SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Sooner or later you just knew it would come to an end. And on Friday night in front of a standing-room only crowd of 3,007, Notre Dames 20-game unbeaten streak was over. Eight ranked Michigan won 2-1 in South Bend, the first of a home-and-home series between CCHA rivals.
The Wolverines got goals from Travis Turnbull and Tim Miller and goaltender Bryan Hogan stopped 28-of-29 shots to hand the Irish their first loss since Oct. 25 versus Miami. Notre Dame had gone 17-0-3 since that 3-2 loss to the RedHawks.
Ryan Guentzel had the lone Irish goal in the game and Jordan Pearce continued his stellar play in goal, stopping 30-of-32 Michigan shots on the night.
The loss drops top-ranked Notre Dame to 19-4-3 overall and 13-3-3-3 in CCHA play, good for 32 points and a two-point lead on second-place Miami in the conference. The seventh-ranked Wolverines continued their hot play as the win gave them 10 in their last 11 as they improved to 19-8-0 on the year and 13-6-0 in the CCHA, good for 26 points.
The streak was fun for the kids and good for the program, said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
But the other side is that its about us getting ready for the end of the season. Sometimes losses are good for the soul. Things happened tonight that will help us later in the season. Ive been saying that the second half of the schedule was going to be tough, now well see how we respond.
Notre Dame took the play to the Wolverines in the first period and had several good scoring chances but Hogan kept the Irish off the board, stopping all 16 shots he faced.
They would get on the scoreboard at 16:59 of the opening period off a play that started in the Michigan zone. Erik Condra carried the puck down the right wing boards and appeared to be pulled down by a Wolverine defenseman and lost control of the puck. David Wohlberg picked the puck up in the right circle and fed it across the ice to Turnbull in the neutral zone. The senior right wing carried it all the way in on the Irish goal where he snapped a shot under the cross bar over Pearce for his seventh goal of the season to give Michigan the 1-0 lead.
The lead would go to 2-0 just 40 seconds into the second period when Miller scored off a faceoff to the right of Pearce. Miller faced off against Notre Dames Ben Ryan and both players swiped at the puck but missed. With the puck lying in the circle, Miller snapped a shot that caught the far post, beating Pearce for his sixth goal of the season.
The Irish finally got on the scoreboard at 10:18 of the middle stanza with Guentzel scoring off some nifty stick work by defenseman Kyle Lawson.
We were on the rush and I just went to the net, explained Guentzel who scored his third goal of the year.
(Ryan) Thang got the puck in the slot and I thought he was going to shoot so I just stayed in front for the screen. Then he dished it off to (Kyle) Lawson who dangled one of their defensemen and went around the goalie. He put it right on my tape and I closed my eyes and it went in.
From there, the goaltenders took over as neither team could get a puck past either netminder as Michigans defense was able to put the clamps on the Irish especially in the third period as they limited Notre Dame to just five shots.
Give Michigan credit. They played smart in the third period and made good decisions with the puck, said Jackson.
They kept the puck to the outside and their D-zone coverage was good. They didnt give us much off the cycle and that took away from one of our strengths.
Jackson and his players know they now have their work cut out for them, as they will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face the Wolverines at Yost Arena in a 7:35 p.m. game.
Michigan is a heck of a hockey team, said Jackson.
Theyve been playing their best hockey in the last month and we saw their best hockey tonight. It was what I expected. It would have been better to win tonight and take that to Yost because its such a tough place to play. We have a tough challenge tomorrow night. Well see how we respond.