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With characteristically porous defense, Wolverines swept away by Fighting Irish

By Matt Slovin, Managing Editor
Published February 9, 2013

SOUTH BEND — As they have all season, the goals against the Michigan hockey team came in droves Saturday night.

And just like the entire year, the offense lacked the firepower to make up for the poor defense and goaltending that continue to plague the Wolverines. They lost 6-4 to close a weekend sweep during which they were outscored 13-8.

“It was another tough weekend,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I don't know what to tell you.

“I liked our team tonight; I thought we hung in there. We got behind too easily with the goals against. They were just not good enough goals to give up, but the team hung in there and stayed in the game."

The opening half of Saturday’s first period was marred by missed opportunities on the power play for both teams.

First, with Michigan (7-15-2 CCHA, 10-18-2 overall) on the night’s first power play, senior forward Kevin Lynch skated through the slot all alone, only to be stoned by goalie Steve Summerhays. After Notre Dame (14-7-1-1, 18-11-1) took a turn on the power play minutes later, a Fighting Irish 2-on-1 ended in a whiff on a wide-open net.

But Notre Dame would still draw first blood at the 12:10 mark of the first period. Forward Jeff Costello lowered his shoulder and drove through the left circle, firing a shot that trickled through Michigan goalie Jared Rutledge’s five-hole. Rutledge started for the fourth-straight game despite allowing six goals Friday night in the Wolverines’ defeat.

The period ended with the Wolverines shorthanded, and sophomore forward Andrew Sinelli failing to turn a bouncing puck into an equalizer.

Notre Dame’s power play was given another chance in the second period when Sinelli was whistled for cross-checking. Thirty-eight seconds later, it became a two-man advantage for the Fighting Irish as junior forward Derek DeBlois went off for roughing. The Michigan penalty kill held its ground for nearly the duration, but with about 20 seconds left on the last man advantage, forward Anders Lee scored his third goal of the weekend after a fortunate bounce to his stick in the crease.

After killing off yet another penalty, it was the Wolverine power-play unit that had the next opportunity as the two teams spent much of the second period away from even strength. Sophomore forward Alex Guptill cut the Notre Dame lead in half by shooting over Summerhays’ pad-side shoulder.

But, just as they did Friday night, the Fighting Irish responded with two quick tallies. Lee chased down a loose puck before sailing it across the crease to Bryan Rust, brother of former Wolverine Matt Rust, who finished past Rutledge. One minute and 37 seconds later, Peter Schneider connected on a pass from behind the goal line to extend the lead to three goals.

With the middle frame winding down, Lynch was turned away by Summerhays, but sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe caught up to the rebound before the goalie could respond, and Michigan entered the second intermission trailing 4-2.

Notre Dame added two more in a quick span to start the third period, as well. Just 47 seconds into the frame, Austin Wuthrich extended it to a 5-2 Fighting Irish lead. Junior goalie Adam Janecyk came in for mop-up work, only to surrender another goal almost instantly.

The Wolverines got one back on the power play as Kevin Lynch scored his sixth of the season despite some contact to Summerhays. After a lengthy video review, the goal was called clean.

With three minutes remaining in the game, junior defenseman Mac Bennett, playing in his first weekend back from injury, drove straight from center ice to the slot and sniped one to make it a two-goal game. That would be as close as Michigan would come, though.

"I think physically, I feel 100 percent," Bennett said. "I think mentally, I am not there yet. It's tough when you have a month off and then you jump back in, especially when you are playing a team like Notre Dame. Physically I am fine, but it is going to take a game or two to get my head back to where it was."

The 13 combined goals the Wolverines gave up were the most they’ve allowed in a weekend all year — the previous high for a series was nine against Alaska.