves the Wildcats two points ahead of the Irish in the league standings.
The two teams combined for 83 shots in the game with the Irish giving up a season high 42 while peppering Kowalski with 41 of their own. Freshman goaltender Morgan Cey made a career-high 38 saves in the Notre Dame loss.
Northern Michigan came out flying in the opening period firing 17 shots at Irish goaltender Morgan Cey. The freshman stopped 16 of them with the lone Wildcat goal coming off an Irish turnover.
Chris Gobert notched the eventual game-winner at 17:24 when he picked off an errant Irish clearing attempt between the face-off circles. The junior center wasted little time as he drilled a wrist shot over Cey’s glove for his sixth of the season.
The two teams traded 28 shots in the second period with Northern breaking the game open with a pair of goals 14 seconds apart late in the stanza.
Cockburn got his first goal of the night at 15:27 while he whipped a shot past Cey from the bottom of the right wing circle for his 11th of the season.
Fourteen seconds later at 15:41, Sean Owens stuffed a loose puck through Cey’s pads on a scramble to the right of the big goaltender. The goal was Owen’s fourth of the year.
The third period was a wide-open shootout as the Irish took 17 shots to 13 for Northern Michigan, but could not get one past Kowalski.
With 3:14 left in the game, Irish head coach Dave Poulin pulled Cey in favor of a sixth attacker. Cockburn closed out the scoring with an empty net goal at 18:20. Notre Dame’s Brett Lebda fired a shot at the goal only to have it deflect off Michael Chin in front. Cockburn picked up the rebound and fired it the length of the ice for his 12th goal of the season and third on the weekend.
The shutout was the first against the Irish since a 9-0 blanking at Michigan on Jan. 23.