SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Led by senior goaltender David Brown and a pair of goals by sophomore Erik Condra, Notre ran its unbeaten streak to eight games Saturday night with a 4-0 win over Bowling Green.
The Irish, who also got goals from Mark Van Guilder and Christiaan Minella in the win, improved to 8-1-1 overall and 3-0-1 in CCHA play, while Bowling Green fell to 3-6-1 on the season and 1-5-0 in conference play.
The 8-1-1 record for the Irish is their best start since the 1998-99, and the eight-game unbeaten streak is the longest for Notre Dame since a 14-game winning streak in the middle of the 1987-88 campaign.
“I thought we played much more in control tonight,” said head coach Jeff Jackson. “We dictated the tempo better tonight than last night. It wasn’t a free-for-all with odd-man rushes. We made a lot of progress tonight over last night (Friday) and it was just a matter of playing smart with the puck, not giving up the odd-man rushes or making bad decisions with the puck.”
Condra put the Irish ahead to stay with the eventual game winner at 6:19 of the first period when he took a feed from defenseman Dan VeNard and steered it past Bowling Green goaltender Jimmy Spratt for his fourth goal of the season.
“That was a high roll play where the defenseman comes down the wall with the puck. Their defenseman was right on me. I moved out and he followed me and when he did I got around him and went to the net. Vern (Dan VeNard) just made a great pass and I was able to tip it in.” explained Condra.
The Notre Dame lead would go to 2-0 at 9:04 of the first when Minella, a freshman, making his first collegiate appearance scored off a two-on-one with Josh Sciba when he whipped a shot past Spratt from the slot for the first goal of his career on his first shot. Jason Paige set the play in motion when he blocked a Falcon shot at the blue line and the puck went to Sciba to start the two-on-one.
“Christiaan’s (Minella) a big lad who skates well and bangs bodies,” said Jackson. “He’ll make things interesting on our team. It took him awhile to pick up some of our systems, but I thought he did well without the puck tonight. He’s a wide body who skates well and hits people and that’s something that we can always use.”
The Irish lead would grow to 3-0 in the second period with Noah Babin setting up Mark Van Guilder for his eighth goal of the year at 9:12. Off a face-off to the right of Spratt, T.J. Jindra moved the puck to Babin on the left wing boards. Babin carried deep into the Bowling Green zone and found Van Guilder in the high slot. The junior center fired through a screen beating Spratt for his second goal of the weekend.
Condra then rounded out the scoring at 11:43 of the final period with his second of the night and fourth of the year, this one coming on the power play. Kyle Lawson and Kevin Deeth (his second assist of the game) set up the goal.
Most of the night though, it was Brown, doing what he’s done most of the season — stop the puck. His big period came in the third when the Falcons had 11 shots on goal, including four power-play chances.
“David was his usual self tonight,” said Jackson. “I don’t think he had to be as spectacular tonight as last night. There were less back door plays and fewer odd-man rushes. He had to stand tall on several power plays in the third period but he continues to be very consistent in goal.
The Notre Dame goaltender, who leads the nation in goals-against average (1.20) and save percentage (.953), echoed his coaches analysis. “It was different tonight. They had a lot of odd-man rushes last night (Friday) and a couple of breakaways. We got some fortunate bounces tonight, not going in off skates,” explained Brown.
Brown and the Notre Dame penalty killers did the job again on Saturday, stopping all six Falcon power-play changes and holding Bowling Green 0-for-11 on the weekend.
Spratt finished the night with 22 saves in the Falcon goal.
“We’re still competing with everyone in the league,” said Jackson. “We’ll find out where we stand over the next four weeks (vs. Michigan State, at Nebraska-Omaha, home with Alaska and a home-and-home with Michigan).”