MARQUETTE, Mich. — In hopes of starting 2008 with a conference win, Notre Dame traveled to the Berry Events Center to take on Northern Michigan. Coming into the series, the Wildcats hold the all-series lead (18-13-5) against the Irish with a home record of 8-4-2 and werent willing to lend to the Irishs tally, besting them 2-1.
The first period began with vigor, both teams seemingly eager to get back to CCHA play after last weekends holiday tournaments. The defense skated hard and obstructed the puck blocking several scoring opportunities before they reached the net.
At 10:31, Wildcat sophomore, Matt Butcher, popped the puck over the left shoulder of Fighting Irish goalie Jordan Pearce to put the Cats on the board.
Matt is a very good, young prospect, coach Walt Kyle said. The skys the limit with him. Hes a very good player and hes really stepped up this season.
The first period ended with a score of 1-0 and the Cats outshooting the Irish 9-5.
Freshman Mark Olver added another goal to the Wildcats tally 6:30 into the second period on a power play with a fast shot past Pearces right leg.
Mark was outstanding tonight, Kyle said. He came to play. He and his line played very well.
At 10:34 the Irish made their scoreboard debut with a shot from sophomore Dan Kissel. After an uncalled slash to the mask against Notre Dame, aggression picked up. The second period ended with a four-man brawl, penalizing two players from each team.
The Wildcats started the third period one man down as senior Matt Siddall served an unsportsmanlike conduct call. The Irish were unable to utilize the power play and took a hooking penalty a mere 23 seconds later. Despite another power play for each time, the third remained scoreless leaving the Wildcats with a 2-1 win.
Notre Dame is a very good team, Kyle said. Theyre difficult to play against and make it tough to get opportunities. We played well. Brian Stewart made some great saves.
Stewart, NMUs goalie, had 21 saves for the evening with the help of the Wildcat defense.
Our defense was great tonight, Stewart said. They battled hard, especially at the end of the game. They made my job a lot easier. They blocked a lot of shots before they got to the net. It was great.
Well have to play better tomorrow because theyre going to bring a better game, Kyle said. Its one of three nights all year weve held a team scoreless on power plays and thats a lot to build on.
The Wildcats (9-11-1 overall, 6-9-0 in the CCHA) will host the Irish (17-5-0, 10-2-0) again Saturday night at 7:35 p.m.