The University of Alaska took advantage of a five-minute power play and scored the only two goals it needed in a span of 35 seconds to hand Notre Dame its fourth straight loss, a 2-1 decision on Saturday night. The loss came in front of a sellout crowd of 5,022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Nik Yaremchuk and Tyler Morley scored power-play goals for the Nanooks while Mario Lucia had the lone Irish goal in the game.
After a wide-open game on Friday night, the two teams clamped down defensively as they combined for just 37 shots on the night with Notre Dame having a 20-17 advantage. Steven Summerhays finished with 15 saves in the Irish goal while John Keeney stopped 19-of-20 Irish shots.
The four-game skid is the longest for Notre Dame since a five-game streak from Feb. 4 to Feb. 18 last season. The Irish are now 1-5-0 in January and have now finished their run of six games in the last 12 days since Jan. 8.
The loss drops #4/#5 Notre Dame to 15-9-0 overall and they fall to 11-5-0-0 in the CCHA. The Irish are now tied for first with Western Michigan with 33 points while Miami is in third just one point behind with 32 points. Alaska is now 4-0-1 in its last five games, winning all four games versus Michigan and Notre Dame on the current two-week road trip. The Nanooks are now 10-8-4 overall and 8-7-3-1 in the conference and have moved into fifth place with 28 points.
Coach Jeff Jackson hopes to get the Irish back on track as they return to a more normal schedule this week.
"We'll have a day off tomorrow (Sunday) and then a good week of practice," said Jackson.
"Rest and back into a normal routine with school and practice. Then we just have to wait to get some guys healthy and hopefully we can get that chemistry back. That's what I am expecting."
For the third straight game, Notre Dame scored first. Through the first 18 games of the season, the Irish were 12-0-0 when they got the first goal of the game. That stat hasn't carried over to the second half, as they are 1-3-0 when getting the opening goal.
Lucia put the Irish ahead 1-0 at 11:50 of the first when he banged the rebound of a Stephen Johns slap shot past Kenney for his seventh of the season and second in as many night. The Irish controlled the puck in the Alaska zone and moved the puck back to Shayne Taker at the left point. The juniors' shot was blocked with the rebound going directly to Johns at the right point. The big blue liner hammered a shot on goal that Kenney stopped but the rebound came free just outside the crease where Lucia punched it home.
With the momentum, Notre Dame pressed the attack before Thomas DiPauli was called for a five-minute major for hitting from behind at 14:46. The penalty also came with a game misconduct and put the Nanooks on the power play.
The Irish would kill the first 1:38 of the major when Alaska tied the game as Yaremchuk scored on a deflection at 16:24. Jarret Granberg, who assisted on both Nanook goals in the game, took a shot from the right point. Yaremchuck was just below the hash marks and deflected the shot over Summerhays for his fourth goal of the season.
Just 35 seconds later at 16:59, Morley scored what proved to be the game winner when he tucked the rebound of a Granberg shot from the right side past Summerhays who had made the first save. The goal was Morley's eighth of the season.
That would be it for the scoring as neither team could muster a sustained attack the rest of the game. Alaska finished the night going 2-for-6 on the power play while Notre Dame was 0-for-4.
"Alaska's a pretty good clamp down team. Once they got the lead we never could get that early momentum back," said Jackson.
Play got chippy late as the two teams each finished the night with seven penalties for 25 minutes.
Notre Dame will have a week to find the right combinations to break the current streak. The Irish will play host to Ferris State at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Jan. 25-26.