SOUTH BEND — With seven minutes left in the third period, a pack of about 50 Notre Dame students poured out from the bleachers during a long television timeout. Notre Dame was trailing by eight goals, and the students had seen enough. After a weekend in which Urban Meyer chose to coach Florida football over Notre Dame and Brent Petway swatted away the Irish’s undefeated basketball season, the Michigan hockey team may have sent the Notre Dame faithful over the edge. No. 5 Michigan throttled Notre Dame 8-0 on Saturday night at the Joyce Center just a day after it beat the Irish 6-1 at Yost Ice Arena, outperforming Notre Dame in every aspect.
“In no way can we let our forwards or defensemen off the hook here,” said Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin after Saturday’s game. “There are 20 guys in that lockerroom and everyone’s responsible. Every single person.”
The Wolverines (9-1-0 CCHA, 11-4-1 overall) played a prominent role in the lopsided affair as well. Freshman Kevin Porter and junior Jeff Tambellini each scored twice, and junior goalie Al Montoya made 16 saves for his second shutout of the season.
The Michigan defense stifled the Irish offense, limiting it to few scoring chances.
“I thought our team probably had its best game of the season in terms of offense, defense, power play, penalty killing and so on,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I don’t think it’s fair to say that we’re that much better, if any better, than they are. This weekend, we were.”
The Irish (2-7-3, 3-8-4) had just returned from a road trip to Alaska last weekend, which may have influenced their sluggish play.
“We’ll play them again down the road, and we’ll see how the teams match up later,” Berenson said. “But I just attribute the differential in the weekend to the Alaska trip.”
Sophomore T.J. Hensick put Michigan on the board just two minutes into play when he put back a rebound goal. Two minutes later, freshman Chad Kolarik scored the first of Michigan’s five power play goals on the night when he slapped a one-timer off of Notre Dame goalie Morgan Cey’s pad and into the net.
“(Our power play) was much better,” Berenson said. “Obviously, we were moving the puck, and we got our chances. And we buried our chances.”
The penalty kill also thrived over the weekend, holding the Irish to just one power play goal in 19 chances. Sophomore Jason Dest led the defensive effort by leveling two mammoth hits on Irish skaters.
Midway through the second period, Notre Dame defender Brock Sheahan skated towards the Michigan goal with a clear path to the goal from left side. Dest raced back and caught up to Sheahan just before he tried to shoot. Dest lowered his shoulder and laid into Sheahan, sending him sliding into the boards. When play was stopped a second later, Sheahan had to be helped to his feet by two of his teammates.
“Coach always tells me that when I’m playing good is when I’m hitting,” Dest said. “So this weekend, I really tried to concentrate on playing physical and stuff like that. I don’t put up too many points, so I have to do something else to make up for it.”
The Wolverines pushed their lead to 3-0 in the first period when senior Eric Werner put back a David Moss rebound, and Porter stretched the lead to four when he took a pass from Hensick in front of the net and buried it past Irish replacement goalie David Brown.
The only part of the weekend that did not go as planned was the start of Friday’s game. Michigan was sloppy at the outset of the contest. It committed turnovers and had trouble stringing more than one pass together at a time.
“In the first period, it seemed like we weren’t playing our game,” junior Brandon Kaleniecki said. “They were doing a good job of slowing the game down and we weren’t moving our feet.”
But the Wolverines — as they have become accustomed to — picked up their play at Yost Ice Arena. Kaleniecki took a pass from senior Milan Gajic from behind the net and scored to give Michigan a 3-1 lead.
“It always motivates when you get to play in front of a home crowd,” Kaleniecki said. “Once you get something going there, you just take off. Every time we play at home, when we get something going, they’re amazing.”
With the win, Michigan pushed its record to 6-0-1 at Yost this season.
Michigan’s pair of wins avenged a sweep at the hands of Irish last season at the Joyce Center. Friday’s win also snapped Michigan’s two game losing streak.
“It feels great, definitely,” Kolarik said. “Not just that we won 8-0 (Saturday), but that we swept. We only let up one goal all weekend, so it was great for us coming off a bad weekend.”