Senior left wing Jarret Granberg scored his second goal of the night and the game winner with just three seconds left on the clock to give Alaska a 5-4 win over Notre Dame in front of a sellout crowd of 5,022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Granberg's goal capped a wild shootout that saw the Irish rally from a two-goal deficit and a pair of one-goal deficits only to come up short as time ticked away in the third period. Joining Granberg, who had a three-point night on the Nanooks side of the ledger were Garrick Perry, Nik Yaremchuk and Andy Taranto as Alaska led 3-1, 3-2 and 4-3 only to see Notre Dame battle back each time.
Junior captain Anders Lee led the Irish attack with a goal and two assists on the night. Austin Wuthrich, T.J. Tynan and Mario Lucia also scored for Notre Dame. Lee's three-point night made him the 48th player in Irish hockey history to reach 100 points in his career. The Edina, Minn., native now has 54 goals and 46 assists in 107 career games.
The loss gives #4/#5 Notre Dame a three-game losing streak, the team's longest of the season, and drops the Irish to 15-8-0 on the year and 11-4-0 in the CCHA. Notre Dame remains in first in the conference with a one-point lead on Miami with one game in hand on the RedHawks. With the win, Alaska is now 3-0-1 in its last four games, including a 3-0-0 mark on the current four-game road trip. The Nanooks are 9-8-4 overall and 7-7-3-1 in the CCHA.
"You fight back and you fight back and then make poor decisions with the puck and it ends up in the back of the net. That's what it boiled down to. We need to do a better job."
Lee got the offensive show underway with his 13th goal of the season at 5:27 of the opening period. The big center banged the rebound of Bryan Rust shot past Alaska goaltender John Kenney to make it 1-0.
The Irish enjoyed the lead for less than two minutes when Perry scored his first goal of the season at 7:03 of first, depositing the rebound of a Nolan Huysmans shot behind Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays.
Forty-five seconds later at 7:48, Alaska forged ahead with Yaremchuk picking up his third goal of the season converting another rebound, this time off the stick of Granberg to make it 2-1 after one period.
It would take over 17 minutes for any scoring in the second period but each team would get one in a span of 42 seconds.
Taranto made it 3-1 in favor of Alaska when his wrist shot from the high slot popped out of Summerhays' glove and trickled over the goal line. The goal was Taranto's seventh of the season.
Notre Dame answered back with Wuthrich scoring from his knees in front of the Alaska goal has he took the rebound of a Sam Calabrese shot and flipped it behind Kenney. Calabrese took a pass from Lee off the left wing boards and moved down the slot before taking a backhander that the Alaska goaltender could not control. That cut the Nanook lead to 3-2 after two periods.
The Irish tied the game for the first time on the night at 10:37 and they did it short-handed as Tynan scored on a breakaway to make it 3-3. Calabrese, who had two assists on the night, took a loose puck in front of the Notre Dame goal and hit a streaking Tynan at the Alaska blue line. The speedy center went in on Kenney and snapped a shot over Kenney's stick hand for his seventh goal of the season.
Fans at the Compton Family Ice Arena had barely returned to their seats after celebrating the goal when Alaska went ahead 4-3 as Granberg scored on the same power play at 11:16 for his first goal of the night with Yaremchuck and Campbell picking up the assists.
"Them scoring was very frustrating," said Lee following the game.
"That's momentum changing. When T.J. (Tynan) scored his goal, we were flying and they came back and popped one in again. That just kills you."
Notre Dame wasn't done though as the Irish were able to tie the game one more time with Lucia getting the equalizer at 15:58 to make it 4-4. The goal came off a face off in the left circle that Lee was able to win. Rust controlled the puck in the circle and left it for Lucia as he crossed behind him. The freshman left wing whipped a quick wrist shot that beat Kenney over his stick hand and under the cross bar for his sixth goal of the season.
"The kids competed hard and kept coming back throughout the game," said Jackson.
"Both times we scored, I thought we were going to win the game. But then we make a bonehead play and it's in the back of our net."
All that was left was the heartbreaking finish as Granberg pushed the rebound of a shot by Tyler Morley past Summerhays at 19:57 to give Alaska the 5-4 win. Granberg's goal was set up by Yaremchuk who forced a turnover near the Irish blue line and fed the puck ahead to Morley in the slot. Summerhays stopped his shot, but Granberg crashed the net to get the game winner.
On the night, the Irish out shot Alaska by a 28-27 margin. Summerhays finished with 22 saves while Kenney had 24.
The two teams will close out the two-game series at 7:08 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19th at the Compton Family Ice Arena. CBS Sports Network will televise the game.
** IRISH NOTES **
** With his three points, Anders Lee is now tied for 47th on Notre Dame's all-time points list with Paul Clarke `77. While Lee was joining the "Century Club," T.J. Tynan continued his move up the list with a goal and an assist in the game. Tynan is now tied for 34th all-time with Ryan Thang `10 as both have 115 points. Tynan now has 43 goals and 72 assists.