Junior defenseman Tom Sawatske scored Notre Dame's only goal in the 2-1 loss to Alaska Fairbanks.

Irish Rally From A Two-Goal Deficit To Defeat Northern Michigan 4-3

Third-period goals by Erik Condra and Tom Sawatske just eight seconds apart and a strong relief appearance in goal by freshman Jordan Pearce led Notre Dame to a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Northern Michigan Wildcats in front of a sellout crowd of 3,991 at the Berry Events Center on Saturday night.

The Irish rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the second period and picked up their first win of the season when entering the third period trailing on the scoreboard. Notre Dame entered the game with an 0-13-0 mark when trailing after two periods.

Condra got the game-tying goal on the power play at 8:42 of the third period and Sawatske got his game winner just eight seconds later at 8:50 to give the Irish the win. Mark Van Guilder and Mike Walsh also scored for the Irish. Andy Contois had two goals and Darin Olver one for the Wildcats.

The biggest play of the night though may have been made by Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. After Northern Michigan went ahead 3-1 at 6:43 of the second period, Jackson called a timeout to allow his squad to regroup. He also replaced starting goaltender David Brown with Pearce in goal. The freshman slammed the door on the Wildcats, stopping all 14 shots he faced in his first appearance since Dec. 2 versus Western Michigan.

Pearce and the Irish penalty killers were especially tough in the final 3:49 of play when referee Kevin Hall called a major penaly on Notre Dame’s Michael Bartlett for hitting-from-behind to give the Wildcats a five-minute power play. Pearce stopped all three shots he faced while the penalty killers blocked several shots to hold on to the one-goal lead.

The win moves the Irish to 8-13-3 on the year and 6-9-3 in CCHA play. Northern Michigan goes to 14-11-1 overall and 10-9-1 in conference play.

The two teams traded power-play goals in the first period with the Notre Dame getting on the scoreboard first at 10:13.

The Irish carried the puck into the right-wing circle where Josh Sciba left it for Condra. The freshman right wing moved the puck along the goal line and threaded the needle with a pass across the goal mouth to Mark Van Guilder. Van Guilder had a wide-open net and deposited the puck behind Wildcat goaltender Bill Zaniboni for his fourth goal of the season. Condra finished the game with a goal and two assists, his fourth three-point game of the season and was named the game’s first star.

The Wildcats answered back with their power-play goal just 40 seconds later as Olver scored from in front, firing a shot off Irish goaltender David Brown’s glove for his 11th goal of the season at 10:53. For Olver, the goal was his fourth of the weekend versus Notre Dame after a hat trick on Friday night.

The Wildcats would make it 3-1 in the second period, getting a pair of goals from Contois. His first came at even strength at 4:35 when he fired the rebound of a Matt Siddall shot through a screen in front for his 11th of the season.

Contois’ second goal came on a power play at 6:43. Defenseman Nathan Oystrick blasted a shot from the center point that Contois got his stick on to the left of Brown and deflected the puck over his glove for his 12th of the year. At that point, Jackson called the time out. The Irish got back on track and cut the lead to 3-2 at 12:36 on a Mike Walsh deflection. Condra whipped a shot at goal from the high slot with Walsh parked in front. The big left winger got his stick on the puck deflecting it past Zaniboni for his seventh of the season and second on the weekend.

Notre Dame kept the pressure on in the third period and got the equalizer at 8:42 of the period when Condra picked up his fourth goal of the season and third point of the game, this time scoring on the power play. Defenseman Noah Babin moved in from the right point and fired a low shot that Zaniboni made the pad save on. The rebound slid out to Condra below the left wing circle and he fired it home to make it a 3-3 game.

Just eight seconds later at 8:50, the Irish would take the lead. T.J. Jindra won the face off at center and Brock Sheahan kicked it to Sawatske who carried it down the left side before firing a shot from the left-wing circle that beat the Wildcat goaltender through his pads and inside the right post to give the Irish their second lead of the night. The goal was the junior defenseman’s first of the season and first of his career after playing two seasons at Wisconsin.

From there, the Irish held off the Wildcats with Pearce making nine saves in the final period, three on the final 3:49 power play chance for Northern Michigan.

On the night, Northern Michigan out shot the Irish by a 25-21 margin. Zaniboni had 17 saves in the Northern goal. Brown, who was playing in his 17th consecutive game, had eight saves in 26:32 of action.

Notre Dame will be on the road again next week when the Irish travel to Ohio State on Jan. 27-28. Game time on Friday is 8:05 p.m. with the game to be televised by CSTV.


Final Stats

* Tom Sawatske’s goal was his first collegiate goal since Nov. 29, 2003 when he scored a power-play goal versus Michigan State while playing for the Wisconsin Badgers. He had three goals and 11 assists in 54 games while at Wisconsin from 2002-04.

* Jordan Pearce’s victory versus Northern Michigan was his third of the season and first since Nov. 10 when he got the win in a 9-4 victory over Bowling Green.

* With two power-play goals in the game, Notre Dame has now scored two or more power-play goals in four of its last seven games and has at least one in each of the last seven games. Over that span, the Irish are 12-for-47 on the power play for a 25.5% success rate.

GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FNotre Dame (8-13-3/6-9-3) 1 1 2 - 4No. Michigan (14-11-1/10-9-1) 1 2 0 - 3
ScoringFirst Period: ND: Mark Van Guilder 4 (Erik Condra, Josh Sciba), PPG, 10:13; NMU: Darin Olver 11 (Pat Bateman, Matt Siddall), PPG, 10:53.Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; NMU: 4 for 8 minutes.
Second Period: NMU: Andy Contois 11 (Matt Siddall, Dirk Southern), 4:35; NMU: Contois 12 (Nathan Oystrick, Jamie Milam), 6:43; ND: Mike Walsh 7 (Condra, Sciba), 12:36.Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; NMU: 3 for 14 minutes.
Third Period: ND: Condra 5 (Noah Babin, M. Walsh), PPG, 8:42; ND: Tom Sawatske 1 (Brock Sheahan, T.J. Jindra), 8:50Penalties: ND: 5 for 21 minutes; NMU: 3 for 6 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 5 - 12 - 4 - 21No. Michigan 7 - 9 - 9 - 25
Goaltender Saves:ND - David Brown (26:53) 6 - 2 - x - 8 Jordan Pearce (33:07) x - 5 - 9 - 14NMU - Bill Zaniboni (59:05) 4 - 11 - 2 - 17
Power Plays:ND: 2 for 6NMU: 2 for 5
Attendance: 3,991 (sellout)