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Hockey: Squad snaps losing streak

Sam Gans | Monday, January 28, 2013


The No. 8 Irish dropped Friday night’s game, 3-1, against visiting Ferris State but rebounded to snap a five-game losing streak Saturday with a 5-2 win over the Bulldogs behind senior forward Kevin Nugent’s game-winning goal, the first goal of his career.

Notre Dame (16-10-0, 12-6-0-0 CCHA) got on the board 6:34 into the first period Friday night when junior center and captain Anders Lee scored on a rebound off a shot from senior defenseman Sam Calabrese.

The Bulldogs (13-10-3, 11-8-1-0) responded in the second period, as senior forward and captain Kyle Bonis scored on the power play 3:18 into the period and sophomore center Dom Panetta gave Ferris State the lead with 7:41 remaining in the period. Bonis added an empty net goal in the third period to seal the game.

Despite outshooting the Bulldogs 33-25 Friday night, the Irish could not break out of their slump.

“I thought we were better tonight than we’ve been in the last three weeks,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “We had a number of good scoring chances and couldn’t finish. And they finished on their chances and we didn’t. This time of year, it’s about goaltending and special teams, and theirs was better than ours today in those two areas.”

The Irish generated numerous scoring chances – junior forward Bryan Rust and sophomore defenseman Robbie Russo each hit the post with a shot in the first and second period, respectively – but could only muster one shot past Bulldog sophomore goalie CJ Motte.

“I think we got our chances, we just hit those posts,” Calabrese said. “That’s not an excuse, but at the same time, we’re getting the chances, we’re getting open shots, we’re getting looks, but I think those net-front battles really would help, and I think we’ll get a little more consistency here with some guys back.”

Saturday’s game began similarly to Friday’s, with the Irish up 1-0 at the first intermission. Irish junior center David Gerths deflected in junior defenseman Stephen Johns’ shot from the point and, later in the period, referees overturned a Ferris State goal after video review showed the puck hit the post and did not completely cross the goal line. 

The Bulldogs went up 2-1 in the second period, following goals from senior center Travis Ouellette and junior center Cory Kane. Sandwiched between the two goals was a failed penalty shot attempt by Lee, who was denied by the pads of Bulldogs freshman goalie Charles Williams.

Unlike Friday, however, the Irish responded with the next goal, as freshman forward Thomas DiPauli received a long pass from Johns and scored a four-on-four goal from inside the left faceoff circle over Williams’ glove at the 12:03 mark.

Less than three minutes later, the Irish went ahead for good when Nugent scored in a similar fashion to DiPauli. Freshman forward Mario Lucia chipped the puck into the offensive zone, and Nugent corralled it before releasing a shot from the faceoff circle high and glove-side. 

Nugent said he hadn’t thought much about his individual goalless run, and was happy to provide a lift to a team that had been struggling for victories.

“To be honest with you, I was just happy to put our team ahead,” Nugent said. “We’ve obviously been through a tough stretch right now. I know that’s what I’m supposed to be saying to [the media], but that’s the honest truth. It was a big goal for us and we needed to come out here and get a big win tonight.”

 Less than a minute into the third period, Lucia provided breathing room for the Irish when he scored to put Notre Dame up 4-2. Junior center T.J. Tynan ended any hopes of a Bulldog comeback when he scored a five-on-three goal with under three minutes remaining in regulation.

Jackson referenced a second period timeout when the Irish were down 2-1 as a potential turning point in the contest.

“I was getting into their wheelhouse on the bench, just because we were turning the puck over,” Jackson said. “We did a really good job early in the game and then all of a sudden, we started turning the puck over. 

“That’s when the game changed back in their favor, and then after that penalty shot was when the game started to change a little bit back in our favor, because we were starting to move the puck forward instead of turning it over.”

Jackson said the Irish still have work to do to improve but hopes the victory changes the team’s trajectory.

“When things go bad, they tend to go bad,” Jackson said. “They continue to go bad until something happens that changes it. Maybe tonight it was that four-on-four goal by DiPauli and then Nugent’s goal. That was maybe the turning point for us to get back at least heading in the right direction.”

 The Irish next hit the ice when they travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a series at Ohio State this upcoming weekend.

Contact Sam Gans at [email protected]