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Hockey: Notre Dame drops two more

Michael Blasco | Monday, February 22, 2010

The Irish must be thinking they’re trapped in the movie “Groundhog Day,” because they keep playing the same game again and again.

Notre Dame tallied a loss and a shootout loss in a road weekend series against Bowling Green, with the Irish letting late leads slip away in each game. The rough weekend drops Notre Dame to 12-14-7 overall and 8-11-6-2 in the CCHA, 10th in the conference.

An inability to hold onto late leads has been a repeated theme for Notre Dame that led to the team’s foothold in the CCHA erosion. Irish coach Jeff Jackson cited his squad’s exhaustive list of injuries as the prime reason Notre Dame has faded as the CCHA season draws to a close.

“I think part of it is still a depth issue,” Jackson said. “We lost [senior center] Kevin Deeth early in Friday night, our best faceoff guy, and it leads to fatigue when we’re playing a short bench. I think that hurt us Saturday night.”

The Irish sprinted to a 3-1 lead over the Falcons at BGSU Ice Arena Friday on goals from freshman wing Kyle Palmieri, senior wing Ryan Thang and junior defenseman Joe Lavin. Bowling Green answered with three straight goals in a five-minute span in the third period to scrape out a 4-3 win over freshman goalkeeper Mike Johnson.

“I thought we played well the first two periods,” Jackson said. “We couldn’t sustain it. It’s been challenging in that regard for us throughout the season. Injuries break up your continuity with everything.”

Notre Dame gained a 1-0 lead over the Falcons Saturday night with Palmieri’s eighth goal of the season in the opening seconds of the second period. Bowling Green outshot the Irish 14-6 in the third, notching the equalizer in the process. A scoreless overtime forced a shootout, with senior Falcon forward Tomas Petruska beating Johnson for the win.

Notre Dame is winless over the last four games, effectively dropping the team out of contention for a decent finish in the CCHA. The Irish will host Michigan in a home-and-home series next week in their season finale, hoping to put together some momentum before the conference tournament in March.

“I’m glad we’ve got one more home game,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be a special game for our senior class against Michigan. We have to put ourselves in a good position for the tournament. We have to go into the playoffs playing well.”