Nov. 17, 2007
Notre Dame, Ind. - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team put together one of their best efforts of the season as they thoroughly dominated Western Michigan in a 4-1 win over the Broncos in front of a sellout crowd of 2,857 at the Joyce Center.
Forwards Erik Condra and Mark Van Guilder (a goal and an assist) and defenseman Kyle Lawson paced the Irish attack with two points each. Ryan Thang and Dan VeNard scored the first two goals for Notre Dame as the Irish peppered Western Michigan goaltender Riley Gill with a season-high 44 shots on goal.
Mike Lesperance scored the lone Bronco goal as Notre Dame's defense limited Western Michigan to just 12 shots in the game.
The victory improved the No. 11/10-ranked Irish to 8-4-0 on the year and makes them 6-2-0 in the CCHA. The Broncos fall to 3-6-0 on the year and are now 1-4-0 in conference action. The two teams will meet in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Saturday night. Game time at Lawson Arena is set for 7:35 p.m.
"We did a good job of controlling the tempo for a majority of the game," said head coach Jeff Jackson. "We had a lot of shots tonight. As long as we are getting quality chances, that's what we are looking for and we had that tonight."
Thang got the Irish on the scoreboard first at 10:41 of the first period with his sixth goal of the season that was all extra effort by the junior right wing.
"We had a mixed line out there right after the penalty kill," explained Thang. "Whitey (left wing Justin White) got the puck Benny (Ben Ryan). The puck rolled around in his skates and he got it to me in the slot. I got hooked on the initial shot, but kept battling and got the shot off and it went in."
The Broncos were able to get the equalizer at 19:02. Defenseman Tyler Ludwig was able to keep an Irish clearing attempt in at the right point and moved it to Lesperance at the bottom of the right circle. Lesperance first shot went off Irish goaltender Jordan Pearce's pads and Lesperance was able to get the puck between the goaltender's pads and the right post for his first goal of the season.
Notre Dame's offense took over in the second period scoring three times. Defenseman Dan VeNard got what would be the eventual game winner just 2:16 into the period. The senior defenseman whipped a shot from the right point that found its way through a maze of players in front to beat Gill. Kevin Deeth and Dan Kissel picked up assists on VeNard's second goal of the season.
The Irish power play would account for the final two goals of the night. Condra made it 3-1 at 16:48 when he took a feed from Van Guilder in the slot and drilled a shot past Gill for his fifth goal of the season.
Condra returned the favor at 18:52 as he helped set up Van Guilder's power-play goal that made it 4-1. With the Irish playing with a two-man advantage, Condra found Lawson at the top of the right circle. Lawson looked like he was going to shoot, but saw Van Guilder coming off the left boards and fed it to the senior captain. Van Guilder fired from the left circle to beat Gill for his seventh goal of the year and fifth on the power play.
From there the Irish poured on the offense, but Gill kept them off the board in the third period, stopping all 18 shots he would face in the third period. Notre Dame would go 2-for-11 on the power play.
VeNard was quick to praise the Notre Dame forwards for their ability to control the puck all night.
"Our forwards did a great job of possessing the puck," said VeNard. "They really did a good job of taking care of the puck. All four lines did a great job of keeping the puck down low and working along the boards in the offensive zone."
For the night, Notre Dame out shot Western Michigan by a 44-12 margin. Gill made 40 saves on the night while Pearce had to make just 11 saves on the night.
The Irish will now look to have the same type of performance at a sold-out Lawson Arena on Saturday night.
"We just have to play our game on Saturday," said VeNard. "Last week against Miami and a couple weeks ago against Ferris State are a couple reference points that we can look back on and learn about the second night. Western has a high-octane offense and they'll be playing at home. We know they'll be ready to play and we have to play with the same intensity we had tonight."
** IRISH NOTES **
The Irish had their second consecutive sellout crowd of 2,857 and have now sold out three of their first five games of the season, averaging 2,601 per game at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame's 44 shots were a season high and the 12 shots against were a season low for an opponent against the Irish. The 11 power-play chances also were a season high for Notre Dame. Western's one power-play chance was a season low as were the two penalties for four minutes accumulated by Notre Dame.
The Irish are 6-0-0 when they score first and 8-0-0 when leading after two periods of play.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F Western Michigan (3-6-0/1-4-0) 1 0 0 - 1 #11/#10 Notre Dame (8-4-0/6-2-0) 1 3 0 - 4