SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Coming off a tough road loss and a short week of practice, the No. 14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish turned to a couple familiar faces to help them defeat the Lake Superior State Lakers, 7-3, in the first of a two-game set.
Junior Erik Condra, who has led the Irish in points the last two seasons, tied his career high with five points on the night, two goals and three assists, and senior captain Mark Van Guilder, who was the second-leading goal scorer for the Irish last season, had two goals and two assists.
Another key to the game was Notre Dame’s power play, which snapped out of a slump to score three goals on five chances. Coming into the contest, they had converted on only one of 24 chances in their past three games.
“We changed the [power play] units up a bit, and it made us more comfortable out there,” said Condra. “We did a good job of moving it to the open man and not trying to force anything.”
The Irish (5-3-0, 3-1-0) got their first power-play chance a little less than halfway into the first period. Laker freshman forward Rick Schofield held Kyle Lawson in the neutral zone, and then proceeded to hook Robin Bergman only seconds later, giving the Irish a four-minute power play. For the first three minutes, it looked as if the struggles were going to continue, as Lake Superior State’s penalty killers bottled up the Irish. With just over a minute left on the advantage, however, sophomore Ryan Thang was able to snap the skid. Thang found himself wide open in the slot, receiving a pass from Mark Van Guilder, who won a battle for the puck behind the net. Thang immediately ripped a snap shot over the glove of Laker goaltender Pat Inglis, who made 19 saves on the night, to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Irish power play was able to come through again in the second period, scoring two goals on a five-minute advantage to blow the game open. The power play came courtesy of Laker sophomore Zac MacVoy. After MacVoy was checked by Irish defenseman Ian Cole, he skated the width of the ice and high-sticked Evan Rankin in retaliation. After the whistle, Dan VeNard confronted MacVoy, and MacVoy appeared to throw a punch, earning a five minute major and a game misconduct.
Similar to the first period, the Lakers were able to successfully defend the first half of the long Irish power play. However, they could not complete the penalty kill. With just over two minutes remaining in the power play, Van Guilder took a shot from the left circle. Inglis made the initial save, but the rebound lay right in front of the net for Erik Condra to poke into the back of the net. Kevin Deeth also had an assist on the play, and recorded three assists on the night.
Van Guilder’s second goal of the night stretched the Irish advantage to four less than two minutes later. Irish defenseman Kyle Lawson’s shot from the right side was blocked, but the puck found its way right onto the stick of Van Guilder in the slot, who promptly beat Inglis on the glove side.
Condra was able to add the final touches on a stellar night less than a minute into the third period. Condra, went streaking into the zone and deflected a pass from Robin Bergman through the legs of Inglis to increase the Irish lead to 7-2.
The Irish received another solid performance in goal from junior netminder Jordan Pearce, who had several important stops among his 12 saves on the night.
Before the Irish were out to an insurmountable lead, the Lakers (1-3-1, 0-1-0) tied the score on Nathan Perkovich’s fourth goal of the season, taking advantage of a fortunate hop. Perkovich received a pass from Zac MacVoy and took a shot from just inside the blue line. Erik Condra partially deflected the shot in the deep slot, but the puck bounced high off the ice and over the shoulder of an unsuspecting Jordan Pearce.
Senior defenseman Dan VeNard’s first goal of the season put the Irish back on top with 1:38 left in the first period. VeNard took a pass on the right point from Ian Cole and ripped a slap shot through traffic and past Inglis into the top corner. The goal was VeNard’s first since his sophomore season.
The Irish were able to double their lead only seconds into the second period. Erik Condra gained control of the puck at his own blue line, and skated all the way into the offensive zone. His wrist shot from the right half boards was stopped by Inglis, but he was unable to control the rebound, leaving it in the slot, where Robin Bergman was crashing in the net. Bergman, a freshman, tucked the puck into the open net for his first collegiate goal.
Another stellar play from Condra led to the Irish’s 4th goal of the night. As the Lakers were clearing their own zone, Condra was able to get a stick on a pass and deflect it right to Mark Van Guilder, who’s slap shot beat Inglis low on the stick side for Van Guilder’s fifth goal of the year.
Rick Schofield’s was able to cut the Laker deficit to 4-2 when he tipped in a Steven Olseky shot. The goal was the first of Schofield’s career.
After a goal from Josh Sim, the visitors had a couple of chances to make the score 7-4 about halfway through the third period. Jordan Pearce was up to the task, however, making two big saves to keep the Lakers at arms length.
Notre Dame and Lake Superior State conclude the two game series tomorrow night at the Joyce Center. The puck drops at 7:35 P.M.