BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Notre Dame’s scoring woes continued on Friday night in front of a season-high 4,956 fans at the Bowling Green Ice Arena as Jordan Sigalet saved 27 of 28 to give the Bowling Green Falcons a 4-1 win and two big CCHA points.
BG (11-9-3; 8-7-2 CCHA) climbed to the fifth spot in the CCHA with Michigan State out of league on the weekend, while the Irish fell to 5-17-5 on the season and continue to round out the pack in the league at 3-12-4 in CCHA play.
The 14th-largest crowd in BG history turned out to see Falcon greats Nelson Emerson and Rob Blake, who were in attendance at the game.
“I thought the crowd had a lot to do with the hockey game tonight,” BG head coach Scott Paluch said about the largest crowd at BG since a 1996 game against Michigan. “Our team responded early to the atmosphere, came out quick and scored some quick goals. I think it’s a real solid win for us.”
Ryan Minnabarriet was the first star of the game, scoring both of BG’s power-play goals as the Falcons came out hot from the start, taking a 3-0 lead just 12:46 into the game.
The Falcons went 2-of-11 on the power play for the night, while the Irish were 1-of-10 in a game that saw 46 minutes in penalties.
Minnabarriet’s first power-play goal, at 11:42 of the first period, proved to be the difference. His rebound from the left crease off a shot from the right circle by Brett Pilkington beat David Brown, who was scrambling across the crease.
For Brown, it was a game he’d like to forget, getting pulled just 12:46 in after allowing three goals.
Alex Foster picked up an assist as well on Minnabarriet’s third of the season, putting the Falcons up 2-0 at that point.
“Last weekend we struggled with the power play,” Minnabarriet said of BG’s 1-of-15 power-play effort at Northern Michigan a week ago. “Tonight, we just got open for shots and when they were available we took them and then were lucky enough to get some rebounds.”
“The two 5-on-4 goals we had tonight were really good sets that the guys executed pretty well with generating shots and executing the rebounds,” Paluch said.
BG’s power play was 1-for-2 in the first and generated eight shots. The Falcons outshot the Irish 12-7 in the period.
Taylor Christie netted the first goal of his college career on the left side of the net off a great play by Brett Pilkington to start the scoring for the Falcons. Pilkington hit Steve Brudzewski on a turnaround pass from just outside the circles, and Brudzewski then hit Christie for the goal at 8:33.
Soon after Minnabarriet’s game-winner, Brudzewski put the Falcons up 3-0 on a shot in front off a pass from behind the net by James Unger with John Mazzei adding an assist.
Brown was then pulled for Cey after making five stops on eight shots. Cey came in and held the Falcons scoreless throughout the rest of the period, before going on to make 19 saves on 20 shots for the night.
The Irish picked up their game following the change and generated more offense in the second period, outshooting BG 13-12.
“I thought Cey did a really good job coming in and putting out the fire,” Paluch said. “He gave them an opportunity to get back in it and they started to gain some momentum off his play.”
Michael Bartlett finally got the Irish on the board with a power-play goal 10:23 into the second. His shot in front went off the right crossbar and past Sigalet off a pass from Matt Amado behind the net.
Cory McLean added an assist on Bartlett’s second of the season, making it 3-1.
That would be as close as the Irish would get, however as Sigalet continued to make saves through out the second and into the third. A nice back-hand save on Mark Van Guilder in the third was one of a few good chances he shut down with BG stopping 7-of-8 Irish power plays in the final two periods.
“We were really aggressive out there,” Sigalet said about the penalty-kill. “Every time they’d touch the puck they’d get hit and if you do that to a team they get timid. We did a good job of standing them up and not letting them enter the zone easily.”
Minnabarriet would tally his second extra-man goal at 5:27 in the third on yet another rebound in front off a shot by Foster. Mike Falk made a nice pass to Foster in the right circle, who then fired a shot that came right to Minnabarriet to make it 4-1 and gave the Falcons the final goal of the night.
For the Irish, the lone goal of the night gave them three goals total for the last five games. Notre Dame averaged only 1.50 goals a game coming in.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind., with faceoff set for 7:05 p.m.