SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The luck of the Irish was still around the Joyce Center for Saturday night’s tilt between Notre Dame and Ferris State, as the Irish managed to complete the weekend sweep.
The defensive corps played a big part in the Irish victory, as senior defensemen Neil Komadoski and Tom Galvin totaled six points in the 4-1 win.
Just two minutes into the contest, a point shot off the stick of Galvin found its way behind Ferris State junior goaltender Mike Brown, who couldn’t see through the traffic jam in front. The goal was Galvin’s first of the season and gave the Irish the 1-0 lead.
Under six minutes later, with the Irish on the power play, Komadoski took a similar shot from a slightly different vantage point and met with the same result — behind Bulldog Brown, giving the Irish the two-goal advantage.
The zero was erased from the Bulldog side of the scoreboard four minutes later. Ferris State junior forward Mike Kinnie made a great individual effort coming up the middle of the Irish zone, then shot over freshman Irish goalie David Brown’s shoulder (the two ‘tenders are not related) to bring Ferris within one.
The Bulldogs continued to have problems from the injury bug as early in the second period, Bulldog goaltender Mike Brown was hit in the throat with a slapshot and taken off the ice, to a hospital for observation.
The injury was not the first of the series. In Friday night’s contest, Bulldog center Jeff Legue was hit in the head with a puck, and did not participate in Saturday night’s game.
Backup Tom Mueller came into the game for his first Division I appearance, and the Bulldogs’ level of play improved in the second period, but not enough to result in a tying goal.
As the night before, the Irish took command in the third. Komadoski scored his second of the night just 1:45 into the third session, again on the power play, and freshman forward Michael Bartlett added an insurance goal to give the Irish the three-goal lead.
“We played as well, or better, than to be expected. We’re missing three forwards, two of our top three [defensemen], plus our goaltender. No disrespect to the guys we had, but our numbers are dwindling,” Ferris coach Bob Daniels said.
“I thought the kids played well. Some guys had some opportunities that they don’t normally get, and I thought they responded pretty well. … So overall, I’m displeased that we lost, but I’m not displeased with the effort and the way the kids played.
“We had some chances, but I thought Notre Dame did a terrific job in front of their goal. It was hard to get any kind of rebounds or anything like that. Then the two goals in the third were backbreakers.”
“At this point in the season, [this is] a huge four points,” Irish coach Dave Poulin said. “I was not pleased at all after the second period. I thought we reacted very poorly to the change in goaltenders. Our guys saw a guy come in, and all of a sudden we totally changed the way we played. They all of a sudden rallied and they were coming, and we weren’t responding at all.
“Our defenseman have been tremendous all year. They haven’t scored a lot of goals, but they’re the reason that our defense, from a defensive standpoint, is as good as it is. But tonight they scored the goals as well.”
Poulin also pointed out one more interesting fact about his senior defensive corps: three of them — Brett Lebda, Galvin, and Komadoski — all led the team in scoring each of the past three years. Lebda led his freshman year, Galvin sophomore year, and Komadoski last year.
“At this time of the year, it’s going to be defense that does it. You know that. The goals are going to be harder and harder to come by — they’re hard enough to come by anyway. So going into this time of year, to be playing well defensively is integral, no question.”
Both Notre Dame and Ferris State have next weekend off.