SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Tim Wallace shoveled the rebound of a Josh Sciba shot over Rensselaer goaltender Jordan Alford at 9:09 of the third period to snap a 1-1 tie and give Notre Dame its first win ever over the Engineers by a 2-1 score on Sunday evening at the Joyce Center.
The win gave the Irish a weekend split with the visitors from Troy, N.Y., and improved them to 5-10-4 on the season. R.P.I. falls back under .500 with the loss to 9-10-2 on the year. Notre Dame returns to CCHA play next weekend when the Irish travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on Jan. 7-8 for a two-game series with the Lake Superior Lakers. The Engineers will head home to take on Dartmouth and Vermont in ECACHL action.
Notre Dame’s scoring struggles continued as the Irish peppered Alford with 34 shots in the game, but could only get a pair of shots behind them. That was enough though for Notre Dame to pick up its first win of the 2005 portion of the schedule.
“It wasn’t much different that last night,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin following the game.
“We may have had a few more quality shots, but they just aren’t going in for us. R.P.I’s goaltender (Alford) is a pretty good goaltender and made some big stops, but we have to find a way to score. It’s just not happening right now.”
“I thought we had a good weekend, but I didn’t think we were as sharp as we were last night,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “But I thought that we played well defensively and there were a lot of positives this weekend.”
With the offense struggling, Notre Dame turned to its defense as the Irish held R.P.I. to just 17 shots in the game and just 10 over the first two periods. The lone Engineer goal came on a power play as Morgan Cey made key saves when needed throughout the night.
“When you aren’t scoring, you have to play more of a defensive game. We focused on the defense and they did a great job all night, blocking shots and moving the puck. Morgan (Cey) gave us the opportunity to win tonight, just as he did on Saturday and tonight we were able to get that key goal,” explained Poulin.
After a scoreless first period, Notre Dame got on the scoreboard first when T.J. Jindra drilled a shot past Alford from the right wing circle just 1:49 into the second period.
Defenseman Wes O’Neill started the play in his defensive zone moving the puck off the right wing boards to Matt Amado at center ice. Amado fed Jindra at the R.P.I. blue line where the sophomore right wing made a nice move to get around the defense to bury his third goal of the season for a 1-0 Notre Dame lead.
R.P.I. would tie the game at 10:20 of the middle period on a power-play goal by Jake Luthi. Kevin Croxton moved the puck to Brad Farynuk at the point and Farynuk found Luthi alone near the bottom of the right wing circle. Luthi’s shot beat Cey as he tried to move from the left post to the right post. The goal was Luthi’s third of the season.
Wallace got the game winner at 9:09 of the final period as he followed Sciba’s shot from the slot that Alford stopped. Michael Bartlett also picked up an assist on the goal. That extended Sciba’s point streak to four games (2-2-4) and Bartlett’s point streak to three games (0-3-3).
“Timmy (Wallace) has really done a nice job for us since we moved him to center. He’s been strong on face offs and picked up a big goal for us tonight,” said Poulin.
For the game, Alford finished with 32 saves while Cey made 16 in getting the win. R.P.I. was 1 for 5 on the power play while the Irish were 0-for-4 in the game and 0-for-13 on the weekend with the man advantage.