PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Fresh off a 7-1 thrashing of number-one Boston College, Notre Dame completed a weekend sweep of Eastern Catholic schools with a 6-1 win over Providence. Freshman Dan Kissel completed a hat trick and goaltender David Brown stopped 22 of 23 shots.
Kissel, the lone Fighting Irish freshman forward who had yet to score, got them on the scoreboard in a first period in which they were outplayed and outshot, 11-4. He added his second in the decisive second period and finished off the hat trick on a third-period breakaway.
Notre Dame (3-1-0), perhaps sluggish in the wake of the huge upset one night earlier, was fortunate to be leading after one period, 1-0, and after two had been outshot 20-11, but held a 4-1 lead.
“Shots on goal don’t mean anything,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “It’s more about scoring chances, what we’re generating both offensively and denying defensively. The first period we were dominated in a lot of different areas. I wasn’t happy about any aspect of our game. But I thought after that first period we started playing much stronger hockey.”
The game also saw the return of ND assistant coach Paul Pooley to Schneider Arena, where he had been PC head coach from 1994 through 2005.
For Providence (1-3-0), the loss made for a slower start to the season than expected, albeit in all nonconference games. In particular, the loss to Notre Dame was eerily similar to a 6-1 loss to Clarkson the previous weekend.
“I’m not happy,” PC coach Tim Army said. “That’s three out of four [losses] and we’ve taken two on the chin pretty good. We’ve got to get better.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments to solidify things. We’re trying to be wide open, to be aggressive offensively. However, four of our six defensemen are freshmen and sophomores and we get a little bit loose at times and we’re getting exposed a little bit. We may have to find a way to tighten that up. And our power play has to be better.”
The first period opened slowly with grade A scoring chances few and far between. Ironically, Providence’s best chance came on a shorthanded breakaway by Colin McDonald. The center captain made a great deke on goaltender David Brown and seemingly had him dead to rights, but Brown flashed out a leg and made the huge stop.
Little more than two minutes later, at 11:04, Notre Dame scored the period’s only goal, Kissel’s first of the season. Coming on the power play, Kissel whacked at the puck from the left post and it trickled through freshman netminder Ryan Simpson’s five hole.
The two sides then took turns clanging iron. The Fighting Iron hit the pipes first on another power play after smartly moving the puck around to Kevin Deeth on the right. Zancanaro followed suit later from the right doorstep on a feed from McDonald.
The period ended with PC holding a 10-4 shot advantage, but trailing, 1-0.
It took only 1:15, however, for Notre Dame to extend its lead to 2-0 while four-on-four. Kissel and Mark Van Guilder traded passes with Kissel finally beating Simpson short side.
Less than a minute later, Evan Rankin fed Jason Paige from the left boards to the far post. Paige initially lost the puck in the crease, but then stuffed it home for his first of the year and a 3-0 lead.
Just when things were looking bleak for the Friars, they picked off a pass in the offensive zone and Nick Mazzolini passed to Colin McDonald, who roofed it glove side. The goal, coming at 5:02, was McDonald’s fourth of the season and made it 3-1.
The energized Friars promptly went on a power play. Although they did not score, they continued to carry play in their offensive zone for a time at even strength. Brown, however, held Providence at bay until the Irish went on the power play.
On the man advantage, Deeth put Notre Dame back up by three goals, converting at the right post a cross-crease pass from Ryan Thang.
The third period lacked drama, save for breakaway goals by Michael Barrett and Kissel.
Notre Dame resumes play next week at the Lightning College Hockey Classic, taking on Army in the opening round. Providence begins league play against Merrimack on Friday and Massachusetts-Lowell on Saturday.