BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — One week after taking three points from CCHA powerhouse Miami, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish traveled to Bowling Green to take on the twelfth place Falcons. After a close, back-and-forth contest, the Irish were able to escape the BG Ice Arena with a 3-2 victory.
Notre Dame (22-5-2, 16-3-2 CCHA) took a quick 2-0 lead, thanks to a pair of power play goals, then held on as the Falcons tied the game early in the second period. Senior Irish forward Michael Bartlett’s late second period goal proved to be the game winner as his 2nd-ranked Irish beat the Falcons for the third time this year.
Despite the poor record, the Falcons threw everything but the kitchen sink at the second-best team in the country.
“It’s something we addressed during the week,” said Bartlett, regarding the difference between Miami and BG. “Every team is a good team; there are no bad teams in college hockey. You’ve got to play hard every night, or else you’re not going to win.”
“Bowling Green played hard,” remarked Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “They put us on our heels early on They were playing real aggressive. I give them credit. They’re playing as hard as anybody we played. We just have to try to match their effort level. I think they had the advantage for the first period and a half.”
“[We're] pretty excited with the way our team was able to rebound,” said Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch. “Two quick goals [given up] in the game against an outstanding hockey team, and then we showed some real game-savvy, some poise, to get our game back and get a big goal to make it 2-1.”
“We created some really good atmosphere in the building and got it back to 2-2. And it was probably as strong of hockey as we’ve played all year in the second period.
The Irish jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead – lighting the lamp twice in less than a minute thanks to a pair of power play goals. Notre Dame finished the night 2 of 4 with the extra man.
Freshman Dan Kissel notched his 6th goal of the year from the right side of the crease, capping off a nice tic-tac-toe play from the power play unit. He was able to wrist a shot home on the Notre Dame five on three at 4:45 of the period. Mark VanGuilder and Wes O’Neill assisted.
The Irish made it 2-0 just 59 seconds later, capping off a successful power play. Temperance, Michigan native Brett Blatchford fired a shot from the right point that was tipped through the five-hole by Ryan Thang for his 16th marker of the season. Eric Condra added an assist on the goal.
“That’s been one of our focus points over the last month,” said Jackson, of his team’s power play. “Our power play hasn’t been consistent. It needs to be good again tomorrow night. That’s the key. It can’t just be one night out of two. We’ve got to get a power play goal a night; any team does.”
The Falcons would respond at 14:03 of the period. Brandon Svenden found himself alone with the puck in the left circle. He took a Todd McIlrath pass from the top of the circle and beat David Brown over the glove to cut into the Irish lead. The goal was Svendsen’s fifth and was assisted by McIlrath and Kai Kantola.
“That goal, to make it 2-1, was real big for our team,” said Paluch. “You get down early to a very confident hockey team, you need to make some plays. We made a play, and I liked our game, really, from that point on.”
Bowling Green (5-23-2, 3-18-1) tied the game at 4:22 of the second period, on a nifty play by Brandon Svendsen. McIlrath fed a pass from the right point down to the slot where Svendsen was waiting. He took the pass, pulled the puck back, then flipped it past Brown for his fifth goal of the year. Kai Kantola added an assist.
Notre Dame was able to swing momentum back into their favor moments before the second period expired. The Irish, off a giveaway in the neutral zone, skated three on two into BG’s end. Noah Babin fired a shot in on net, the rebound from Spratt coming out to the netminder’s right. Michael Bartlett, waiting near the crease, picked up the rebound and wristed it into the net for his second goal of the year. Jason Paige added the other assist.
“I watched film the other day,” said Bartlett. “I tried to go inside the d-man the last time on a rebound like that. [Babin] shot the puck and this time I went to the outside and it just ended up on my stick.”
Davis Brown stopped 18 of the 20 shots he faced in the victory, his 21st of the year.
“He made the saves he needed to make at the end. To me, that’s all I care about,” said Jackson of his goaltender.
BG goaltender Jimmy Spratt stopped 29 of 32 shots on the night in a strong performance.
The Falcons finished 0 for 1 on the power play.
The two teams will square off again tomorrow night. Game time is 7:05 pm.