No. 5 Wolverines Rout Fighting Irish

The No. 5 University of Michigan hockey team took one large step towards a second consecutive CCHA regular season championship tonight with a 9-2 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Fort Wayne, Ind. <br><br> The win improved the Wolverines CCHA point total to 42, where they now sit three points ahead of the Buckeyes with three conference games remaining. <br>

With the season starting to wind down and the Buckeyes creeping up on the Wolverines in the CCHA standings, Michigan was looking for a victory tonight to hold off the Buckeyes for one more night. A high-flying offensive attack from the Wolverines did just that.

Freshman Kevin Porter got things rolling for the Wolverines only one minute into the contest thanks to a beautiful cross-ice pass from T.J. Hensick. The pass found Porter in the slot and Porter sent the puck into the net past Notre Dame goalie Morgan Cey.

Three minutes later at the 4:02 mark, the Wolverine offense struck again on their first power play opportunity of the night. Milan Gajic beat Cey high from just inside the left circle for his 15th goal of the season.

The Irish cut the lead to one goal at 7:07, capitalizing on a Wolverine miscue. While short handed, the Irish cleanly won a face off inside the Wolverine blue line and flipped the puck towards Michigan goalie Al Montoya. A strange bounce suddenly found Montoya out of position and the Irish's Jason Paige tapped the puck into the back of the net. That was as close as Notre Dame could inch the rest of the night, however.

Michigan added one more goal before the close of the first period, again from the left circle. With the puck at the blue line, Jeff Tambellini found Chad Kolarik open inside the circle for a one-timer that would make the score 3-1.

Like in the first period, the Wolverines would score in the first minute of play during the second period, this one :09 in. Andrew Ebbett controlled the opening face off back to defenseman Matt Hunwick. Hunwick advanced the puck through the neutral zone before sending it back to Ebbett to skate it into the Irish zone. Ebbett sent the puck right to left for teammate Eric Nystrom who tipped the puck into the net to make it 4-1.

Ebbett later scored a goal of his own to make it 5-1 by tapping the puck into an open net at 15:57 after Cey misplayed a cross from the Wolverines Mike Brown.

The final goal of the period would come at 17:35 when Matt Amado sent a one-timer over the shoulder of Al Montoya for the final Irish goal of the night.

In the final period of play, Michigan would add two goals from T.J. Hensick, a second goal from Chad Kolarik, and a goal from Michael Woodford Jr. while coasting to the 9-2 victory.

Michigan and Notre Dame conclude their regular season series tomorrow night at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.

The combination of a Michigan win and Ohio State loss on Saturday night would clinch the Wolverines second consecutive CCHA regular season championship.

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