March 18, 2007
Detroit, Mich. - The CCHA championship game on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena was a classic confrontation as the league's toughest defense - Notre Dame - ran into the conference's best offense - Michigan. The game featured wide-open, end-to-end play, fierce checking, some great scoring chances and great goaltending and yes, the defensive team won out as the Irish handed the Wolverines a 2-1 loss in front of 16, 481 at Joe Louis Arena.
Notre Dame goals by Erik Condra and Jason Paige were the difference in the contest along with some stellar defense and penalty killing as the number one-ranked Irish earned their first CCHA championship in 17 seasons in the conference. Kevin Porter scored the lone Michigan goal in the first period.
Both goaltenders had stellar nights as the Irish out shot the Wolverines by a 37-32 margin. David Brown made 31 saves in the win while Michigan's Billy Sauer stopped 35.
The Wolverines took a 1-0 lead at 19:54 of the first period when defenseman Jack Johnson rifled a shot from the right point that Brown got his blocking pad on. The rebound found its way to Porter in the high slot and he fired a shot over Brown's right shoulder that caught the crossbar and went in. For Porter, the goal was his 23rd on the season.
The Irish rebounded to tie the game at 15:58 of the second period off some stellar work of the line of Ryan Thang, Kevin Deeth and Condra. Thang and Deeth worked the puck in the left wing corner with Deeth coming out from behind the net to try to stuff a shot on Sauer. The Michigan goaltender got his pad on it, but the rebound found Condra in the slot and he rapped the loose puck home to tie the game at 1-1.
The score would stay that way until the 8:52 mark of the third. Defenseman Brett Blatchford broke up a Michigan rush in the neutral zone and moved the puck ahead to Garrett Regan. Regan carried into the Michigan zone and fired a shot that Sauer lost the handle on. The rebound was loose in the crease and Paige pulled it away from the Wolverine goaltender to flip the puck into an open net for the 2-1 lead. The goal was the 11th of the year for Paige and set a career high.
From there, the Irish defense got some breaks on St. Patrick's Day as they held off the Michigan attack for the 2-1 victory.
The win improves Notre Dame to 31-6-3 on the year while Michigan is now 26-13-1. Both teams will make the NCAA Tournament and will find out on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. where they will play next week.
Brown, who gave up one goal in two games in Detroit, was an all-tournament selection and the CCHA tournament MVP. Joining him on the all-tournament team from Notre Dame was defenseman Wes O'Neill and Condra at forward. Michigan placed forwards T.J. Hensick and Kevin Porter on the team along with defenseman Jack Johnson.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F #9/#9 Michigan (26-13-1) 1 0 0 - 1 #1/#1 Notre Dame (31-6-3) 0 1 1 - 2