Oct. 31, 2009

Notre Dame, Ind. - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish got stellar goaltending from freshman netminder Mike Johnson and goals from Calle Ridderwall, Dan Kissel and Billy Maday as they opened the defense of their CCHA regular-season title with a 3-1 win over Ohio State in front of a sellout crowd at the Joyce Center on Friday night.

Johnson, making just his second career start, stopped 27-of-28 Buckeye shots on the night while the Notre Dame power play converted twice - goals by Ridderwall and Kissel - with Maday scoring into an open net with 18 seconds left to seal the Irish win. Ohio State got a power-play goal from John Albert in the first period for its only goal of the night.

The victory improved #11/#8 ranked Notre Dame to 4-3-0 on the year and 1-0-0-0 in the CCHA. The Buckeyes fell to 1-2-0-0 in conference play. The two teams will close out the series on Saturday, Oct. 31 in a 5:05 p.m. contest at the Joyce Center.

"This was a tough hockey game; a real gritty game. We got everything that I expected from Ohio State," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.

"It was a challenging night for each team trying to feel good about yourself and what you are trying to generate offensively. Both teams played well defensively, both goalies played well, it was one of those tough gritty games.

Power-play chances were the key to the game as Ohio State went 1-for-8 with the man advantage and the Irish were 2-for-9. The Buckeyes were able to take advantage of a 1:31 five-on-three advantage in the first period while Notre Dame scored on a five-minute power-play chance in the third.

Ohio State would take a 1-0 lead at 13:04 of the first period with Sean Lorenz and Kyle Lawson in the penalty box; Albert would capitalize on the 5-on-3 chance. Right wing Taylor Stefishen moved the puck around the right wing boards to center Zac Dalpe near the right face-off circle. Dalpe found Albert alone in the slot and the junior center snapped a wrist shot past Johnson for his second goal of the year and a one-goal lead for the Buckeyes.

The Ohio State lead would last less than two minutes as the Irish answered with a power-play goal of their own off the stick of Ridderwall at 14:53. Brett Blatchford fired a shot from blue line that was deflected in front by Christiaan Minella. OSU goaltender Dustin Carlson made the stop but Ridderwall banged home the rebound from the left side of the crease to even the score at 1-1. The goal was Ridderwall's fourth of the season and third on the power play.

From there, Carlson and Johnson took over in goal, stopping 14 and 10 shots respectively in the second period to keep the score tied at 1-1.

"I thought Mike (Johnson) played great in the second and third periods," said Jackson.

"He was a little shaky in the first, giving up rebounds which might have just been him being nervous. In the second and third he was controlling the rebounds which is important against Ohio State because they go so hard to the net."

After giving up Albert's goal in the first, nothing got by the freshman goaltender from Verona, Wis.

"I just tried to keep it simple and just do what I know how to do and stop the puck," explained Johnson.

"The guys played awesome in front of me, blocking shots, clearing rebounds, getting the puck out of the zone when we had to. A lot of the credit goes to them; they played great tonight."

The game stayed tied until the midway portion of the third period when Ohio State defenseman Matt Bartkowski was given a five-minute major for hitting from behind as he leveled Minella with a check into the left wing corner at the 9:02 mark of the third.

Notre Dame wasted little time converting as the Irish scored 15 seconds into the power play at 9:17 with Kissel getting the eventual game winner on his second goal of the season.

Ben Ryan won the face off in the left circle and moved the puck behind the OSU net where Kyle Palmieri picked it up and centered it to Kissel in the low slot. The senior left wing was able to jam it past Carlson to light the lamp and make it 2-1.

"All week long the coaches talked about getting gritty in front of the net and we knew we had a great opportunity with the five-minute power play," said Kissel following the game.

"They told me to go out and stand in front and that's what I did. (Kyle) Palmieri made a great pass out in front and I was able to jam it home."

Johnson and his teammates were forced to kill a pair of penalties in the final 6:10 of the game. The Buckeyes pulled Carlson with 1:10 left on the clock to give them a 6-on-4 advantage but they could not score.

With under a minute left Lawson came away with the puck to the left of Johnson and banked it off the boards to Kevin Deeth. The senior center was able to get the puck to Maday at the Irish blue line and he carried it through center, dumping it into the open net with 18 seconds left to seal the victory at 3-1. The goal was Maday's second of the season.

"This was a big win for us," said Kissel.

"Since I've been here, Ohio State has always been a good matchup for us. I don't think we've won two straight against them in my four years. We knew it would be a tough game and everyone was excited to get back into CCHA play. It was a good win for us to start the weekend.

Notre Dame out shot the Buckeyes, 33-28, on the night. Carlson had 30 saves in goal for Ohio State.