Notre Dame goaltender keys sweep of Michigan
team’s first game of the season, an exhibition contest against
Western Ontario, Notre Dame goalie David Brown paced nervously
between the bench and the locker room, fidgeting like a stool
pigeon asked to meet Tony Soprano down by the waterfront. He was
scheduled to play the second half of the match in relief of upperclassman
Rory Walsh and in the moments leading up to the game’s midway
point, the insects in his stomach had morphed from butterflies
In the second
game of a crucial series against conference leader Michigan Saturday,
Brown was the calmest player on the ice. He wasn’t fazed
by having to face four straight Wolverine power plays in the second
period. It didn’t bother him that during two of those man
advantages, the Irish penalty killers were caught on the ice for
the full two minutes. And he didn’t have a problem stopping
39 shots in Notre Dame’s 5-2 win to complete the team’s
first sweep against the Wolverines in 22 years.
were all over us,” Brown said. “I just wanted to stand
my ground and do what I could do.”
What he does
is make the first save and virtually eliminate the opportunity
for a second shot by either swallowing the puck or steering rebounds
away from pressure. Brown is so good at keeping second chances
to a minimum that Irish defenders can tie up opposing forwards
as they crash to the net so, on the rare occasions he allows a
fat rebound, a teammate can move in and clear the puck to safety.
style of play was a little different that what the defensemen
were used to,” said Brown, who likes to have clear shooting
lanes so he can play the shooter one-on-one. “We’ve
been compatible [with] smothering rebounds or controlling rebounds.
We’re meshing well, and it comes at the right time of the
year for us.”
Creek, Ont., native burst on the scene early in the season by
recording three straight shutout victories, a stretch that launched
a personal eight-game unbeaten streak. Brown’s hot start,
however, appeared to be somewhat of a fluke after he allowed 15
goals in three December starts, all Notre Dame losses (though
Brown would earn a no-decision in one of those contests). His
struggles – combined with the re-emergence of veteran Morgan
Cey after missing most of the first half of the year with a knee
problem – seemed to doom him to a diminished role after
the holiday break.
responded by allowing two or fewer goals in his last nine starts,
posting a 7-1-1 record during that span, the loss being a 1-0
decision against Northern Michigan. He enters this weekend’s
series at Lake Superior State unbeaten in his last six starts
and, with a 13-5-3 record, a 2.03 goals against average and a
.933 save percentage, Brown is making a strong case for a number
of CCHA honors, including Rookie of the Year and Best Goaltender.
nerves are still a big part of Brown’s game. He's making
opposing shooters feel agitated.
AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Montoya Mended – Michigan’s Al Montoya didn’t
practice until Wednesday, but after watching his starting goalie
skate prior to the team’s Tuesday workout, coach Red Berenson
declared him fit to play in the upcoming series against Michigan
fine," Berenson told the Ann Arbor News Tuesday.
"He's just a little tight. Hamstrings have to be stretched.
We want to warm him up…and stretch him and he should be
his hammy midway through the second period of the Wolverines’
4-1 loss at Notre Dame Friday. He stopped a shot by defenseman
Wes O’Neill, but the rebound caromed to Jason Paige waiting
on the other side of the goal mouth. Montoya sprawled in an unsuccessful
attempt to stop Paige’s shot and had to be helped off the
At the team’s
pre-game skate Saturday morning, Montoya tested the hamstring
and said he was ready to go. But the Michigan coaching staff felt
he wasn’t well enough to play that night and gave the nod
to back-up Noah Ruden, who made 11 saves in a 5-2 loss.
was a precaution,” Berenson said of his decision to keep
the sophomore out of the lineup. “I just want to make sure
to give him a chance to be 100 percent by [this] weekend.”
