Nov. 7, 2009
Fairbanks, Alaska – The Notre Dame Fighting Irish got a stellar performance from freshman goaltender Mike Johnson and just enough offense to hand Alaska its first loss of the season Friday night at the Carlson Center.
Johnson, making just his third career start, stopped 35-of-37 Nanook shots in the game and got goals from Christiaan Minella, Ryan Thang and Kyle Lawson in the win. Alaska got goals from Dion Knelsen and Chad Gehon in the loss.
For ninth-ranked Notre Dame, the win improved the Irish to 5-3-1 overall and 2-0-1-0 in the CCHA, good for seven points in the conference standings. Alaska suffers its first loss of the season and is now 5-1-1 for the season and 2-1-0 in the CCHA with six points in the standings. The win gives the Irish an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) against the Nanooks since Dec. 2, 2006.
With two of the top defensive teams in the country going at it (Alaska was first going in and the Irish were sixth), the opening portion of the game featured a quick pace of action with a great deal of play in the neutral zone.
Notre Dame was able to break through on the scoreboard first getting the opening goal of the night from Minella who ripped a wrist shot past Nanook goaltender Scott Greenham at 11:55 of the first period.
Lawson, who turned in his second consecutive two-point night (1g, 1a), started the play in the neutral zone as he moved the puck to center Riley Sheahan. The freshman then threaded the needle through a pair of Alaska defenders to put Minella in over the Alaska line. The senior right wing got a step on the defense and drilled a wrister from the right circle over Greenham’s left shoulder and under the cross bar for his first goal of the season to give the Irish the 1-0 lead.
Alaska stormed out of the intermission getting three quick shots on Johnson that the freshman was able to turn aside.
The Nanooks finally broke through on Johnson at the 2:08 mark when Knelsen banked a centering pass off an Irish defenseman’s skate to make it a 1-1 game.
Knelsen took a pass from freshman left wing Nik Yaremchuk on the goal line to the left of Johnson. The senior center tried to get the puck to freshman right wing Andy Taranto on the left side of the goal but his pass went off the skate of Ian Cole and deflected just inside the left post for Knelsen’s third goal of the game.
Notre Dame would retake the lead on the power play at 5:24 of the middle period with Thang collecting his second goal of the season and the 50th of his career to make it 2-1.
The Irish enjoyed a five-on-three power play for 59 seconds and were able to score just as the first penalty was coming to an end. Center Kevin Deeth knocked down an Alaska clearing attempt and moved the puck to Billy Maday in the right wing circle. The sophomore from Burr Ridge, Ill., whipped a pass across the slot to Thang who was camped at the bottom of the left circle. The senior wasted little time as he one-timed a shot past Greenham before he could get over in time and the Irish would take their second one-goal lead of the night.
That lead would last less than eight minutes, as Alaska was able to tie the game, 2-2, at the 13:20 mark.
Alaska would tie the game for the second time on the night at 13:20 of some gritty, hard work in front of the goal by Gehon. The freshman forward took a pass from Justin Filzen from behind the net and fired a shot that Johnson stopped with his pads in front. Off the scramble in front, Gehon was able to work the puck loose and lifted a rebound over the Irish goaltender for his second goal of the season and a 2-2 tie.
Again, the Irish would answer with a power-play goal, their second of the night and third consecutive game with a pair of man-advantage goals.
For the second game in a row, Lawson would get on the scoreboard as he fired a shot off Greenham’s glove from the right circle for his third goal of the season and the 3-2 lead.
Junior center Ben Ryan moved the puck to defenseman Ian Cole at the left point who moved it to Lawson on the right point. The veteran defender just moved towards the goal where he drilled a wrist shot off of Greenham at 17:14 to give the Irish their third one-goal lead of the night.
From there, it was all in Johnson’s hands and the rookie netminder did not disappoint as he held off the third period Alaska barrage of shots to preserve the victory. The Nanooks would out shot the Irish, 16-3, in the final stanza and had a 37-17 advantage for the game.
On the night, Greenham finished with 14 saves to Johnson’s career-high of 35. Notre Dame was two-for-three on the power play while Alaska was 0-for-2 on the night.
The two teams will close out the weekend series on Saturday night at the Carlson Center with the opening face off set for 7:05 Alaska time (11:05 p.m. Eastern time).
** IRISH NOTES **
* With his second-period, power-play goal, Ryan Thang has moved into sole possession of ninth-place on Notre Dame’s all-time power-play list with 23 man-advantage goals in his career.
* In three starts this season, freshman goaltender Mike Johnson has given up just three goals on 94 shots. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage with one shutout to start his Notre Dame career.
* With his assist on Kyle Lawson’s game-winning goal, junior Ben Ryan extended his personal point-scoring streak to a career-best six games (2g, 6a). The streak started on October 16 against Providence College.
* Coming into Friday’s game, Alaska had not given up more than two goals all season. On Friday, the Irish scored three times. Alaska had surrendered just two power-play goals in the first six games and the Irish picked up two on the night in the victory.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F#9/#9 Notre Dame (5-3-1/2-0-1-0) 1 2 0 - 3#14/#13 Alaska (5-1-1/2-1-0-0) 0 2 0 - 2
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; UAF: 0 for 0 minutes.
Second Period: UAF: Dion Knelsen 3 (Nik Yaremchuk, Andy Taranto), 2:08; ND: Thang 2 (Billy Maday), PPG, 5:24; UAF: Chad Gehon 2 (Justin Filzen, Ron Meyers), 13:20; ND: Lawson 3 (Ian Cole, Ben Ryan), PPG, 17:14.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; UAF: 3 for 6 minutes.
Third Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; UAF: 0 for 0 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 7 - 7 - 3 - 17Alaska 9 - 12 - 16 - 37
Goaltender Saves:ND - Mike Johnson (60:00) 9 - 10 - 16 - 35UAF - Scott Greenham (59:05) 6 - 5 - 3 - 15
Power Plays:ND: 2 for 3UAF: 0 for 2
— ND —