Dec. 4, 2006
Notre Dame, Ind. –
What a difference 20 minutes can make. The fifth-ranked Notre Dame hockey team found out on Sunday night as they followed a sluggish first period with a five-goal explosion in the second period on the way to a 6-2 win and a series sweep versus Alaska at the Joyce Center.
Junior forward Mark Van Guilder led the way with two goals while Evan Rankin, Ryan Thang, Kyle Lawson and Jason Paige added single goals in the win. Six different Notre Dame players recorded two-point games in the victory. Kyle Greentree and Brandon Knelsen scored for the Nanooks.
The win gave the Irish a sweep of the 14th-ranked Nanooks and was the first sweep of a nationally ranked team by Notre Dame since sweeping fourth-ranked Michigan, Feb. 27-28, 2004.
The Irish are now 12-3-1 overall and 7-2-1 in the CCHA while Alaska falls to 6-4-4 on the season and 4-3-3 in conference action.
The going was slow early in the game as the teams combined for just 12 shots over the first 20 minutes. Van Guilder started the scoring with his first goal of the game at 12:13 of the first period when he fired a wrist shot from the bottom of the right wing circle past Nanook goaltender Chad Johnson for his 10th goal of the season.
Greentree knotted the score at 1-1 less than three minutes later at 14:50 when he beat Irish netminder David Brown from in front for his team-best 12th goal of the season.
“We weren’t happy with the way we played in the first period,” said Van Guilder. “They (Alaska) dictated the tempo quite a bit and slowed the game down a lot. That’s not what we wanted. Coach got in our ear a little bit between periods and we started to pick up the tempo, move our feet and started creating more off the rush and off the cycle.”
Coach Jeff Jackson’s pep talk worked as Notre Dame scored early and often in the middle period. Junior Evan Rankin, playing in his first game since Nov. 10, jump-started the Irish with his first goal of the season as he carried behind the Alaska net and was able to tuck a wrap-around shot inside the right post and Johnson’s pad at 2:30.
“Evan (Rankin) was extremely good tonight,” said Jackson. “He brings us energy. Evan hasn’t played because other guys have played well and helped in different ways. He got his chance because he’s been working so hard in practice and he took advantage of it. I have three other forwards who were sitting in the stands tonight who could probably play too. It really makes it tough on the coaches.”
Rankin’s goal sent Johnson to the bench with Wylie Rogers taking over between the pipes. The Irish proved to be rude hosts as they scored three times on Rogers over a 4:46 span.
“That’s a tough spot for a goalie to come into especially when the momentum is going the other way,” said Jackson. “It’s never easy for a goaltender. We saw how good he was last March in the playoffs.”
Thang scored his eighth of the season at 4:27 off passes from Kevin Deeth and Lawson to make it 3-1. The goal was Thang’s fourth game-winning goal of the season.
Lawson built the lead to 4-1 with his first collegiate goal and second point of the night when his shot from the right point beat Rogers high to his glove side and just under the cross bar at 8:15.
Less than a minute later, at 9:13, Van Guilder notched his second of the night and 11th of the season when he took a drop pass from Noah Babin and ripped a shot past Rogers from the right circle to make it 5-1 and send Rogers back to the bench in favor of Johnson.
The Nanooks were able to stop the Notre Dame onslaught if for a brief moment, cutting the lead to 5-2 at 16:18 with a power-play goal off the stick of Brandon Knelsen, his first of the season.
The Irish didn’t give Alaska much time to celebrate as Paige drilled a shot through Johnson’s pads just nine seconds later at 16:27 for his sixth of the season and a 6-2 Irish lead.
Notre Dame fired a season-high 19 shots on the Alaska goal in the second period on the way to 33 shots in the game. Johnson finished with 23 saves while giving up three goals in 53:17. Rogers, who got the loss, gave up three goals in a 6:43 span while making four saves.
Brown was his usual steady self for the Irish, making 17 saves in picking up his 11th win of the season.
The Irish now prepare for another weekend series against a nationally ranked team as they face sixth-ranked Michigan in a home-and-home series on Dec. 8 and 10. On Friday night, Notre Dame faces the Wolverines at Yost Arena in a 7:35 p.m. game. On Sunday, the two teams meet at the Joyce Center in a 3:05 p.m. contest.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FAlaska (6-4-4/4-3-3) 1 1 0 - 2Notre Dame (12-3-1/7-2-1) 1 5 0 - 6
Penalties: Alaska: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Second Period: ND: Evan Rankin 1 (Jason Paige, Christiaan Minella), 2:30; ND: Ryan Thang 8 (Kevin Deeth, Kyle Lawson), 4:27; ND: Lawson 1 (Josh Sciba, T.J. Jindra), 8:15; ND: Van Guilder 11 (Babin, Regan), 9:13; Alaska: Brandon Knelsen 1 (Greentree), 16:18; ND: Paige 6 (Minella, Brett Blatchford), 16:27.
Penalties: Alaska: 2 for 4 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Third Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: Alaska: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Alaska 5 - 6 - 8 - 19Notre Dame 7 - 19 - 7 - 33
Goaltender Saves:Alaska - Chad Johnson (53:17) 6 - 10 - 7 - 23 Wylie Rogers (6:43) x - 4 - x - 4ND - David Brown (60:00) 4 - 5 - 8 - 17
Power Plays:Alaska: 1 for 5ND: 0 for 4