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Irish take three of four points from Nanooks

Justin Schuver | Monday, February 2, 2004

Now that’s more like it. The Irish (13-9-4, 9-8-3 in the CCHA) bounced back from a pair of disappointing one-goal losses last weekend against Northern Michigan by taking three of four points from Alaska Fairbanks (12-13-1, 11-10-1) in a series this weekend at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame won the first game 3-2 on Friday and came back to salvage a 2-2 tie against the Nanooks Saturday.The Irish special teams had a solid weekend with the penalty kill stopping all 11 Nanook power plays in the two games, including eight in the win Friday. Notre Dame’s power play also chipped in with two goals, and Rob Globke scored a shorthanded goal Friday to really put a damper on UAF’s chances at a comeback.Freshman David Brown continued to shine in net, playing both games and stopping 71 of 75 shots, a .947 save percentage. Brown helped a Notre Dame defense ranked No. 1 in the CCHA to hold the league’s top-rated offense, which averages 3.42 goals per game, to just four goals combined.”We took three of four points from a very good team this weekend,” coach Dave Poulin said. “I thought we played real well tonight – got good goaltending and some help from the special teams.”Notre Dame also got much-needed help on offense Saturday, as a player other than the trio of Mike Walsh, Rob Globke and Aaron Gill scored a goal for the first time since Jan. 10 against Bowling Green. Walsh, Globke and Gill scored the goals Friday, and Jason Paige and Brett Lebda scored on Saturday.Lebda’s goal was the key Saturday, as Notre Dame came back from a 2-1 deficit to tie the game in the waning seconds. With David Brown pulled for an extra attacker, the Irish won a face-off in their offensive zone. Neil Komadowski took a shot from the center point that was blocked. The puck hopped into the air. Lebda, who was baring down the right side, caught the puck with his stick and slapped it with a baseball swing into the net past UAF goalie Preston McKay with 28.5 seconds remaining.The senior defenseman skated over to the bench and leapt toward his teammates.”That was a big goal for us,” Lebda said. “We really worked hard tonight. That’s why I went over to celebrate with the team – everyone gave a great effort to help us get a big point.”Notre Dame has developed a habit of taking games to the extra period. The Irish are 0-2-4 in their six overtime contests this season. The Irish have not won a regular-season overtime game since a 4-3 win over Miami (Ohio) on Jan. 5, 2002. The Alaska-Fairbanks series marks the fourth consecutive series in which the Irish have played at least one overtime game, collecting two ties and two overtime losses in that span.”Anytime you score in the last minute of play, it’s a good tie,” Poulin said.The Irish got off to a quick start Friday, leaping out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Gill, who pushed a rebound off a Globke shot past Nanook goalie Kelly Bartusch in the first period.Notre Dame made it 2-0 when Gill found Globke springing through the neutral zone on an Irish penalty kill, and the senior forward flipped the puck past Bartusch for a shorthanded goal. Notre Dame successfully killed four UAF power plays in the first period and took a 2-0 lead into the locker room at the first intermission. UAF came back quickly in the second period, with Ryan Lang beating Brown for a goal at the 1:16 mark of the period. Notre Dame got the game winner in the third, though, when Walsh took a hard shot from the slot to beat Bartusch less than five minutes into the third period.Cam Keith would score a late goal in the third for the Nanooks after pulling Bartusch, but UAF was unable to get the equalizer. The Irish came away with the win despite being outshot 42-29. Brown matched a career best with 40 saves in the victory.Saturday, each team was held scoreless in a wild first period, as UAF’s McKay and Notre Dame’s Brown stymied several quality chances. Notre Dame would get on the scoreboard in the second, with the freshman Paige scoring on a four-on-three Irish power play.The Nanooks would even the score on the next shift, however, after Cam Keith stole the puck in the Irish defensive zone and slipped it to Aaron Voros, who beat a helpless Brown far post. UAF would then take the lead at 9:56 of the third period on a goal by Curtis Fraser after another sloppy clearing pass by the Irish defense led to an outnumbered break by the Nanooks.Lebda would score the game-tying goal, but he would not prevent McKay from being named the number one star in the game. The Nanook goalie made 45 saves, the most any opponent has made against the Irish this season.Notre Dame has eight CCHA games remaining, including a critical series on the road this weekend against first place Miami (Ohio).Contact Justin Schuver at [email protected]