Karl Henkel/At the CCHA Championship
DETROIT -- After getting off to a rough start, Northern Michigan hung with top-ranked Notre Dame the remainder of the game until it scored with just over a minute to play.
But it was the Irish who scored again 23 seconds later, avenging a loss to NMU in last year’s CCHA Championship and coming out victorious, 2-1.
ND will now face the winner of the Michigan/Alaska-Fairbanks game tomorrow night.
“I though it was pretty much the kind of game we needed to play to get a win,” Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said. "Notre Dame got off to an impeccable start, getting three power play chances in the opening handful of minutes.
But Northern Michigan weathered the storm, allowing just one goal to Kyle Lawson while it was down a man.
Even after the power plays, however, the Irish continued to carry the play, outshooting NMU 15-6 in the opening 20 minutes.
For the rest of the game there wasn’t much action, and it wasn’t until the 18:37 mark of the third period that the next puck found the back of the net.
Nick Sirota scored for NMU after goaltender Brian Stewart, who made 34 saves, vacated the net for an extra skater.
But just 23 seconds later, it was Notre Dame (30-5-3, 21-4-3-3 CCHA) who once again showed why it’s the best team in the CCHA as Ben Ryan poked home a rebound for a 2-1 lead.
“Our biggest strength is our experience,” said Lawson, who recalled last season’s overtime loss to Miami in which the Irish gave up a last-minute goal. “When they popped that goal in it was just one of those things where we were able to bounce back real quick.”
It was the fifth time ND beat NMU this season, something Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson called “almost impossible” to accomplish.
Jordan Pearce made 21 saves for the Irish, who also went 1-for-5 with the man advantage. Northern Michigan (18-17-5, 11-12-5-3 CCHA) was 0-for-3.