Huskies 'out-grit' Irish hockey

Tech rallies for series split

Steve Lowe
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame lacked the necessary grit Saturday night, and its five-game win streak is over as a result.

Alex Smith had a goal and an assist for Michigan Tech, which outshot and outmuscled the Irish in a 4-2 win to salvage a weekend split.

The Huskies (14-9-3) led in shots on goal, 34-25, and didn't allow the Irish (12-7-2) much of anything in front of freshman goaltender Angus Redmond, who leads the country in goals-against average at 1.37.

"I just thought they out-gritted us, especially at both nets," said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. "We weren't getting the chances at their net and they were getting a number of chances around our goal. That was the difference in the game for me."

In Friday's 3-1 win over Michigan Tech, Cal Petersen's shutout streak ended at 207:10, the second longest stretch in Irish history. During ND's five-game streak, Petersen had a 0.60 goals-against and .975 save percentage.

But Redmond was better Saturday night, and Michigan Tech returns to WCHA play next week with some much-needed momentum.

"We played better, for sure," said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. "We played harder, a little more determined, stronger on the puck, and stronger without it, too. Last night, I didn't like our compete level."

For the fourth straight game, the Irish grabbed the lead first when Bobby Nardella's power play shot from above the circles deflected in off Michigan Tech defenseman Dane Birks' stick, nine minutes into the first period.

But the Irish couldn't carry their level of play past the first 20 minutes.

"We dropped off after the first period," Jackson said. "I can't necessarily explain why."

Michigan Tech took the lead in the second period on goals by Jake Jackson and Gavin Gould while outshooting the Irish 12-5, but Notre Dame managed to head to the third period tied 2-2 after Cam Morrison slipped one in under Redmond.

But in the third period, despite outshooting Tech 11-10, the Irish got few grade-A chances and failed to convert a power play with just over four minutes left. Jackson blamed the lack of traffic in front of Redmond.

"It's not the ham-and-egg guys, it's our skill guys," Jackson said. "They have to be willing to try to generate more inside the dots offensively."

Michael Neville's goal from the right circle 4:23 into the third period was the eventual game-winner, making it 3-2 Michigan Tech, and Smith killed Notre Dame's chances at a comeback by scoring with 2:26 left for the final margin.

"They were determined tonight; they're a very good team," Jackson said. "It was a tough weekend. It's gritty, tough hockey, but we need to play those types of games against those types of teams."

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Bobby Nardella, 5 (Andrew Oglevie, Andrew Peeke) PP, 11:56. Shots on goal: MTU 12, ND 9; Penalties: ND 2-4, MTU 2-4.

SECOND PERIOD

MTU - Jake Jackson, 5 (Alex Smith) 2:04; MTU - Gavin Gould, 4 (Jake Lucchini, Shane Hanna) 9:28; ND - Cam Morrison, 6 (Jake Evans, Peeke) 9:28. Shots: MTU 12, ND 5; Penalties: ND 2-4, MTU 1-2.

THIRD PERIOD

MTU - Michael Neville, 5 (Matt Roy) 4:23; MTU - Smith, 4 (Reid Sturos, Cliff Watson) 17:34. Shots: ND 11, MTU 10; Penalties: ND 1-2, MTU 1-2.

Mich. Tech 0 2 2 — 4

ND 1 1 0 — 2

Shots: MTU 34, ND 25; Saves: ND 30 (Cal Petersen), MTU 23 (Angus Redmond); Power plays: ND 1-3, MTU 0-4; Penalties: ND 5-10, MTU 4-8; Attendance: 4,741.

Notre Dame’s Andrew Peeke (22) tries to block Boston College’s Colin White (18) shooting while Matthew Gaudreau (21) waits for a pass and Notre Dame’s Cal Petersen (40) ready for a save during the Boston College at Notre Dame hockey game in Compton Family Ice Arena Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA