Jan. 31, 2004
Notre Dame, Ind. - Notre Dame defenseman Brett Lebda scored with 28.5 seconds left on the clock to give the Fighting Irish a 2-2 tie versus the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks on Saturday night at the Joyce Center.
Lebda's goal came with Notre Dame goaltender David Brown pulled in favor of a sixth attacker as time ran down with the Nanooks leading 2-1. Neil Komadoski took a shot from the center point that was blocked in front and popped into the air by the right wing circle. Lebda took a baseball swing at the waist-high puck and slapped it past UAF goaltender Preston McKay to give the Irish the tie.
Both teams had chances in the overtime period with Notre Dame's Rob Globke coming closest to scoring when he snapped a shot from the slot just over the crossbar.
The tie gives the Irish a three-point weekend versus Alaska Fairbanks and moves their record to 13-9-4 on the year and 9-8-3 in the CCHA. The Nanooks are now 12-13-1 overall and 11-10-1 in league play and remain two points ahead of the Irish in the league standings with Notre Dame having a pair of games in hand.
"Anytime you score in the last minute of play, it's a good tie," said Irish head coach Dave Poulin after the game.
"We took three of four points from a very good team this weekend. I thought we played real well tonight. We got good goaltending, our special teams got a power play goal and we stopped them three times. We got a strong effort from everyone."
The Irish came out strong early in the game getting several chances early that McKay, who would finish the game with 45 saves was able to stop. The stanza had plenty of end-to-end action but no goals as McKay made 12 stops and David Brown 10 for the Irish.
Notre Dame broke the scoring drought at 17:53 of the second period when Jason Paige scored on a four-on-three Irish power play. Komadoski started the play as McKay stopped his blast from the point. The rebound came out to page at the top of the crease. He out waited McKay moving to the right and flipping the puck over the UAF goaltender for his sixth goal of the season.
The Nanooks evened the score at 1-1 just 56 seconds later when Cam Keith forced an Irish turnover and got the puck to Aaron Voros at the side of the goal. Voros tucked the puck inside the post for his 11th goal of the season.
UAF would go ahead 2-1 at 9:56 of the third period when Keith got control of the puck behind the Notre Dame net and slid it in front to Curtis Fraser who whipped a shot past Brown for his 11th of the season.
That set up Lebda's late heroics that salvaged the Irish a tie from what looked like a loss.
"That was a big goal for us. We really worked hard tonight. That's why I went to the bench to celebrate with the team. Everyone gave a great effort tonight and it's a big point for us to get," said Lebda following the game.
For the night, the Irish poured a season-high 47 shots on goal while Alaska Fairbanks had 31 on the night. McKay's 45 saves are the most any goaltender has made versus Notre Dame this season. Brown made 29 saves in making his third consecutive start in the Irish goal.
The Irish now have eight games remaining (all CCHA contests) on the schedule. They return to action next weekend, Feb. 6-7 versus Miami. Friday's game will be played at Goggin Arena in Oxford, Ohio (7:35 p.m.) while Saturday's game is at the Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati with a 5:05 starting time.
** Jason Paige's second-period power-play goal was the first Irish goal scored by someone other than Rob Globke, Aaron Gill or Mike Walsh since Jan. 10 versus Bowling Green when Brett Lebda scored at 16:11 of the second period. That covered a span of just over six games.
** The Irish need just one more home win to reach the 300 mark for the history of the Joyce Center. The Irish are 8-1-2 at home this season and 299-245-42 (.549) all-time at the Joyce Center.
**The overtime game was Notre Dame's sixth of the season. The Irish are 0-2-4 in those games. In their last 14 overtime games, the Irish are 1-3-10. The last time they won a regular-season overtime game was Jan. 25, 2002, a 4-3 win at Miami.