SOUTH BEND, Ind. — For the first time since their lone defeat at Minnesota State, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were forced to play catch-up against the Bowling Green Falcons.
Despite a series edge of only a game, the Irish came into Friday taking the last three meetings between the two teams. The Falcons came in 3-1-0 when scoring first, and they did just that, as sophomore defenseman Kevin Schmidt notched his first NCAA goal at the 10:14 mark of the first period.
The Irish answered right back, scoring twice in a six minute span to close out the first period. The second period saw Notre Dame fail to score on three power plays, and freshman Tomas Petruska knotted the game up at the 6:34 mark of the period. Neutral zone turnovers plagued the Notre Dame forwards during the period, and led to several BG odd-man rushes.
“We just made poor decisions with the puck, and their goalie sent high rebounds that kicked over our guys and up ice,” said Notre Dame head man Jeff Jackson.
The third period was the undoing for freshman goaltender Eddie Neville (1-3-1), as he saw five ND power plays in the 20-minute span, and allowed the red light behind him to go off three times. Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch said of the five penalties, “we got away from our discipline that we’ve shown all year . . . that’s what hurt us.”
The BG freshman netminder was badly out of position on three of the five Irish tallies, and when asked if Neville will continue the goalie tandem with sophomore Jimmy Spratt, Paluch said that the coaches “will evaluate the situation tomorrow.”
Notre Dame freshman Ryan Thang was the number one star of the night, chipping in two goals, including the eventual game winner at the 5:38 mark of the third period. Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson called Thang “the kind of player coaches love- intense, physical, and smart.”
Notre Dame’s domination of the third period showed both in the score sheets and on the ice the Falcons could only muster three shots on goaltender David Brown in the final period. In addition, a Notre Dame power play that entered the period scoreless in seven chances, scored all three of their final goals on the power play.
Josh Sciba extended his point streak to four games with a power play goal in the third period, a streak is tied for the second longest of the season for the Irish.
Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch said that even though his team has to go on the road against a Top 10 opponent, “rankings aren’t a motivating factor- we’re motivated to scratch, claw, and earn points in this conference.”
Paluch will hope his Falcons have that extra motivation tomorrow night at the Joyce Center- a loss would give Bowling Green 5 defeats in the CCHA in the young season.