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November 16, 2012

Michigan falls 4-1 to Notre Dame, swept at home

For the second consecutive night, Michigan was tied 1-1 midway through the third period, and for the second straight night the Wolverines couldn't bury their chances while a costly mistake ended up in the back of their own net as Notre Dame swept the Maize and Blue with a 4-1 win.

"I thought our team came out with renewed energy," head coach Red Berenson began, summing up the night. "They felt bad about last night's game and wanted to make up for it. We just couldn't do it. We couldn't get the offense going and it was a defensive battle.

"It's a 1-1 game again with six minutes left in the third when they scored the game-winning goal. We had chances to score and didn't score.

"I don't want to lament offense but we just have to be tighter defensively. A week ago we were the No. 1 offensive team in the country worried about defense, and now we're worried about both. Nevertheless, I thought our goalie was good. We played hard. We played well but they were the better team."

Michigan managed a measly four shots on net in the first period, and coupled with last night's three-shot third period, had just seven total looks at the net in their previous 40 minutes. The Irish, known as a great defensive team under coach Jeff Jackson, stepped into passing lanes and interrupted everything the Wolverines wanted to do offensively.

It didn't help that U-M lacked chemistry on its lines, looking out of sorts. Simply, the Maize and Blue tried to make too many plays on their own, and that individualistic approach stymied the offense consistently all night.

"It all comes back to the simple things, hard work," senior alternate captain Kevin Lynch said. "We have to get back to it this week. We can't be too cute or making the pretty play. We just need to make hard-nosed plays."

ND took a 1-0 lead when defenseman Robbie Russo beat U-M goalie Steve Racine with a wrist shot from the point at 11:41.

Over the next 20 minutes, Michigan skated like a desperate team, but that desperation wasn't leading to quality scoring chances. The Wolverines needed something, anything, to grab some momentum and freshman defender Jacob Trouba provided it when he blasted a shot from the right faceoff circle into the back of the net.

That tally at 13:12 of the second seemed to offer a collective sigh of relief to the Wolverines and the Yost Crowd, and U-M responded with some of its best skating of the weekend.

With less than two minutes remaining in the second frame, sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe appeared to give Michigan the lead but his backhand shot clanked off the near post and then off the far post without crossing the goal line.

Notre Dame would take advantage of a U-M turnover late in the third, pouncing on senior defenseman Lee Moffie's giveaway behind the net, and with a one-touch pass to Jeff Costello the puck was sailing past Racine at 11:03.

"It's a game of mistakes and we made a mistake on that go-ahead goal," Berenson said.

The Fighting Irish would add a third marker at 13:30, and the heads on the Michigan benched dropped. The Wolverines were done, sending the fans to the exits.

"You lost two games at home and you just can't do that," Berenson said.

Michigan had invited its former players back to Yost for a rededication ceremony following a massive renovation this offseason. More than 50 alumni returned for the event but the game they saw looked unfamiliar to them. The Wolverines have always been a formidable team at home, but just 1-5-1 overall in their last seven games, they are fighting for confidence, and more importantly, victories.

"I think were struggling to find a full team effort," Lynch said. "Half the guys are playing well and half aren't.

"We need to find it, and we need to find it right now before it's midway through the season."



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