Dec. 15, 2008

Courtesy of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Ind. - Christian Hanson scored two goals and Dan Kissel and Calle Ridderwall scored one goal each to lead Notre Dame to a 4-3 win over Bowling Green on Saturday night in front of a sold-out Joyce Center.

The Irish trio built a 4-1 lead through two periods only to see the Falcons battle back to cut the lead to one on third-period goals by Kyle Page and Tommy Dee for the 4-3 final. David Solway scored the third Bowling Green goal on the night.

The win extended Notre Dame's unbeaten streak to 14 games as the Irish are now 12-0-2 after starting the season with a 2-3-0 record. More importantly, they close out the first half of the season in first place in the CCHA with a 10-2-2-2 conference record, good for 24 points, one point ahead of second place Miami with each team having played 14 games. This marks the first time that the Irish have been in first place at the Christmas break. In each of the last two seasons, the Irish have been in second place, two points out of the top spot.

The top-ranked Irish are 14-3-2 overall and extend their four-year mastery over Bowling Green as they have now won 12 straight against the Falcons since the start of the 2006-07 season and are 15-0-1 since Jeff Jackson took over the reins in 2005-06. Bowling Green is now 5-10-3 overall and 4-7-1-0 in the CCHA.

"We didn't go out in the third period the way we needed to," said head coach Jeff Jackson. "I think we started our Christmas break 20 minutes early. We took some unnecessary penalties that caused a big part of our problem. It wasn't a pretty third period but fortunately we put ourselves in good position with a three-goal lead."

The Irish would take the lead late in the first period in a rapidly played opening stanza as the trio of Kissel, Ben Ryan and Erik Condra combined to make it 1-0 at the 19:36 mark.

Condra broke up a Bowling Green rush at center ice and fed the puck to Ryan at the Bowling Green blue line. Ryan and Kissel broke in two-on-one and Ryan moved the puck ahead to Kissel at the left circle. The junior left wing broke in on Falcon goaltender Jimmy Spratt and went from his forehand to backhand and slipped the puck by Spratt for his third goal of the season.

Notre Dame's power play would strike on its first chance in the second period when Ridderwall scored his ninth goal of the year at 4:52.

Defenseman Brett Blatchford moved the puck from the left point to Kevin Deeth in the right circle. Deeth fired a low, hard shot that Spratt made a pad save on. Ridderwall was parked on the right post and just flipped the rebound over Spratt's pads for the goal that gave the Irish a 2-0 lead.

The Falcons answered back at 7:32 with Solway converting a nice feed from Dan Sexton from the right corner. Solway beat Jordan Pearce with a one timer from the slot for his sixth goal of the season.

Hanson would get the next two goals of the game, scoring once on the power play and once at even strength in a 6:32 span.

With the Irish on the power play, Hanson got his first goal of the night at 9:02. Deeth found the 6-4 center cutting through the middle and put a pass on his stick. Hanson broke in over the blue line and fired a shot from the high slot that beat Spratt for his 12th goal of the season.

The lead would go to 4-1 at 15:34 when Hanson banged a rebound past Spratt for his 13th of the year to equal his career high set last season.

Linemate Christiaan Minella started the play by digging the puck out of the left wing corner. The junior moved the puck back to defenseman Ian Cole who unleashed a blast that Spratt stopped but could not control the rebound. Hanson was waiting in the slot and whipped the rebound past Spratt to close out the second-period scoring.

The third period belonged to Bowling Green as the Falcons out shot the Irish, 13-7, and outscored them 2-0.

"I don't think we had a drop in intensity as much as we had a drop in discipline in the third," said Hanson. "We took two stupid penalties and as a result, they scored two goals."

Defenseman Kyle Page would cut the lead to 4-2 at 4:23 of the third with a power-play goal that got a little help from Hanson. Page threw a shot from the left point that Hanson tried to knock down in front. Instead the puck deflected past Pearce to make it a 4-2 game. The goal was Page's second of the season with Sexton and James Perkin picking up the assists.

The Falcons would get another power-play chance late in the period and would convert at 15:53 when Tommy Dee whipped a shot past Pearce from the high slot for his first goal of the season and the Irish leading just 4-3.

From there, it was up to Pearce to hold the fort. Bowling Green pulled Spratt with 1:05 left but the Irish were able to kill off the final minute to pull out the 4-3 win.

On the night, the Irish out shot Bowling Green, 28-21. Pearce finished with 18 saves while Spratt had 24. Notre Dame was 2-for-5 on the power play while the Falcons were 2-for-7.

The Irish now break for finals and the Christmas holidays in first place in the CCHA and ranked No. 1 in the nation.

"I'm pleased with what we've accomplished in the first half," said Jackson. "Now we have to make sure that we have the right approach going into the second half to avoid what happened a year ago. It's going to be up to our leadership and our ability to stay in shape while we are on break for the next three weeks.'

Jackson added, "In my terms as far as polls and standings, everything is still early. Our objective is to finish in the top four (in the CCHA) so we can put ourselves in position to host in the second round of the playoffs. That's our objective. Our second half is going to be a lot more challenging. We only have six home games and we play at Ohio State, at Lake Superior, at Nebraska and then have Michigan and Michigan State. It going to be a real challenging second half."

Notre Dame will start the second half on Jan. 2 when the Irish participate in the Shillelagh Tournament at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill. They will open with Union College while Minnesota-Duluth faces UMass-Lowell.


GAME SUMMARY                            1    2    3 -  F
Bowling Green (5-10-3/4-7-1-0)          0    1    2 -  3
#1/#1  Notre Dame (14-3-2/10-2-2-2)     1    3    0 -  4

Scoring First Period: ND: Dan Kissel 3 (Ben Ryan, Erik Condra), 19:36.

Penalties: BGSU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 3 for 6 minutes.

Second Period: ND: Calle Ridderwall 9 (Kevin Deeth, Brett Blatchford), PPG, 4:52; BGSU: David Solway 6 (Dan Sexton), 7:23; ND: Christian Hanson 12 (Deeth, Blatchford), PPG, 9:02; ND: Hanson 13 (Ian Cole, Christiaan Minella), 15:34.

Penalties: BGSU: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.

Third Period: BGSU: Kyle Page 2 (Dan Sexton, James Perkin), PPG, 4:23; BGSU: Tommy Dee 1 (Patrick Tiesling), PPG, 15:33.

Penalties: BGSU: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 6 for 12 minutes.


Shots On Goal:
Bowling Green      3 -  5 - 13 - 21
Notre Dame        11 - 10 -  7 - 28

Goaltender Saves: BGSU - Jimmy Spratt (58:55) 10 - 7 - 7 - 24 ND - Jordan Pearce (59:52) 3 - 4 - 11 - 18

Power Plays: BGSU: 2 for 7 ND: 2 for 5

Attendance: 2,857 (sellout)