Jan. 9, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – Ryan Thang’s power-play goal at 11:40 of the third period proved to be the game winner and Erik Condra added an empty net score with 57 seconds left to give Notre Dame a hard-fought, 2-0 win, over Alaska in front of a sell-out crowd of 2,857 at the Joyce Center on Friday night.
Senior goaltender Jordan Pearce stopped all 16 Nanook shots he faced to record his third shutout of the season and seventh of his career, while Alaska’s Chad Johnson stopped 28-of-29 Notre Dame shots in the loss.
Notre Dame’s win extended its current winning streak to seven straight and the school-record unbeaten streak to 17 games (15-0-2) as the Irish have not lost since Oct. 25. The victory improved top-ranked Notre Dame to 17-3-2 overall and 11-2-2-2 in the CCHA, good for 26 points in the conference. That gives the Irish a three-point lead over second-place Miami and a five-point lead over Alaska. The Nanooks are now 10-7-4 on the year and 8-6-3-2 in the league.
The Irish dominated most of the first period, at one time having a 10-0 shots advantage and had the best chance to score and it came short-handed as Thang blocked a shot at the Irish blue line and raced in all alone on Johnson before ringing a shot off the cross bar.
“That’s been the story of my life this season – off the cross bar,” said Thang. “I saw the defenseman bury his head so I knew he was going to take a shot. I tried to get in his lane and I got a good bounce and took it down and let it rip and it went off the cross bar. Those things happen but it was nice to get an offensive chance off the penalty kill.”
The junior left wing didn’t let the early miss effect his play during the game. “You think about it on the bench, but it’s happened so many times this year where I hit the cross bar,” explained Thang. “Eventually you get numb to it and just think, `alright, what are you going to do about it? Go get another chance.’ I got some other chances tonight. Our line played great tonight and we just kept working for those chances.”
The Nanooks came into the game with the nation’s top-ranked defense, surrendering just 1.45 goals per game and they were able to hold the Notre Dame offense at bay most of the night.
“Alaska is a very patient team. They do a great job clogging passing lanes and shooting lanes,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson.
“If you start forcing things, that’s when they become effective in transition. You have to play with poise and discipline. If you get away from that for a second, they’ll get an opportunity to score.”
Notre Dame got the break it needed when Scott Enders was whistled off for kneeing at 10:42 of the third period. This time the Irish power play was able to get the puck past Johnson with Thang getting the goal at 11:40, his seventh goal of the season.
Sophomore center Ben Ryan carried the puck along the right boards in the Alaska end and at the bottom of the right circle slid the puck to defenseman Kyle Lawson who was parked in front of Johnson in front of the crease. Instead of shooting, Lawson slid the puck across the crease to Thang on the left side and he banged it in for a 1-0 lead.
“(Kyle) Lawson couldn’t give me a better pass,” said Thang. “My hands were in tight and I was a little handcuffed. I hit it as hard as I could and it went in. I’ll take it.”
Scoring on the power play was something that Jackson and his team talked about during the second intermission.
“We talked about it before third period. Our power-play had to step up,” said Thang. “We were getting good chances. Their goalie has played well all season. If we get can get a power-play goal, we have a pretty good chance of winning the game.” Pearce held the Nanooks at bay for the rest of the game and with 1:47 left, Alaska pulled its goaltender for a sixth attacker.
Condra would get the insurance goal at 19:03. Christian Hanson won a face off in his zone to the right of Pearce, drawing it back to Lawson who banked it off the boards to Hanson at the Notre Dame blue line. Hanson moved it to Condra at the Alaska blue line and the senior captain deposited it in the empty net for his fifth goal of the season and the final score of 2-0.
On the night, the Irish out shot Alaska by a 30-16 margin. Alaska was 0-for-5 on the power play while Notre Dame was 1-for-5.
The two teams meet on Saturday night at the Joyce Center with opening face off set for 7:05 p.m.
â€¢ The shutout was the third of the season for Jordan Pearce and the seventh of his Notre Dame career. He moves into second on Notre Dame’s all-time shutout list behind David Brown `07 who finished his career with 12. The win also was the 45th of Pearce’s career and moves him into a tie for fourth on the all-time win list with Dave Laurion `82.
â€¢ Erik Condra’s goal was the 40th of his career. He needs one more assist for the 100th of his career. He will become the 10th Notre Dame player to record 100 assists or more in his career.
â€¢ Notre Dame’s win gives the Irish a nine-game unbeaten streak (8-0-1) against Alaska. The last time the Irish lost to the Nanooks was in the 2006 CCHA playoffs.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - Frv/#19 Alaska (10-7-4/8-6-3-2) 0 0 0 - 0#1/#1 Notre Dame (17-3-2/11-2-2-2) 0 0 2 - 2
First Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: UAF: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Second Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: UAF: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 4 for 8 minutes.
Penalties: UAF: 6 for 12 minutes; ND: 5 for 10 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Alaska 4 - 7 - 5 - 16Notre Dame 10 - 10 - 10 - 30
Goaltender Saves: UAF - Chad Johnson (59:08) 10 - 10 - 10 - 30ND - Jordan Pearce (60:00) 4 - 7 - 5 - 16
UAF: 0 for 5
ND: 1 for 5
Attendance: 2,857 (sellout)