Jan. 13, 2007
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Notre Dame got just one shot in overtime, but Erik Condra made it count. The sophomore right wing picked up a loose puck in the Notre Dame zone and carried it over the Lake Superior blueline, snapping a wrist shot that beat Laker goaltender Jeff Jakaitis inside the left post at 3:24 to give the Irish a 4-3 win in overtime.
The win was the first overtime victory for the Irish since Dec. 10, 2004 when they downed Michigan State, 3-2. Notre Dame is now 1-1-1 in extra play this season.
The victory improved fifth-ranked Notre Dame to 18-4-1 overall and 12-2-1 in the CCHA. The 15th-ranked Lakers fall to 13-7-3 on the year and 7-5-3 in conference play.
“Wes (O’Neill) blocked a shot and the puck just came to me,” said Condra following the game. “I carried it down and took the defense wide. (Ryan) Thang was going to the net and that made it easy for me. I think their goalie thought I was passing, but I took the shot and it beat him to the short side.”
The Irish also got goals from Evan Rankin, Ryan Thang and Jason Paige in regulation while the Lakers came back from three one-goal deficits on markers by Nik Sellers, Barnabas Birkeland and Dan Eves in the game.
The win was a big one for the Irish as they looked to get back on track after a tough, 4-2 loss at home last Sunday to Robert Morris.
“This was a character win for this team,” said head coach Jeff Jackson. “We were looking for a strong effort after last Sunday and we got off to a strong start tonight. We answered back each time Lake Superior scored and then got the big goal in overtime. This team didn’t quit battling even after some tough goals against on bounces and deflections.”
Notre Dame controlled play in the first period as the Irish outshot Lake Superior by a 12-2 margin and scored the lone goal of the opening period at 5:31 of the opening stanza. Strong forechecking by Justin White and Rankin helped set up the goal.
White out battled the Lake Superior defense for a loose puck behind the goal and fed it to defenseman Kyle Lawson at the top of the right wing circle. Lawson’s low wrist shot was stopped by Laker goaltender Jeff Jakaitis but Rankin was camped on the right post and tucked the rebound in for his third goal of the season.
The action evened out in the second period with each team scoring twice. The Lakers tied the game at 1-1 just 3:58 into the middle stanza. The Irish got caught in the Laker zone and center Nik Sellers led a three-on-one break into the Notre Dame zone. His cross-ice pass went off of defenseman Brock Sheahan’s skate and deflected past David Brown for Sellers third goal of the season.
The Irish would get that goal back with Sheahan making a nice play to keep the puck in the Laker zone at the left point. His shot was wide of the goal but Kevin Deeth was able to control it and find Thang at the bottom of the right wing circle. Thang one-timed a shot high over Jakaitis’ glove and just under the cross bar at 10:27 for his 12th goal of the season to give the Irish a 2-1 lead.
The Lakers evened the score at 2-2 at the 13:29 mark with a power-play tally. Defenseman Barnabas Birkeland fired a shot from the right point that found its way through traffic in front, deflecting off the goal post and in for his fourth goal of the season.
Again the Irish would answer, retaking the lead off a bang-bang play to the left of Jakaitis. Garrett Regan took a pass from Noah Babin at the Laker blueline and carried it around the goal. His spinning shot at the goal was batted out of the air by Paige over Jakaitis’ right shoulder at 16:51. For Paige, it was his eighth of the season and Notre Dame led 3-2 at the second intermission.
Lake Superior got its third game-tying goal of the night just 57 seconds into the third period when Eves steered a pass from Derek A. Smith past Brown for his fifth goal of the season.
In overtime, the Lakers got two quality chances on Brown before Condra made the most of his one scoring chance. In the game, Notre Dame out shot the Lakers by a 29-24 margin. Brown finished with 21 saves in picking up his 17th win of the season. Jakaitis made 25 saves for Lake Superior.
The two teams will get together for game two of the series on Saturday night at Taffy Abel Arena. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
** Friday night’s game marked the return of Jeff Jackson to Lake Superior State as the coach of the Irish. He served as an assistant coach, head coach and athletics director for the Lakers from 1987 to 1996 and guided them to three consecutive trips to the NCAA finals, winning twice in 1992 and 1994.
** Since their last win in overtime, Dec. 10, 2004, Notre Dame was 0-4-7 in overtime games.
** The Lakers came into the weekend series ranked 15th in both national polls. The Notre Dame win gives the Irish a 7-1-0 record in games versus teams ranked in the top 15. They are 2-1-0 versus ranked teams on the road.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 OT - FNotre Dame (18-4-1/12-2-1) 1 2 0 1 - 4Lake Superior (13-7-3/7-5-3) 0 2 1 0 - 3
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; LSSU: 2 for 4 minutes.
Second Period: LSSU: Nik Sellers 3 (unassisted); 3:58; ND: Ryan Thang 12 (Kevin Deeth, Brock Sheahan), 10:27; LSSU: Barnabas Birkeland 4 (Nathan Perkovich, Jeff Rainville), PPG, 14:39; ND: Jason Paige 8 (Garrett Regan, Noah Babin), 16:51.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; LSSU: 0 for 0 minutes.
Third Period: LSSU: Dan Eves 5 (Derek A. Smith, Ryan Baird), 00:57.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; LSSU: 3 for 9 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; LSSU: 0 for 0 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 12 - 6 - 10 - 1 - 29Lake Superior 2 - 9 - 11 - 2 - 24
Goaltender Saves:ND - David Brown (63:17) 2 - 7 - 10 - 2 - 21LSSU - Jeff Jakaitis (63:24) 11 - 4 - 10 - 0 - 25
ND: 0 for 4
LSSU: 1 for 6