ANN ARBOR, Mich. — On the gridiron, Michigan versus Notre Dame has been a classic matchup for decades.
Michigans 4-1 victory over Notre Dame at Yost Arena on Friday night, however, will not go down in CCHA annals as one of the classics.
The Wolverines managed to put together timely scoring with clutch goaltending by Bryan Hogan to ice the win between two teams that were expected to reside higher in the CCHA standings than their current placing out of the top four in the conference.
Its good to win a conference game at home, said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. I would say that was an ugly win. We got lucky on a couple of our goals and they were unlucky on a couple of their goal-scoring chances.
Hogan turned aside 25 of 26 Notre Dame shots and Fighting Irish freshman netminder Mike Johnson was victimized for all four Michigan goals before giving way to Tom OBrien midway through the final period.
Hogan had to play a strong game, noted Berenson.
The Fighting Irish were forced, due to the loss of four defenseman to injury, to play three forwards on the blue line. Notre Dame center Billy Maday, and right wings Riley Sheahan and Ryan Guentzel were pressed into emergency service on the blue line due to those defensive injuries.
For the most part, we played with three defensemen and we played with three forwards back there all night long, and I give those kids a lot of credit, explained Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson.
For Michigan, Rust’s line is really challenging and they really hemmed us in at times, and Caporusso’s line’s not much of a fall off. It’s tough when you’re playing basically two forwards down low in the defensive zone all the time and you’re accustomed just to having one. I give our kids credit for battling. I wish we could have generated a little bit more.
Louie Caporusso, battling a season-long slump, led the Wolverine charge with a goal and an assist and several other scoring opportunities.
Berenson called the game one of Louies best (this season). He battled hard and was rewarded.
Look at my second assist, said Caporusso of his turning fortunes. It went off my skate back to Lee (Moffie) and he put it in. Sometimes, its the bounces you get. Sometimes you dont get those bounces like what happened to me at the beginning of the season. Im feeling it come around and it feels good.
The victory drew Michigan within three points of Notre Dame in the CCHA standings.
Michigan forward Carl Hagelins ninth goal of the season was the opening periods only score.
At 8:38, Matt Rust won a faceoff cleaning back to Wolverine defenseman Tristin Llewellyn at the left point. Llewellyns shot rebounded to Hagelin, cruising through the slot. Hagelin lifted a backhand past Johnson.
Although Notre Dames Riley Sheahan finally broke their scoring drought in the second period, the Wolverines added to their lead with two goals of their own by Brian Lebler and Moffie to lead 3-1 after two periods.
Caporusso, from the left circle with his back to the Notre Dame goal, feathered a pass to Moffie breaking for the net. Moffies shot bounced to Lebler, who banked it in off Johnson at 3:05 to make the Michigan advantage, 2-0.
Sheahan drew the Irish to within one goal at 7:27 on the power play when took Ryan Thangs centering pass and slapped it past Hogan for the lone Irish tally of the game.
Defenseman Moffie restored the Michigan two goal lead, 3-1, just 90 seconds later with a power play marker of his own. Steve Kampfers original shot from the right point deflected off Caporussos skate back out to Moffie at the left point. Moffie skated a few strides toward in and toward the center of the ice and whistled a shot off the post to Johnsons left into the net.
Caporusso was the marksman on Michigans final goal of the game early in the final period at 1:02. The Toronto native carried the puck just over the Notre Dame blue line and used an Irish defender as a screen for a shot that beat a surprised Johnson high over his glove.
Michigan and Notre Dame complete their two-game set Sunday with a late afternoon contest in South Bend.
We really don’t have any choice, said Jackson of the prospects of playing short-handed on defense again on Sunday I don’t know what we can do. We’re trying to play a little bit different way to protect those forwards back there, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want us to attack. I want us to attack.
It’s a matter of those forwards that are playing defense having the confidence to jump up into the rush because they don’t want to get beat. Michigan’s got speed, so they kind of hung back at times and really didn’t give us the third or fourth man on the attack that we really needed to have.
For his part, Berenson was more focused on what his team needed to do in the rematch.
I dont know what theyll do, said the Michigan mentor. But, we need to put a better team on the ice.