SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A combination of strong goaltending by Irish netminder David Brown and exceptional offense carried the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-3-2, 6-3-2 CCHA) past the Northern Michigan Wildcats (5-6-0, 4-5-0 CCHA) 5-1 at the Joyce Center on Friday night.
“This was as good a team win as we’ve had in a very long time,” said Irish coach Dave Poulin. There can’t be a guy in our locker room right now that shouldn’t feel good.”
One of the things the Irish can feel good about is their ascent up the CCHA standings. With the win, the Irish pull within one point of first place Ohio State, a position they haven’t been in since the ’98-’99 season, when the Irish started the year with an 8-1-2 mark. However, Poulin isn’t worried about that statistic.
“We’re doing the little things well. Finishing the checks, defense, decision-making. We’re starting to play well on a consistent basis.”
One facet of the game Poulin is particularly happy with comes from the leadership within the locker room, and not the coaches’ office.
“Right now, it’s not the coaches demanding from the players, but rather the players demanding from the players.”
As has been typical for the Irish this season, Notre Dame got another strong performance from David Brown in net, stopping 19 of 20 shots.. He allowed just one goal on the night, a power play marker with just 2:28 left in the game. As the shot from Northern defensemen Nathan Oystrick found the back of the net, Brown was visibly upset at losing the shutout.
“David said to me, ‘Coach, I just didn’t see it,” Poulin explained, referring to the screen play in front of the net.
Notre Dame got on the board at the 10:35 mark of the first period as senior center Rob Globke beat Northern netminder Craig Kowalski over the shoulder and just under the crossbar for his eighth goal of the season. Noah Babin and Brad Wanchulak assisted on the goal.
“There are a handful of guys in hockey that make that goal. That was a goal scorers goal,” said Poulin.
After the Fighting Irish killed off a 5 on 3 power play midway through the second period, sophomore Chris Trick scored his first collegiate goal at 11:34. Trick stepped out of the box after serving a high sticking penalty, picked up a loose puck, and skated it in, beating Kowalski for the unassisted shorthanded goal.
The Irish added another marker in the period just under two minutes later as right winger Cory McLean stuffed the puck under Kowalski in a scrum at the net. Aaron Gill and Mike Walsh picked up the assists for the Irish.
Notre Dame put the game away in the third period, getting goals from Gill and Jason Paige, Paige’s goal coming on the power play.
Craig Kowalski stopped 25 of 29 shots. NMU backup goalie Tuomas Taarki, who came in for Kowalski after Notre Dame’s fourth goal, stopped four of five shots he saw.
Notre Dame finished 1-7 on the power play, while Northern Michigan tallied one power play marker in four chances.
The two teams will square off again tomorrow night from the Joyce Center. Gametime is 7:05 pm.