SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame got goals from Brett Lebda, Cory McLean and Mike Walsh and goaltender Morgan Cey made 10 saves in the third period to lead the Fighting Irish to a 3-2 win over Lake Superior State Friday night at the Joyce Center. The win gives the Irish three consecutive wins for the second time this season.
The victory improves Notre Dame to 12-13-6 overall and 10-10-3 in CCHA play. The win gives the Irish 23 points on the season and combined with Northern Michigan’s 7-4 loss to Michigan State and Western Michigan’s 3-3 tie with Bowling Green, moves the Irish into a three-way tie for sixth place in the CCHA.
“It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin. “We played well in the first period, but after that we got away from the little things that we did well. We were trying to score instead of doing the things that it takes to score.”
Lebda got the Irish on the board at 9:27 of the first period on a nifty give-and-go with left wing Michael Chin.
Lebda broke up a Lake Superior rush at the Irish blue line and moved it up the right wing boards to Chin. The senior carried the puck into the Laker zone where he left it for the junior defenseman, who moved in and slid the puck under LSSU goaltender Matt Violin for his fifth goal of the season.
The goal was important for the Irish as it marked just the 12th time this season that they scored the game’s first goal. They are now 9-0-3 when getting the first goal.
McLean made it 2-0 just 3:44 into the second period with a beautiful move to beat Violin for his ninth of the season.
“I think they expected me to take the shot coming down the right side. That’s what I did on a chance I had in the first period,” said McLean. “I faked the slap and he gave me the toe drag. The goalie seemed to be leaning the other way, so I slid it through the five hole. I surprised myself with the move, but I’ll take the goal.”
Notre Dame’s lead went to 3-0 when Walsh got his first goal of the season off a scramble in front of Violin just 2:20 into the second period. Linemates Kyle Dolder and Tim Wallace each had scoring chances around the goal, but Violin stopped both of them. The big left wing stuffed the puck into the net a 3-0 lead, and what turned out to be the winning goal.
“We got some balanced scoring tonight. It was nice to see Mike Walsh finally get rewarded with a goal after all he’s been through this season. Cory’s goal was a tremendous goal,” said Poulin.
Lake Superior came back to score 54 seconds later to snap Cey’s shutout bid and cut the lead to 3-1. Adrian Kremblewski scored his second goal of the season at 3:16 of the period, and when Kyle Anderson got his sixth of the year at 5:49, the Lakers were back in the game.
“We relaxed after the third goal and they were able to score 50 seconds later to take some of the momentum away from us,” said Poulin.
The Irish outshot Lake Superior 22-13 in the third, but Cey and Violin held each team of the scoreboard. The Lakers had one last chance as the Irish were whistled for too many men on the ice with 56 seconds left, but Notre Dame killed off the rest of the clock for the crucial 3-2 win.
For the game, Notre Dame outshot the Lakers 50-21. Violin finished with 47 saves on the night.
“The bottom line is that we got the two points,” said Poulin. “We have to play better tomorrow night and we will.”