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Pluck of the Irish: Notre Dame Blanks BU

Terriers Shut Out for 1st Time in 100 Games

— Last year, Boston University scored two goals in under a minute on 12 different occasions.

Tuesday night, Notre Dame force-fed the Terriers a taste of their own medicine.

After looking lethargic through much of the first period, the Fighting Irish broke loose with two goals in 12 seconds late in the second period. When the night was over, No. 9 Notre Dame had won by a 3-0 margin over No. 3 BU in front of 5,648 at Agganis Arena, ending the Terriers 99-game streak of not being shut out — the longest such streak in the nation.

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Notre Dame’s Calle Ridderwall helps protect goaltender Brad Phillips (photo: Melissa Wade).

Irish goalie Brad Phillips led the way with 34 saves for the victors, who actually were outshot by a 34-16 margin. Ben Ryan and Calle Ridderwall added a goal and an assist for Notre Dame.

“I’m watching BU and seeing a little of ourselves out there,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “Our team’s been a little out of sync offensively, and that’s what I thought I saw with them. I thought both teams were good defensively, but managing anything offensively was a challenge out there for both teams. Maybe that’s because both teams were good teams defensively.”

For Terriers coach Jack Parker, his lament was a case of too little, too late in terms of effort. “My first observation was I thought that the first time I saw a BU hockey team show up was when we were down 2-0,” Parker said. “Up until that point, we were jumpy with the puck and getting bumped off the puck. We didn’t play real hard on top of the puck. We were inept on the power play as far as moving the puck. With the five-on-three, it was like we never practiced it.

“After we were down 2-0, we started to play hard. They were up 2-0, so they didn’t have to play so hard, but we started playing very, very well — trying to get pucks to the net, trying to use the point, looking like they knew what we were talking about out there. We got a good effort out of a lot of guys, but that’s less than half a game.”

Given that the game featured the two teams that went into the postseason as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the nation, the first period showed surprisingly little firepower. BU almost put the puck in its own net during a delayed penalty at the two-minute mark, and that was the closest either team came to scoring in the first several minutes. Notre Dame had no shots on goal for the first six or seven minutes of the period.

At 8:27, Terrier junior Nick Bonino set up Vinny Saponari for a shot on Phillips’ glove side, only to have the right wing hit the post. At 9:40, Notre Dame junior Ian Cole whiffed on a one-timer just outside of the crease with half the net open. Those were the best chances of the first period.

Notre Dame picked it up in the second period. BU sophomore goalie Kieran Millan made a blocker save on Sean Lorenz’s backhander at 4:25, then Nick Larson had a great rebound bid in the slot at 7:30. Ridderwell got another good shot from 15 feet at 15:15, and Billy Maday scored 12 seconds later on a wrister from about 18 feet out, beating Millan stick side.

Before that goal could even be announced, Notre Dame pounced again, with first-line center Ben Ryan scoring 12 seconds later. Roughly 90 seconds later, the Irish almost got a third goal when Ryan Thang’s shot hit a pipe.

BU showed signs of life early in the third period with two great chances in a row. On a breakaway two minutes in, Corey Trivino tried to beat Phillips with a high backhander, only to miss the net. Forty-five seconds later, with the Terriers shorthanded, Saponari made a long pass to spring Chris Connolly for a breakaway with no defender within 10 feet of him. Connolly hung on to the puck too long and never got off a shot.

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Boston University’s Dave Warsofsky and Notre Dame’s Ian Cole collide (photo: Melissa Wade).

The puck went the other way and was in the BU goal within 10 seconds. Ridderwall scored the power-play goal at 2:53, his second of the season. “We had some bad breaks,” Parker said. “We come down on a breakaway and don’t score, and then they come right back and score. It’s funny how often that happens.”

From there on, it was all BU. Freshman Ryan Santana hit a post at 4:00, and Connolly hit another post at 7:30 when trying to bury a rebound on a power play. Around the 11-minute mark, BU dominated territorially, keeping the puck in the Irish zone for the better part of two minutes.

After going on a power play with 3:24 left, the Terriers pulled Millan in the hopes of sparking of offense. Terrier fans hoping for a championship-game flashback were sorely disappointed, though, and BU was skunked for the first time since a 0-0 tie against Lowell on Feb. 2, 2007.

BU’s sluggish start did not surprise the Terriers coach. “It didn’t surprise because our last two practices after losing a game weren’t very good either,” Parker said. “The way you play is the way you practice, and we weren’t all that jacked up yesterday or the day before. … We are not as determined as we have to be, and we went through a little of this last year, too.”

He also expressed displeasure with how slow his team was with the puck on the power play. On the brighter side, Parker was pleased by the effort of many freshmen and others who played little last year but felt that his upperclassmen generally weren’t what they needed to be.

It was obviously a satisfying win for Notre Dame. “I just think we played with a lot more urgency,” Jackson said. “We hadn’t played with urgency in the first four games — maybe a little the second night of both series. Tonight we played with more urgency, and it was good to see. I was hoping that BU would get the best out of us in that regard. We were much more attentive, and we battled a lot harder.”

Notre Dame (3-2-0) hosts Boston College on Friday, while BU (0-2-0) faces another ranked CCHA opponent when No. 5 Michigan comes to town Saturday.

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