SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A night after they needed a frantic comeback to record a 5-4 win, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dominated the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in nearly every aspect of the game, sweeping the Mavericks with a 5-0 victory.
Jordan Pearce made 16 saves to notch his 12th win of the season and his second shutout. Five different players scored for the Irish in a balanced offensive attack that included two shorthanded goals.
Unlike the previous night, where the Mavericks outplayed and outscored the Irish in the first period, Notre Dame controlled the play from the outset.
“I liked the fact that we responded [to last night's slow start] to come out and play a 60-minute hockey game,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. “They elevated their game a bit in the second period, but we were able to match it. It’s never going to be a perfect game, but I really liked our effort tonight.”
The Irish’s hard work paid dividends less than four minutes into the game when senior captain Mark Van Guilder gave his team a 1-0 lead with a short handed goal. Van Guilder started the play when he stole the puck from a Mavericks’ defender in the neutral zone and skated in on a two-on-one break with Kevin Deeth. Van Guilder gave the puck to Deeth just inside the blue line, and Deeth forced Mavericks’ netminder Eric Aarnio to commit to him before sliding the puck back to Van Guilder, who tucked it into the open side of the net.
Despite the difference in play, the Mavericks were able to keep the deficit to only one goal until late in the second period, when a fortunate bounce gave the Irish a momentum-changing second goal.
Christian Hanson, or more accurately Hanson’s right skate, gave his team a 2-0 lead at 17:25 of the second period. Hanson started the play by winning an offensive zone faceoff back to Brock Sheahan, who slid the puck across the blue line to Teddy Ruth, who fired a one timer. Ruth’s shot appeared to be going wide, but it deflected off the skate and into the net for a 2-0 Irish lead.
“The [goal] that really hurt was the second one,” said Mavericks’ coach Mike Kemp. “It’s a 1-0 game down to the last two minutes of the period. They won the faceoff and the shot caroms off [Hanson] and into an empty net.”
Hanson, who scored his second goal in as many nights, said “I won the faceoff and I was just going to the net for a rebound, the puck just happened to hit off my right skate and it went in.”
Stellar work in net by Pearce was a key to the victory, especially in the second period, when Pearce made 11 of his 16 saves. He made several good stops, including a pad save on Nick Von Bokern about when Pearce moved post-to-post to rob Von Bokern of a quality scoring chance.
The night also marked a drastic turnaround for Pearce, as he was able to record a shutout only a night after one of his worst games of the season. Jackson said that he stuck with Pearce, as opposed to freshman netminder Brad Phillips, as a vote of confidence in his top goalie.
“When you have a number one goaltender, they’re allowed to have an off night,” he said. “I think it’s important that you come back with them to show confidence, and Jordan responded tonight.”
Notre Dame blew the game open with three goals in the third. Teddy Ruth started the scoring with his first collegiate goal only 49 seconds into the period, and Ryan Thang scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season shorthanded on a pinpoint wrist shot five minutes later. Freshman defenseman Ian Cole’s second goal of the season capped the scoring late in the third, as the Irish took advantage of a five-on-three power play to score their third special teams goal of the game.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, the game became physical, and the teams combined for 36 penalty minutes in the third period. Several after-the-whistle scrums culminated in a brawl with just under three minutes to play in the game, with all eight players on the ice throwing punches at one another.
The fight between Kevin Deeth and Dan Charleston, who started the scrum, was the most notable, with Charleston ripping off Deeth’s helmet from behind. Charleston was given a two minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct, while Deeth was not penalized on the play. Teddy Ruth and Bryan Marshall also received minor penalties for roughing after they squared off with one another.
The Mavericks’ next game is a home contest against Lake Superior State at 7:05 P.M. on Friday, the same day the Irish travel to Princeton for a non-conference game.