ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan freshman goalie Al Montoya has lived up to expectations all season. Friday night, Notre Dame found that out the hard way.
Montoya stuffed the Fighting Irish 35 times, including 12 on power-play opportunities, as the Wolverines extended their unbeaten streak to nine games (8-0-1) with a 4-2 victory over Notre Dame at Yost Ice Arena.
Montoya brought a 1.71 goals against average (sixth in the NCAA) and a .932 save percentage (11th) into the contest.
“[Montoya] was our best player tonight,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “He’s been playing with a lot of confidence all season.”
Montoya was helped out by his defense, especially on the power play.
Ranked second with a 92.7% penalty kill, Michigan blanked the Irish on seven attempts.
The Wolverines (9-1-1, 6-0-1 CCHA) weren’t much better, converting one of five power plays. Senior John Shouneyia scored Michigan’s power-play goal with 13:49 left in the first period to put the Wolverines up 1-0. Skating between the circles, he blasted a wraparound shot past Notre Dame goalie Morgan Cey.
Shouneyia has tallied 3-2-5 totals in five games since returning from a wrist injury.
Michigan took a 2-0 lead just before the first intermission on an Andrew Ebbett unassisted goal. Ebbett stole a Cey pass, slapping in a wrist shot with 10.3 seconds remaining. Ebbett’s goal negated a delayed penalty.
The final two periods belonged to the Irish. Notre Dame outshot Michigan 31-17, including 16-5 in the third.
“They outplayed us,” Berenson said of his team’s decline. “They were beating us to the puck and we were playing out of sync. Montoya was the difference in the game. He plays like he has more experience then he does.”
Following a Wolverine goal from Michael Woodford just 2:44 into the second period, Notre Dame (4-4-2, 3-4-0) cut the deficit to 3-1 on a Brett Lebda unassisted goal with 3:27 left.
Michigan responded 23 seconds later. Mark Mink used a nice feed from Dwight Helminen to give the Wolverines a 4-1 edge.
Michigan has outscored its opponents 21-4 in the second period this year.
Notre Dame finished off the scoring 58 seconds into the final period. Jake Wiegand knocked in an Aaron Gill rebound, catching Montoya off guard.
“If we play (Saturday) like we did tonight, we’ll be in trouble,” Berenson said. “I don’t think the score was indicative of how the game was played. I think the shots tell a better story.”
The Wolverines and Irish complete their series Saturday in Ann Arbor.