Jan. 29, 2012
Fairbanks, Alaska – Notre Dame’s rollercoaster season continued on Saturday night as the Irish played strong defense and scored three goals to rally from a 2-1 deficit to down Alaska, 4-2, at the Carlson Center in front of 3,222 fans who braved temperatures near 50-below zero.
The Irish limited the Nanooks to just 17 shots in the game after surrendering six goals in Friday’s loss and saw four players score single goals – Nick Larson (ppg), T.J. Tynan, Stephen Johns and Riley Sheahan (shg) – to take the win. Jarret Granberg and Cody Kunyk scored Alaska’s goals in the game.
The Irish out shot Alaska, 23-17, on the night. After giving up a pair of goals on the first two shots he faced, Notre Dame goaltender Mike Johnson stopped the remaining 15 shots he faced. Scott Greenham made 19 stops in the Nanook goal.
For Johnson, the win snapped a personal five-game losing streak and was his first victory since Nov. 25 when he won a 4-1 decision at Lake Superior State.
The victory gives the fourth-ranked Irish a split of the weekend series and improves them to 15-10-3 overall and 10-7-3-0 in the CCHA, good for 33 points. The victory moves Notre Dame into sixth place in the league standings, two points behind fifth-place Lake Superior (35) and just four behind first-place Ferris State. The Irish have two games in hand on the Lakers, Ohio State and Miami, three of the teams in front of them.
The loss drops 10th-place Alaska to 9-12-4 overall and 6-11-4-2 in the CCHA.
Notre Dame got off to a fast start in Saturday’s game, getting the first goal of the game at 4:43 on the power play. Sheahan made a nice pass from the goal line to set Larson up in the slot and the junior left wing ripped a shot that got through Scott Greenham’s pads and crossed the goal line to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. The goal was Larson’s first on the power play this season and fourth overall. Shayne Taker also picked up an assist on the play.
Notre Dame had little time to enjoy the lead as Alaska answered just 27 seconds later as Granberg closed out a 2-on-1 chance with Carlo Finucci, firing a shot from the right face-off circle past Irish goaltender Mike Johnson at 5:10 for his eighth goal of the season and second of the weekend.
While Notre Dame dominated the shots in the period (12-4), Alaska would take the lead at 14:27 as the Nanooks scored goal number two on their second shot of the night. The Irish defense turned the puck over in front of their goal, leaving Johnson in a tough spot. Kunyk picked up the loose biscuit, made a move and tucked it between Johnson’s skate and the right post for a 2-1 lead. Kunyk’s goal was his 13th of the season and third on the weekend. The sophomore now has six goals this season against Notre Dame.
The two defenses took over the second period, giving up a combined 10 shots. The Irish would get only four in the stanza but scored twice to take the lead.
Tynan got the equalizer at 15:20 as he cashed in on neat give-and-go with freshman Austin Wuthrich. Anders Lee started the play in the neutral zone when his touch pass sent Tynan down the left wing into the Alaska zone. The speedy center moved in with Wuthrich two-on-one and slid the puck to the freshman from Anchorage, Alaska in the slot. Wuthrich got the Nanook defenseman to drop to the ice before moving the puck back to Tynan who whipped a shot from the bottom of the left circle past Greenham for his 11th goal of the year and second on the weekend.
Just 33 seconds later, Notre Dame took the lead. Junior Kevin Nugent carried the puck into the Alaska zone while Johns busted down the left side. Nugent flipped the puck ahead to Johns who cut in on goal at the left face-off dot and lifted a backhander on the shortside under the crossbar past Greenham for his third of the year to give the Irish the 3-2 lead.
The two teams traded 14 shots in the third period with each goaltender making big saves to keep the score at 3-2. With 1:20 left in the game, Alaska pulled Greenham in favor of a sixth attacker. Notre Dame’s forecheck kept the Nanooks bottled up in their own zone before Lee forced a turnover at the blue line, skated towards the goal before feeding Sheahan in the right circle. The junior center fired it into the empty net to seal the Irish road win. The goal was his eighth of the season.
Lee finished the game with a pair of assists and had four on the weekend. Notre Dame’s special teams had a strong night, going 1-for-2 on the power play while killing all three Alaska power-play chances.
The Irish now return home to face the Bowling Green Falcons on Fri.-Sat., Feb. 3-4 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. both nights. The Irish will celebrate Lefty Fest in both games of the weekend series, as the Lefty Smith Rink at the Compton will be formally dedicated.
** IRISH NOTES **
* The Irish have given up the first goal of the game in 16 of 28 games this season. They are 7-8-1 when the opposition scores first and 8-2-2 when they get the first goal of the game.
* When Notre Dame leads after two periods of play this season, the Irish are 12-1-1.
* The Irish have out shot their opposition in 22 of 28 games this season and are 10-9-3 when they have more shots. When Notre Dame is out shot in a game, the Irish are 3-1-0 and when shots are even, Notre Dame is 2-0-0.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F#4/#4 Notre Dame (15-10-3/10-7-3-0) 1 2 1 - 4Alaska (9-13-4/6-12-4-2) 2 0 0 - 2
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; UAF: 2 for 4 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; UAF: 0 for 0 minutes.
Third Period: ND: Sheahan 8 (Lee), ENG, 19:27.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; UAF: 0 for 0 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 12 - 4 - 7 - 23Alaska 4 - 6 - 7 - 17
Goaltender Saves:ND: Mike Johnson (60:00) 2 - 6 - 7 - 15UAF: Scott Greenham (59:21) 11 - 2 - 6 - 19
Power Plays:ND: 1 for 2UAF: 0 for 3