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Hockey: Squad ends road trip with loss

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No. 5 Notre Dame will be more than happy to return to campus this week, as its stretch of four road games in eight days ended with a 4-2 loss at Bowling Green on Tuesday night.

The loss to the Falcons (7-10-5, 4-7-3-1 CCHA) was just the latest in the team’s road blues, as the Irish (15-7-0, 11-3-0-0) lost 4-1 at No. 1 Minnesota on Jan. 8 before splitting a weekend series against Michigan State. Scoring, or a lack thereof, was much of the issue for the team over the four-game trip, as Notre Dame scored just five times in that span.

“We’ve had some injuries that have forced us to shuffle our lines, and that ruins any chemistry that we’ve had,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “That’s something that develops over time. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get guys back, but until then we have to work on rushing the zone, and hopefully getting some of that chemistry back.”

Tuesday’s game looked to be different early on, as junior winger Bryan Rust tipped home a shot from junior center T.J. Tynan – his sixth goal of the year – to give the Irish a quick lead. But Bowling Green fired right back in the second, getting two pucks past senior goaltender Mike Johnson, who earned a rare start. Johnson made his fair share of saves, including a few spectacular ones to keep the Irish in it, and Jackson said that his performance was up to par.

“[Johnson] played well enough to help us win,” Jackson said. “We just gave up too many decent chances. It wasn’t about him, it was about being unable to capitalize on our power play, and playing too loose defensively.”

The Falcons pushed the lead to 3-1 in the third period, but the Irish didn’t stop fighting. With just over three minutes remaining, Tynan created another goal on the power play to cut the lead to one. But the Irish surrendered a five-on-five goal seconds later, which put the game out of reach and cemented the win for Bowling Green.

“That wasn’t a good goal,” Jackson said. “That was a big momentum goal, because we had just cut it to a one-goal game to get some of that momentum back. That goal killed us.”

Despite the loss, Notre Dame still sits atop the CCHA with 33 points, and will look to extend that lead when it hosts Alaska this weekend. The Compton Family Ice Arena, where Notre Dame has won its last five contests and scored 22 goals in that span, should be a sight for sore eyes this weekend, and Jackson hopes the goals will return as well.

“We have to do a better job with the puck offensively, and we have to have more discipline,” he said. “We have to do a better job of competing as a team.”

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu