For the fifth straight game, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish came up short on the offensive side of the ledger as they dropped a 3-1 decision to Ferris State on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 5,022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Sophomore goaltender CJ Motte stopped 32 of 33 Notre Dame shots in the game and the Bulldog offense got a pair of goals from Kyle Bonis and a game winner from Dom Panetta in the wins. Anders Lee scored the lone Irish goal of the night; his league-leading 14th of the season but it wasn't enough. Junior goaltender Steven Summerhays made 22 saves on the night.
The loss, the fifth straight for Notre Dame since Jan. 12 drops the Irish to 15-10-0 overall and 11-6-0-0 in the CCHA. Notre Dame's loss combined with wins by Western Michigan and Miami dropped the Irish into fourth place in the conference, three points behind the first-place Broncos, two behind the second-place RedHawks and one behind Ferris State. The Bulldogs picked up their fourth straight win to improve to 13-9-3 overall and 11-7-1-0 in the league.
"We have to be better, plain and simple," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson following the game.
"I thought we did some good things tonight. We played better than we have in the last three weeks. We had a number of good scoring chances and couldn't finish. They finished on their chances and we didn't, it's pretty simple."
For the fourth straight game, Notre Dame scored the first goal of the game and for the fourth straight night, the Irish came up short on the scoreboard. For the season, they have scored the first goal of the game in 17 of 25 games and are now 13-4-0 in those contests.
Lee made it 1-0 at the 6:34 mark of the first period when he tucked the rebound of a Sam Calabrese shot through Motte's pads for his 14th goal of the year. Freshman Mario Lucia dug the puck out of left corner and found Calabrese alone in the high slot where he fired a shot into Motte that he couldn't control, leaving it on the doorstep where Lee banged it home.
The Irish held on to the one-goal lead until the Bulldogs capitalized on a power-play chance at 3:18 of the second.
Bonis picked up his first of the game when he beat Summerhays through his pads from the bottom of the right circle for his 12th of the year to make it 1-1. Garrett Thompson and Jason Binkley assisted on the goal.
The lead went to 2-1 at 12:19 as Ferris State forced a turnover along the right boards. Nate Milam kept the puck in the Irish zone near the blue line and dumped it to the left boards where Dakota Klecha tracked it down. He slid a pass towards the goal and the right post where Panetta got his stick on it to deflect it past Summerhays for his second of the season and the eventual game winner.
Notre Dame had its chances throughout the night as they peppered Motte with 33 shots, including 16 in the second period but couldn't get the puck past him. The Irish did hit one goal post and a crossbar but that was as close as they would come.
"We had a lot of energy and played well in the second period, but it just wasn't enough," said Jackson.
"This time of the year it's about special teams and goaltending and tonight they were better than us in those two areas."
The Bulldogs sealed the win at 19:25 as Bonis got his second of the game, scoring on a length of the ice shot into an empty net for his 13th of the season and a 3-1 win.
Jackson pulled Summerhays with 1:20 left in the period and Notre Dame put the pressure on. Bryan Rust got his stick on a shot in the final minute that Motte cleared to the left wing corner where Bonis grabbed it and dumped it down the ice.
The Irish were 0-for-4 on the power play and have now gone 13 straight chances over the last three games without scoring with the man advantage. T.J. Tynan had the last Notre Dame power-play goal on Jan. 15 at Bowling Green.
Notre Dame will look to find the answers to their goal-scoring woes as they have scored 11 goals in the month of January. The Irish close out the four-game home stand at 7:05 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 26 versus Ferris State. The game can be seen live on the Notre Dame website via live video streaming at UND.com.
** IRISH NOTES **
** Notre Dame has now lost three straight games to Ferris State since the last Irish win on Dec. 10, 2011.
** Junior left wing Jeff Costello returned to the Notre Dame lineup after missing the last five games due to an injury. He was injured on Jan. 8 at Minnesota.
** After giving up just one power-play goal on 22 chances through the first four games in January, Notre Dame has given up four power-play goals in the last 13 chances over the last three games.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F
Ferris State (13-9-3/11-7-1-0) 0 2 1 - 3
#8/#9 Notre Dame (15-10-0/11-6-0-0) 1 0 0 - 1