SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Freshman goaltender David Brown made 32 saves to record his team-record fourth shutout of the season as Notre Dame bounced back for a 3-0 shutout win over Bowling Green at the Joyce Center.
The shutout was Brown’s second of the year versus Bowling Green as he blanked the Falcons 3-0 on Oct. 18.
Brown got all the offense he would need as fellow freshmen Jason Paige and Josh Sciba staked him to a 2-0 first-period lead and senior defenseman Brett Lebda added a power-play goal late in the second stanza. For the year, Irish goaltenders have recorded a Notre Dame-record six shutouts.
The victory gives the Irish a season split with Bowling Green and improves Notre Dame to 11-7-2 on the year and 8-6-2 in CCHA play. With 18 points in the league standings, the Irish are all alone in third place, one point behind Michigan and Miami.
For Brown, who had lost his last three starts, the shutout was a boost to the Stoney Creek, Ont., native’s confidence.
“The Western Michigan and Cornell games were very frustrating for me. They were a real test to my character,” said Brown. “Against Western, I was dropping the puck in front and there were fluky bounces, and the same with Cornell. The puck just was bouncing funny. Tonight I just tried to simplify things. Focus on one shot at a time. Stay focused. I think we all came out with something to prove tonight.”
Paige would give Brown all the offense he would need when he scored on a wrister from the left wing circle at 13:42. Right wing Matt Williams-Kovacs dumped the puck behind the Bowling Green goal. The puck came in front to defenseman Wes O’Neill, who got a shot of that Jordan Sigalet stopped.
O’Neill grabbed the rebound and slid it back to Paige who fired a wrist shot over Sigalet’s glove. For Paige, it was his fifth of the season and second of the weekend.
Sciba made it 2-0 when he got behind the Bowling Green defense and chased down a long pass from Rob Globke at the Bowling Green blue line. Sciba raced in on Sigalet and beat the junior goaltender for his fourth of the season.
“That’s the kind of play that we are looking for from Josh. That’s the kind of offensive skill he has to wait for the puck and then go in on goal and know where to go with the puck,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin.
For the second night in a row, both teams had numerous power-play chances. The Falcons had seven, but were unable to score against the ND penalty-kill. BG had five of those chances in the second period, but Brown stopped all 15 shots he faced.
“We really did a tremendous job killing penalties tonight, especially in the second period when they had most of our chances,” said Poulin.
“The credit really has to go to the team. I really thought everyone played a real solid game tonight,” said Brown.
“Everyone was upset about the way we played on Friday. We gave a win away. We put that game behind us and focused on this one tonight,” he added.
The Irish took advantage of one of their three second-period power-play chances at 16:11 when Brett Lebda’s shot from the right point deflected off Sigalet’s stick to make it 3-0. The goal was Lebda’s fourth of the season and his second of the weekend. The Irish have now scored power-play goals in 13 of their last 14 games.
“This was a good team win tonight. If you look at the scoresheet, nine guys contributed to the scoring, we played strong defensively in front of David Brown and we bounced back from Friday’s game,” said Poulin.
“Sometimes the lessons are better learned in losing, learning to deal with adversity. This team has to learn to keep things on an even level. Not get too high, not get too low. We continue to keep learning.”
On the night, Notre Dame outshot Bowling Green 40-32. Sigalet finished with 37 saves in the loss. Notre Dame was 1-for-9 on the power play.