It took senior right wing Kevin Nugent 64 games to get his first career goal but he picked the right time to do score it. Nugent's second-period goal snapped a 2-2 tie and proved to be the game winner as Notre Dame snapped its five-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over Ferris State in front of a sellout crowd at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Saturday night.
The win, just the second in January for Notre Dame, improves the Irish to 16-10-0 overall and 12-6-0-0 in the CCHA. They moved into third place in the conference standings and are three points behind first-place Western Michigan and two behind second-place Miami. Ferris State, now 13-10-3 overall and 11-8-1-0 in the CCHA are in fourth, two points behind the Irish.
"We really needed to respond tonight," said head coach Jeff Jackson.
"I was getting into their wheelhouse during one of the time outs in the second period. We were turning the puck over too much. We did a good job early in the game and then we started turning it over. That's when the momentum changed back in their favor."
For the fifth straight night, Notre Dame scored the first goal of the game with Gerths getting this one for the only marker of the first period at 5:53.
With the puck deep in the left corner, Nugent came out with it and sent it to Stephen Johns (two assists) on the right point. The big defenseman drilled a shot on goal that Gerths was able to deflect past Ferris State netminder Charles Williams for his fourth goal of the season.
"Those guys (Gerths and Nugent) deserved to be stars of the game. They battled all night," said Jackson.
"Those contributions from those guys were huge. Thomas DiPauli's goal was huge for us. It gave us some life."
As has been the case during the recent losing streak, the Irish struggled to get that second goal of the night and the Bulldogs took advantage, scoring twice to build a 2-1 lead.
Ouellette evened the score just 19 seconds into the second period on a power play as he took a pass in the slot from defenseman Jason Binkley and made a move on Steven Summerhays for his eighth goal of the season to make it 1-1.
At the 6:45 mark of the second, Binkley hauled down Anders Lee as he drove on goal and was awarded a penalty shot. The senior captain was stopped on a pad save by Williams.
Ferris State took advantage of a Notre Dame turnover in the neutral zone and turned it into the Bulldogs second goal of the night as Kane and Matthew Kirzinger combined on a passing play with Kane finishing the play by beating Summerhays from the low slot for his seventh of the season at 10:03 to give FSU the 2-1 lead.
Just two minutes later, DiPauli answered back to with his fourth goal of the year that tied the game, 2-2, at 12:03.
Ferris State dumped the puck into the Notre Dame zone and defenseman Shayne Taker picked it up and moved it up the right side to Johns. The junior defenseman hit DiPauli in stride at the Bulldogs' blue line and he raced past the defenseman before snapping a wrist shot past Williams from between the hash marks to even the score.
Mario Lucia had the first three-point game of his career to help the Irish to a 5-2 win over Ferris State.
Nugent put Notre Dame ahead to stay at 14:49 with his first ever as he snapped a wrist shot from the left wing circle that beat Williams to his glove side and just inside the far post to make it 3-2.
"It came at the end of a shift and Mario (Lucia) chipped it into the zone," said Nugent.
"I just got it and closed my eyes and took a shot like I have been doing the past four years here and this one happened to go in. I was just happy to put our team ahead. We needed a big win tonight and it was nice to contribute."
"I'm real happy for Kevin (Nugent) to get his first goal," said Jackson.
"He's been a loyal warrior. He loves Notre Dame. He's a legacy as his dad played here. Just listen to that locker room and you can see how well liked a kid he is by his teammates."
With the momentum back in Notre Dame's favor, the Irish offense began clicking.
Lucia, who had a three-point night (1g, 2a), pounced on a Ferris State turnover in the slot and whipped a shot past Williams just 57 seconds into the third period for his eighth of the season to make it 4-2.
The Irish then closed out the scoring at 17:39 as Tynan scored on a five-on-three power-play goal for his eighth of the year and the 5-2 final. The man-advantage goal snapped a 0-for-14 streak on the power play over the last four games for Notre Dame.
On the night, Notre Dame out shot Ferris State, 29-24. Summerhays finished with 22 saves while Williams had 24 stops in the Bulldogs' cage. The Irish were 1-for-2 on the power play while Ferris State was 1-for-3.
Notre Dame takes to the road next weekend as the Irish travel to Columbus, Ohio on Feb. 1-2 for a pair of games with the Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena.
** IRISH NOTES **
** Anders Lee's penalty shot was the first for a Notre Dame player since Riley Sheahan scored on one versus Alaska on Nov. 11, 2011 in a 5-4 win. It was the third penalty shot at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Boston College's Chris Kreider had the other on Nov. 18, 2011, scoring on Mike Johnson in the 3-2 overtime win for Notre Dame.
** Mario Lucia's three-point game (goal, two assists) was a career best for the freshman left wing and was the fourth multiple-point game of his rookie season.
** Kevin Nugent, Jr.'s dad, Kevin Nugent, played hockey at Notre Dame from 1974-78 and in 131 career games had 54 goals and 75 assists for 129 career points.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F
Ferris State (13-10-3/11-8-1-0) 0 2 0 - 2
#8/#7 Notre Dame (16-10-0/12-6-0-0) 1 2 2 - 5