For All – Even
though every team in the CCHA other than Nebraska-Omaha is still
jockeying for playoff position for the upcoming conference tournament,
it’s hard not to look ahead to March 21, when the field
for the NCAA Tournament will be announced. That’s because
at this point in time, it looks as if three squads – Michigan
State, Notre Dame and Ohio State – will be battling for
the last two at-large spots.
lot can happen in the next two weeks. Assume, however, that all
three teams win their respective first-round series and advance
to the Super Six in Detroit. And assume that the favorites in
the other conference tournaments (especially Colgate in the ECAC)
capture the automatic bids that come with winning league playoff
championships. The scenario is a definite possibility. Here’s
what each member of the trio has in its favor – and working
against it – as the regular season draws to a close this
State: The Spartans, who play two games with Michigan
this weekend, will probably finish no lower than third in the
CCHA, ahead of both Ohio State and Notre Dame, and there’s
a remote possibility they could win the conference regular-season
title. They own the head-to-head advantage over the Irish, taking
three points from them in East Lansing in November; MSU split
the season series with Ohio State.
three glaring negatives on MSU’s ledger, however. One
is a schedule strength that is rated 22nd in the NCAA. Second
are home losses to Findlay and Wayne State, both of which cause
irreparable damage to the team’s ratings percentage index.
Finally, the Spartans’ dearth of quality wins against
non-conference opponents (one against Minnesota Duluth on the
season’s first weekend) won’t erase the sting of
the bad losses to CHA opponents.
Dame: With last weekend’s sweep of visiting Michigan,
the Fighting Irish improved their NCAA Tournament chances from
iffy to possible. A huge factor helping Notre Dame are restaurant-quality
wins – on the road, no less – against Boston College
and Wisconsin. They also beat Maine at the Everblades Classic
in December. Those are three victories against teams currently
in the top seven of the RPI rankings. And while it’s no
guarantee of future success, the Irish have the makeup of a
playoff team with a hot goaltender, a veteran defensive corps
and quality special teams play.
Notre Dame is that their 17 wins are fewer than all but one
team (Massachusetts) in the latest PairWise Rankings. Their
schedule strength, currently 19th in the nation, will take a
hit this weekend when the Irish close the season at Lake Superior
State: The Buckeyes, like Michigan State, can strengthen
their case for a postseason bid with a strong showing against
Miami this weekend. OSU only has one quality win, having defeated
Maine at the Everblades Classic, but they’ll benefit from
playing a schedule that registers as the nation’s seventh
Buckeyes’ biggest downfall may be their uneven play over
the last third of the season. They’re 8-6-0 in their last
14 games, although four of those defeats came against Michigan
and Michigan State, and now they face a RedHawks team that swept
them back in December. At 20-14-0, Ohio State has more losses
than all but one team currently residing in the RPI top 20. That
team? Michigan State.
State, Ohio State and Notre Dame finish the season in their current
positions – third, fourth and fifth, respectively –
and advance to the Super Six, it would set up a Buckeye-Fighting
Irish quarterfinal match, where the speculation would begin all
Great Weekend Getaway
vs. Michigan State at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit (Sat.): Depending
on the outcomes of Friday’s games, the CCHA regular
season championship race could be decided, but that won’t
suck any of the venom out of one of college hockey’s
top rivalries. Besides, with the NCAA Tournament picture
the way it is right now, wouldn’t the Wolverines love
to knock the Spartans off the bubble? And wouldn’t
MSU love to make it harder for Michigan to earn a No. 1
seed? Yes and yes.
you’re there: Ludacris and Chingy perform at the State
Theatre Sunday night. Roll out, indeed.
though he was a bit player for the last two years of his
college career, Notre Dame senior defenseman T.J.
Mathieson put up numbers that are impossible to
ignore. One of six Fighting Irish seniors honored at the
Joyce Center Saturday, Mathieson’s accomplishments
are as follows: an aerospace engineering major with a 3.81
grade point average, a seven-time Dean’s List honoree
at Notre Dame, one of five people to win the school’s
Rockne Student-Athlete Award more than once, a two-time
CCHA All-Academic team member and a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
“He’s clearly the best astronaut of the bunch,”
said coach Dave Poulin, referring to Mathieson’s career
Berenson was frustrated, and understandably so, following
his team’s losses at Notre Dame, but for the
Michigan coach to suggest that Fighting Irish goaltender David
Brown didn’t have to make a tough save over
the course of the weekend – which he told a group of
reporters Saturday – is absurd. If that was the case
(and it wasn’t) then may we infer that Berenson is damning
his team for failing to challenge Brown?
