Jan. 10, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – For the second night in a row, Notre Dame and Alaska battled to a 0-0 tie over the first 40 minutes of play. And, for the second night in a row, the Irish offense broke through in the third period, this time scoring three, third-period goals to take a 3-0 win from the Nanooks in front of a sold-out Joyce Center.
Christian Hanson snapped the scoreless tie at 5:53 of the third period and was followed by goals from Ben Ryan and Ryan Thang while goaltender Jordan Pearce made 22 saves to record his second consecutive shutout, leading Notre Dame to the 3-0 victory. Pearce has not given up a goal in the last 161:30 since Jan. 3.
The win improves the top-ranked Irish an eight-game winning streak since Nov. 29 and extended the school-record unbeaten streak to 18 games (16-0-2). Notre Dame is now 18-3-2 overall and 12-2-2-2 in CCHA play, good for 28 points and a five-point lead over second-place Miami. The Irish are now seven points in front of third-place Alaska as the Nanooks go to 10-8-4 on the year and 8-7-3-2 in the conference.
“These were playoff-type games this weekend,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. “There was great goaltending; gritty, tough special teams. It was a tough weekend.”
He added, “That team (Alaska) plays hard and they play with a strategy that makes them successful. It’s just a matter before you break down and you’re behind. I don’t even want to think about what it would be like to have to come from behind against them.”
The two teams traded chances through the first two periods with Notre Dame out shooting Alaska, 19-14 with Pearce and Nanook goaltender Chad Johnson stopping every thing thrown their way.
Going into the third period, the game had the same feel as the previous night when Notre Dame scored twice in the third for a 2-0 victory.
Hard work in the Alaska zone gave the Irish their first goal. The line of Garrett Regan, Hanson and Christiaan Minella controlled the puck from the right boards, behind the net to the left boards where Minella came up with it. The junior right wing fired a pass to defenseman Kyle Lawson at the right point where he let a shot go towards the traffic in front of the goal.
Regan appeared to deflect it in front before Hanson changed directions on the biscuit one more time, getting it past Johnson for his 14th goal of the season at 5:53 and the Irish led 1-0.
Lawson did a great job keeping the puck in the zone as he played the puck around a broken stick.
“The pass didn’t hit the stick but I was able to get it on goal from there,” explained the junior defenseman. “I didn’t even see it go in. Hanny (Hanson) or Regan got a good stick on it and got it into the net.”
Ryan would make it 2-0 at the 12:28 mark as he won the battle for position in front of the net. Ryan Thang moved the puck from the goal line along the left boards to Teddy Ruth at the left point. With Ryan screening Johnson, Ruth got a shot on goal that Johnson was able to stop. Ryan grabbed the rebound and spun around firing it into the open goal for his sixth of the season and a 2-0 lead.
Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson pulled Johnson (who finished with 26 saves) with 1:37 left in the game in favor of a sixth attacker, but the Irish would take advantage of it with Thang closing the scoring at 19:05 with an empty net goal. The goal was Thang’s eighth of the season and third in as many games.
Center Kevin Deeth won the faceoff in the Notre Dame zone to Erik Condra who carried the puck right up the middle of the ice. He left it for Deeth at center ice who slid it to Thang on the right side and he fired it into the open net for the final goal of the night and the 3-0 Notre Dame win.
Thang would close out the scoring with his second point of the night and his third goal in as many games as Regan it didn’t hit the broken stick and I was able to get it in from there. I didn’t even see it go in. Hanny or Regan got his stick on it and it got into the net.
The importance of the weekend sweep was not lost on Lawson. “They really took it to us in the first two periods,” said Lawson. “We settled down and started to play like a team and got things going offensively in the third period.”
“This was a huge weekend for us,” added Lawson. “It’s hard for anyone to come out and say they played their best hockey against this team because of the way they play defense. It’s so frustrating and so defensive that you really aren’t going to create much against them. They are in the top five nationally in defense and they have great goaltending, so taking two from them was big for us.”
Condra’s assist on Thang’s goal was the 100th of his Notre Dame career and makes him just the 10th player in the program’s history to record 100 assists in his career.
Pearce now has four shutouts this season and eight for his career. The win moved him into fourth on the school’s all-time win list with 46 overall.
The Irish return to action next weekend on the road when they travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to face Lake Superior State on Jan. 16-17 in a pair of 7:05 p.m. games.
â€¢ Notre Dame’s win gives the Irish a 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) against Alaska. The last time the Irish lost to the Nanooks was in the 2006 CCHA playoffs.
â€¢ For the weekend, Notre Dame killed off all 10 Alaska power-play chances, holding them to 0-for-5 each night.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - Frv/#19 Alaska (10-8-4/8-7-3-2) 0 0 0 - 0#1/#1 Notre Dame (18-3-2/12-2-2-2) 0 0 3 - 3
First Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: UAF: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Second Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: UAF: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 3 for 6 minutes.
Penalties: UAF: 2 for 4 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Alaska 7 - 7 - 8 - 22Notre Dame 10 - 9 - 10 - 29
Goaltender Saves:UAF - Chad Johnson (59:15) 10 - 9 - 7 - 26ND - Jordan Pearce (59:52) 7 - 7 - 8 - 22
Power Plays:UAF: 0 for 5ND: 0 for 3
Attendance: 2,857 (sellout)