SOUTH BEND — Following the Michigan hockey team’s
embarrassing 4-1 loss to Notre Dame on Friday, alternate captain
Eric Nystrom described the team’s efforts bluntly.

Mira Levitan
T.J. Hensick and the Wolverines outshot Notre Dame 41-16 on Saturday, but still lost by three goals. (TONY DING/Daily)

“We’ve got to be men out there,” Nystrom said.
“We weren’t men tonight. We were getting knocked all
over the place, and we need to come a little more mentally tough
and ready to play a physical game (tomorrow).”

The Wolverines (18-7-1 CCHA, 23-10-1 overall) seemed to have a
tougher attitude on Saturday, but the result of the contest
remained the same as the previous night. Notre Dame (13-10-3,
17-11-4) won 5-2 and swept the weekend series behind a strong
performance by freshman goaltender David Brown, who stopped 39 of
Michigan’s 41 shots.

The pair of losses means that Michigan’s quest for the
CCHA regular season title will have to include a victory over
arch-rival Michigan State next weekend. The Wolverines, who
currently sit in first place in the CCHA, lead second-place Miami
by two points.

After being dominated for much of the first two periods on
Saturday, the Fighting Irish blew Michigan out of the water near
the end of the second period. Notre Dame scored two goals in a
17-second span, giving it a 3-2 lead that would never be
relinquished.

At the 15:43 mark of the period, Notre Dame forward Neil
Komadoski fired a shot from just inside the blueline at Michigan
goalie Noah Ruden, who was screened on the play and could not get
to the the puck in time. Ruden was playing in place of normal
starter Al Montoya, who was injured when he slipped trying to
handle a puck during Friday’s game.

“That goal from the point — it was just a
backbreaker,” Ruden said. “We were dominating. If you
give up a goal like that, they get some life, and before you know
it, you’re looking up instead of looking down.”

The Irish struck again before the public-address announcer was
done noting Komadoski’s goal. Sophomore forward Matt Amado
slashed to the net and was not picked up by the Michigan defense.
Amado received a pass from senior Tom Galvin and punched it into
the net.

Michigan’s collapse in the latter portion of the game was
preceded by nearly 36 minutes of dominating play.

The Wolverines, who spent much of the first period camped out in
the Notre Dame zone, capitalized on their first opportunity of the
second period. With only 20 seconds gone in the second stanza,
Michigan forwards Jeff Tambellini and Dwight Helminen skated into
the Notre Dame zone on a 2-on-1 break. Helminen fed the puck to
Tambellini, who then flipped it over Brown’s right shoulder
to tie the game at one.

Tambellini’s goal seemed to ignite a flame in the
Wolverines, who continued to press hard. They were rewarded for
their efforts nearly two minutes later when junior forward Jason
Ryznar grabbed a loose puck from the left corner of the Notre Dame
zone and pulled a quick 180 to position himself in front of the
net. He then punched the puck at the goal, where it was initially
stopped by Brown. But the goalie lost sight of the puck because of
a mass pile-up in front of the net, and junior center Andrew Ebbett
finally muscled it into the net.

“They came at us and really played it tough,” Notre
Dame coach Dave Poulin said. “They got us out of our game in
the second period and got the two goals.”

After the Wolverines’ second goal, Poulin took a timeout
to regroup. The Wolverines did not let up at all, in spite of the
time stoppage. On one powerplay following the timeout, Michigan
fired shot after shot on Brown making the Joyce Center seem like a
shooting range. Remarkably, Brown held strong and kept the puck out
of the net for the remainder of the period.

The game was put out of reach a little over seven minutes into
the third period. Notre Dame freshman forward Jason Paige shot the
puck into traffic in front of the Michigan net. Senior Rob Globke
got a stick on the puck and redirected it past Ruden, making the
score 4-2. The Fighting Irish added an empty-netter with 2:35
remaining.

Berenson noted that the weekend may not have been a complete
disaster.

“I think it’s a wakeup call for our team,”
Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “If they’re going to
have a good season from here on in, they really have to take heart
at what we’re trying to do together and not just look at our
statistics and say what we’ve done is good enough.”

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