SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame’s record — now 13-10-3
in the CCHA and 17-11-4 overall — may not stand out, but its
sweep of Michigan was hardly a fluke. All season long the Fighting
Irish played their best against the nation’s top teams.

The Irish have already won at No. 1 Boston College and pulled
out a win and a tie at No. 6 Wisconsin. Both of these teams have
beaten the Wolverines.

This weekend, Notre Dame was ready to make one more statement
against college hockey’s elite.

“We talk about every weekend being the exact same —
every game is worth two points — but there are usually points
where you can look back and say that’s where we took the next
step,” Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin said.

“I think this was a very, very big weekend — not
only in the micro look at it but the macro look at it as
well.”

It has been the defense and goaltending that has led the
Irish’s emergence. Notre Dame’s defensemen have been
stellar all year, and this weekend was no exception. Entering the
series, the Irish had killed their opponents’ last 33
powerplay opportunities.

Michigan’s two units got plenty of chances, but they
struggled to get quality shots and could score on just one of 11
powerplays. On two separate chances Saturday, the Irish were unable
to make a line change for an entire penalty kill, but they managed
to keep the puck out of the net on both occasions.

“Our penalty kill has been real good all year,”
goaltender David Brown said. “We really stay disciplined and
don’t get caught scrambling too much.

“The defense was able to let me to see the puck, and they
also blocked a lot of shots and took care of the
rebounds.”

And anything the defensemen weren’t able to handle, Brown
could.

The freshman leads the CCHA with a 2.03 goals against average
and a .933 save percentage.

Brown was at his best Saturday, and he needed to be. Notre Dame
was expecting a Michigan onslaught after the Wolverines’
lackluster effort Friday, and that’s exactly what happened.
The Irish were outshot 12-3 and 18-5 in the first two periods, but
came away from each period with a one-goal lead.

“Especially after last night, we thought they were going
to be mad about the loss and come out with a lot more
intensity,” said forward Rob Globke, who clinched
Saturday’s win with a powerplay goal early in the third
period.

“We thought the first t10 minutes were going to be
important. As long as they didn’t have a great start, we
liked our chances.”

The weekend’s series with the Wolverines was huge for all
the Irish, but especially Brown.

“I was really looking forward to playing Michigan,”
said Brown, who stopped 62 of 65 shots. “A lot of people were
comparing my season to Montoya’s (freshman) season last year,
so I really wanted to establish myself. For the team, this weekend
was huge, and to have a good week personally, this was icing on the
cake.”

Notes: Before last weekend, Michigan had not lost consecutive
games to the Fighting Irish since Red Berenson took over coaching
duties in the 1981-1982 season … The Wolverines followed up
January’s torrid defense (a total of five goals allowed) by
giving up an average of 3.25 goals per game in the month of
February … After Saturday’s game, sophomore goaltender Noah
Ruden is now 1-2 in his Michigan career.

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