After Notre Dame and Michigan exchanged goals nine seconds apart in the first period, the Fighting Irish added two more in the third to beat the Wolverines, 3-1.
Three different players scored for Notre Dame, and freshman Kevin Lind’s first career goal was the game-winner at 1:35 in the third.
“It was a weird game,” said ND coach Jeff Jackson. “It was like three different periods with three different games almost. The same thing happened against two of the other league teams. It took us a little time to get adjusted to their speed, and once we did, we settled down and played better.”
The Irish did play like three different teams in all three stanzas, looking a little pad-footed and getting caught in the first nine seconds after sophomore Nick Larson opened the scoring at 3:01. Larson ripped a shot that found its way through traffic from the top of the slot to make it 1-0, but Carl Hagelin answered at 3:10, breaking in alone on Mike Johnson and beating the Irish goalie on the stick side to negate the Irish lead.
“Well, my impressions are that we came out and played hard in the first period,” said UM coach Red Berenson. “It may have been a boring game from upstairs, but at ice level it was a hard-fought, close game.
“When they scored that first goal and we came back and answered, it was important. After that, goals were hard to come by and obviously very precious.”
The Wolverines outshot the Irish 9-8 in the first period, but for the last 40 minutes of the game, Notre Dame had an edge. After the scoreless second period, the Irish pounced on the only opportunities they really had in the third, resulting in Lind’s game-winner and Calle Ridderwall’s insurance goal at 10:48. Through the second and third periods, ND outshot UM 25-15.
Jackson said that winning a few more faceoffs in the third was key. “We were just getting eaten alive on faceoffs. That makes a huge difference, especially against a team like Michigan.
“I thought we were better making smart decisions, not turning pucks over in certain areas. It was a little bit more of a controlled period.”
On Lind’s goal, UM goaltender Shawn Hunwick was drawn to the right after Billy Maday hit that post from the top of the right circle. When the play moved around the goal and to the left, Hunwick didn’t; Lind shot from the far side of the left circle into an essentially empty net.
“When we gave up that second goal, which was a poor play on our part,” said Berenson, “that was a costly goal and we just couldn’t get that one back.
“The third goal we won the faceoff in their zone and they came back, created a two-on-one, outskated one of our best players, and ended up in our net.”
And that’s exactly how Ridderwall scored on the fly from Ben Ryan to cap the scoring.
The loss for the Wolverines (5-3-3, 4-2-1-0 CCHA) brings Michigan’s Friday record to 1-3-1. Hunwick, who made 30 saves in tonight’s game, is now 1-2-1 in those contests.
“He has been playing well for us all year,” said UM forward Luke Glendening. “He has kind of had the misfortune of playing on Friday night, if you want to call it that. He’s kept us in games and he kept us in it tonight.”
Johnson finished with 23 saves for his fifth win of the season.
When the teams meet again Saturday, there are adjustments the Irish (7-2-1, 5-1-1-1 CCHA) need to make, said Jackson.
“We have to do a little bit better job of protecting the middle of the ice in the neutral zone. I thought we did a good job as the game progressed. Early on, they stretched us out, they got behind us. I’d like to see us do a little bit more with the puck.”
With tonight’s win, Notre Dame sits alone on top of the CCHA standings with 17 points, followed by Miami with 15, while Michigan drops to third with 13.
The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. in Yost Ice Arena for Saturday’s rematch between the Irish and the Wolverines.