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White, in attendance
at Saturday’s game, indicated that facilities upgrades
for the Fighting Irish hockey team is part of his department’s
is very high on the priority list,” White said.
What he didn’t
say, however, is whether Notre Dame would build a new hockey arena
or refurbish the team’s current home, the Joyce Center.
White also gave no timetable for the start of any hockey-related
to White, the school plans $100 million in athletics facility
upgrades. Just over $21 million is committed toward the construction
of the Guglielmino Family Athletics Center, a 96,000-square-foot
building that will house, among other things, football locker
rooms, offices and meeting rooms. Work on that project, the first
on the list, began last fall. The athletic department building
plan includes improvements for each of the school’s varsity
NCAA has yet to make a decision on a request from a handful of
coaches to modify its NHL Entry Draft opt-in rule, but the
proposal was “received favorably” according
to Poulin, who spearheaded the effort.
enacted in 1995, requires prospects born between Sept. 16, 1985,
and Sept. 15, 1986 to declare their intentions by May 1 in order
to enter the pool for the upcoming National Hockey League Entry
Draft. College players who opt in forfeit the remainder of their
that the NCAA has not set a timetable for a decision on the matter.
An NCAA Management Council sub-committee can change the measure
on a short-term basis. Any long-term change to the policy would
have to follow the organization’s standard legislative procedures.
Carlson Center will be jumping next weekend as Alaska-Fairbanks
ensured a first-round league playoff series at home after
splitting with Nebraska-Omaha last weekend. It’s the second
time the Nanooks have hosted a CCHA playoff series; the first
occurred two years ago when UAF ousted Ferris State and made its
inaugural trip to Detroit for the CCHA Super Six.
we came [to Omaha] our goal was to get enough points so we can
host the playoffs,” Nanooks coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It
just so happens that two points was enough.”
fans are a vociferous group and the Carlson Center is one of two
CCHA facilities that house the larger Olympic-size ice sheet.
The real killer for opponents, however, is the journey across
four time zones.
beating Alaska-Fairbanks Saturday, Nebraska-Omaha snapped an 11-game
winless streak that dated back to Jan. 8, when the Mavericks topped
Ferris State at the Qwest Center. Not only that, but Dan Hacker’s
goal a little more than five minutes into the game ended
UNO’s school-record scoreless drought at 211:46.
The Mavericks hadn’t scored a goal since Valentine’s
Day, when freshman Scott Parse tallied 4:05 into the second period
of a 4-3 loss at Ohio State.
was a bad feeling, leaving here and not scoring a goal,"
freshman forward Kaleb Betts told Lee Barfknect of the Omaha World-Herald.
"We get 8,000 fans and they come here to watch us score goals
and have a good time. Hearing the crowd having a good time…was
fun for everyone."
sure to read Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Tim Warsinskey’s
recent article about former
Miami standout Todd Harkins. Harkins, whose 11-year
professional career included brief stints with Calgary and Hartford,
appears as Soviet forward Valeri Kharlamov in “Miracle”.
The feature also discusses Harkins’ eight-year-old son Niklas,
who has a rare genetic disease called Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS)
and how the film’s cast and crew helped raise money and
awareness for Canada’s MPS Society.
Green has proven to be a formidable opponent this season with
wins against Miami, Michigan State and Notre Dame and ties with
Colgate and Cornell, the top two teams in the ECAC. How close
were the Falcons to climbing even higher in the CCHA standings?
Obscure Bowling Green Note of the Week: Scott
Paluch’s team has played a school-record 11 overtime games
this season. The Falcons are 1-1-9 in those contests. Five of
the ties came in league play, including a pair of scoreless draws
against Lake Superior State. If BGSU had won three of their five
ties in the CCHA, they’d be playing for seventh place in
the conference against Western Michigan Thursday.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.
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