Ice Hockey: No. 5 Irish overwhelm Wolverines

The No. 7-ranked Michigan ice hockey team returned to Yost Ice Arena for a critical CCHA contest with the No. 5-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period despite getting just five shots on net, and the Irish cruised to a 7-3 win on the road.

Michigan turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Ryan Thang, a freshman winger for the Fighting Irish, picked up the loose puck in space. Coasting into the Michigan zone, Thang fired a pass through the Michigan crease. It bounced off the skate of Michigan forward David Rohlfs, past Billy Sauer, and into the Michigan net.

It was that kind of night for the Wolverines who dropped their second straight home game on Friday night at Yost Ice Arena. Despite out shooting the No. 5-ranked ND hockey team, the Fighting Irish coasted to a 7-3 win behind a goal and three assists from Erik Condra.

"I have to give Notre Dame credit. They took advantage of their chances. From our perspective, we gave up goals too easily. The shots were 9-3 and the score was 2-0 in the first period. We can't give up goals that easily," Michigan coach Red Berenson said after the game. "We didn't capitalize on our good chances and that's how the game went. Then when we did score, they scored within two minutes and took that momentum away three times in the game."

Notre Dame struck first less then two minutes into the contest. With control of the puck in the Michigan zone, the Irish found a way to move the puck back to defenseman Tom Sawatske. Sawatske quickly fired a shot from the top of the circles that beat Michigan goalie Billy Sauer and found the back of the net.

Andrew Cogliano had a chance to tie the score near the middle of the frame, but the Michigan center couldn't get a good stick on a crossing pass from Chad Kolarik.

After killing off another Michigan power play, the Irish made it 2-0 on a controversial goal with 33 seconds left on the clock. While skating with a man advantage, the Fighting Irish sent in a shot from the point. Sauer made the initial save for Michigan, but Garrett Regan picked up the rebound and tucked it away while falling to the ice. It appeared as if the net was lifted off it's moorings on the goal, but replay was not enough to overturn the call and the goal stood.

Michigan made it 2-1 just 11 seconds into the second period. Michigan carried the puck into the Notre Dame zone, and an errant clearing attempt by the Fighting Irish came to the stick of Michigan captain Matt Hunwick. Hunwick quickly relayed a pass to Andrew Cogliano along in front of the Irish net, and Cogliano deked around Notre Dame goalie David Brown and backhanded the puck past the sprawled out goalie.

Michigan kept the pressure on, but the Irish pushed the lead back to two goals after going on the power just a minute and a half later. Eric Condra recorded his second point of the night by snapping a blocked shot into the Michigan net.

Again, Michigan struck to bring it within one, however. Brandon Naurato trimmed the lead to one goal with a power-play marker at 12:10. Mark Mitera controlled the puck inside the Notre Dame zone for the Wolverines. A hard shot ricocheted off the mask of Brown to Travis Turnball. Turnball quickly fired the puck to Naurato who put it in the back of the net.

Notre Dame answered back again though, this time on a redirection in front of the Michigan net. After the Wolverines were unable to clear their defensive zone, Brett Blatchford threw the puck at the net for the Irish. Josh Sciba redirected it past Sauer to make it 4-2.

Then Rohlfs put the puck in his own net to end the night for Billy Sauer. Michigan trailed 5-2 after the second despite an edge in shots.

Notre Dame extended the lead to six goals early in the third and the Wolverines answered with a goal from Chad Kolarik, but the Fighting Irish put one more away late in the game to bury any chance of a Michigan comeback.

Game two of the weekend series is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in South Bend.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories