CHESTNUT HILL, MA — In a renewal of the annual game between two of the nation’s most popular Catholic schools, Notre Dame took a surprising 7-1 decision at No. 1 Boston College in front of 6,208 at BC’s Conte Forum.
The Fighting Irish got a sterling 26-save performance from goaltender David Brown, a hat trick from junior center Mark Van Guilder, and got three goals from freshman forwards Ryan Thang and Kevin Deeth.
In three games so far this season, the freshman linemates have racked up six goals and four assists, while Van Guilder has five goals and one assist all by himself. Notre Dame scored at least two goals in each period.
The Irish have been in this position before, squaring off against top-ranked Boston College. This is the third consecutive time the schools have met while BC has held the No. 1 ranking in the nation. Notre Dame is 3-0 in those games, with two one-goal wins at Notre Dame (3-2 in 2004, 1-0 in 2003).
“They flat-out beat us, in every facet of the game,” said BC coach Jerry York. “Special teams, faceoffs, individual play with the puck, transition game, you name it.”
The Irish had a distinct advantage in the early going, outshooting BC by a 14-3 margin in the first frame while outscoring the Eagles 2-0.
“It’s hard to predict how things are going to play out,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “We got off to a good start, and then withstood the pressure BC threw at us later on.”
Just a minute into the game, Notre Dame got on the scoreboard with a nifty goal by Van Guilder. After Van Guilder got control of the puck and gained the zone, he passed it off to defenseman Kyle Lawson. Van Guilder immediately got the puck back again, and lifted a shot over the shoulder of BC netminder Cory Schneider (24 saves) for the early lead.
Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead when Thang stole a puck and wristed it past Schneider. It was Thang’s second collegiate goal in three games played.
“We’re faster this year than we were last year,” said Jackson. “That’s partly because of our improved conditioning, but partly because of our freshmen.
“[The freshmen] do two things that we were missing before: play hard and think the game,” he continued.
Notre Dame had nearly the entire first four minutes of the second period on the power-play, yet, oddly enough, the best chance for scoring for the Irish came on the brief pause between penalties.
Shortly after a carry-over penalty from the first period expired, a shot trickled past Schneider in the goal crease, and both teams had a mad scramble around the open net. Notre Dame didn’t score, but the Irish did draw another penalty from BC.
Boston College appeared to be righting the ship later in the period, generating multiple chances, both at even strength and on the power play. Several excellent opportunities for the Eagles went unrewarded, as Brian Boyle muscled his way to a couple of shots from the slot that Brown stopped, and Brian Ferriero had a shot at the open net that Brown somehow managed to get a stick on to direct out of play.
“David Brown stood tall for us when we needed him to,” said Jackson. “In the second period you saw the BC talent when they sent wave after wave at our net for about eight minutes. He stood tall, especially in the penalty kill situation.”
Notre Dame even squandered a chance at a power play, as Dan Kissel was called for a diving penalty after an Eagle hook. But the Irish managed to score on the resulting four-on-four, and that seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the host team. Deeth and linemate Erik Condra combined for a pretty give-and-go play, which Deeth tapped in for an easy tally.
Boston College allowed yet another goal just one minute and two seconds later. This goal came from Van Guilder, his second of the game, beating Schneider stick-side.
Following that goal, frustration boiled over for BC, as Eagle Nathan Gerbe and Notre Dame’s captain T.J. Jindra got into a wrestling match after a whistle, and each received six minutes in penalties along with a 10-minute misconduct.
Boston College had one last chance to get back in the game, as a combination of Notre Dame penalties (Fighting Irish, indeed) led to two different five-on-three advantages for the Eagles late in the second period and early in the third.
Notre Dame managed to kill off both two-man advantages, but Brown finally allowed a goal on the resulting five-on-four opportunity, as BC’s Dan Bertram got his first goal of the year.
The goal seemed to energize BC, and the Eagles poured the shots on Brown. But the momentum was interrupted by a five-minute spearing call on BC’s Benn Ferriero. On the resulting power play, the Irish reestablished the four goal cushion as Van Guilder completed his hat trick on a goal from the blue line.
“It wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that,” said Van Guilder. “That’s the fastest team we’ve played this year; the fastest team I’ve seen in quite some time. But we’ve talked about putting together a complete game, and we finally did it. We could have played anybody tonight.”
The sixth Notre Dame goal came on a four-on-three advantage for Notre Dame, as
Condra made the score 6-1. The goal chased Schneider for the net in favor of senior Joe Pearce.
Pearce (one save) gave up a power-play goal to Thang, who took a cross-ice pass from Deeth and scored in the empty half of the net.
“All four lines are so hungry right now around the net, both offensively and defensively,” said Van Guilder. “The guys really got back on defense when we needed it, and that was huge.”
York said that the game was not something he wanted his team to forget soon.
“It’s something that stings, and we’ve got to address the things that embarrassed us in front of our fans,” he said. “It shows that it’s not going to be easy for us. The wake-up call was delivered and we received it loud and clear. We know that we need to do lots of work to improve.”
Boston College (1-1-0) hosts another CCHA team, Bowling Green, Saturday night. Notre Dame (2-1-0) travels to Rhode Island to face the Providence Friars tomorrow.