SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The No. 18-ranked University of Michigan hockey team bolstered its NCAA Tournament resume on Friday night (Feb. 16) as it took down No. 1-ranked Notre Dame, 4-2, at Compton Family Ice Arena. A stellar performance by sophomore goaltender Hayden Lavigne, who recorded 34 saves, lifted the Wolverines to a hard-fought victory.
Michigan struck first when sophomore forward Adam Winborg tipped in a shot from freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes. Junior defenseman Joseph Cecconi passed the puck to a waiting Hughes at the Notre Dame blue line. Hughes walked the line and fired the puck on net, where Winborg was able to get in behind the Irish defense and redirect the puck into the goal for a 1-0 lead with 7:26 remaining in the opening period.
The Wolverines continued the pressure and were rewarded with another goal three minutes after their first when the "DMC" line connected with 4:20 left in the opening frame. Senior defenseman Sam Piazza threw a breakout pass to junior forward Cooper Marody in the defensive end, where Marody took the puck up the ice and left a drop pass for senior linemate Dexter Dancs, who took the pass and was able to put the puck past the netminder for his eighth goal on the season and a 2-0 U-M lead.
The Irish started the second period on the man-advantage and it proved to be the break Notre Dame needed as they scored a power-play goal 1:27 into the middle stanza. Jake Evans passed the puck to the point where Matt Hellickson shot it towards the Wolverine net. Joe Wegwerth was able to get his stick on it in the net-front battle and tipped the puck into the U-M net, cutting the Michigan lead in half.
It did not take long for the Wolverines to get back to a two-goal advantage as senior captain Tony Calderone tapped in the puck for his team-leading 16th goal. Marody took the puck deep into the Notre Dame zone and found sophomore forward James Sanchez in the slot. Sanchez's shot was stopped but the puck squirted past the Notre Dame goalie, where Calderone was able to tap it in for a 3-1 lead, 4:27 into the second.
Notre Dame continued to threaten with its power play, as Evans found himself with the puck in the slot with a gaping net in front of him, but Lavigne slid across his crease and made a diving kick-save to maintain the two-goal lead. The penalty killers held their ground even after the Irish went on a five-on-three advantage, and fended off every attack Notre Dame's top 20 power play threw at them.
The Irish power play was able to strike again before the intermission, as they cut the lead to one again with 1:13 remaining in the second period. The goal happened on a shot from the point with traffic in front of Lavigne, with Bobby Nardella scoring from the slot. That proved to be the last goal in the second period as the Wolverines took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Michigan opened the scoring in the third period when freshman forward Michael Pastujov scored to put the Maize and Blue ahead by two goals once again. The goal was a family affair, as he was helped by older brother, sophomore Nick Pastujov. The elder Pastujov brought the puck up the wing and delivered a beautiful saucer pass to his younger brother for a 4-2 lead 8:08 into the final period. The play was set up by sophomore defenseman Luke Martin, who intercepted an errant Notre Dame pass at the red line and was able to spring Pastujov on the break.
Lavigne continued to make spectacular saves in the third to protect the Maize and Blue's lead. Shortly after the fourth goal, Lavigne made a diving save with the paddle of his goal stick to keep the score at 4-2 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
The Irish wouldn't quit, and thought they had scored their third goal with 3:44 left in the third period on a deflection from the slot. The goal was reviewed and it was determined that Jack Jenkins tipped the puck with his stick above the crossbar and negated the scoring play to keep the score at 4-2 in favor of U-M.
Despite heavy pressure from Notre Dame in the final moments, the Michigan defense held strong and kept the puck away from the net which secured the 4-2 victory for the Wolverines.
HAIL TO THE VICTORS!— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) February 17, 2018
Michigan knocks off No. 1 Notre Dame, 4-2. pic.twitter.com/xDCAe0bdBQ
The win was U-M's ninth over a No. 1-ranked team since polls were introduced in the 1995-96 season. The Wolverines have won back-to-back games against top-ranked team. Prior to tonight's victory, the last time Michigan faced the No. 1 team in the country was the a home victory over Minnesota to close out the 2013-14 season. It is the second time Michigan has beaten Notre Dame when they were the top-ranked team, with the first coming in 2009, also in South Bend, Indiana.
Michigan will conclude its Big Ten regular-season schedule on Sunday (Feb. 18) when the two teams play on the Red Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.