Tough loss tonight, especially after controlling the pace and flow of the game. The Nanooks outshot ND 35-22, and scoring chance after scoring chance kept finding their way into the glove of Mike Johnson.
On to the recap...
The Nanooks came out of the gate firing. A penalty to Cody Kunyk would put the guys back on their heels a bit as Notre Dame got a bit of pressure. The Nanooks killed the opportunity though and got right back to it. Kunyk broke out of the zone with Ronnie Meyers in tow. Kunyk tried to feed it to Meyers just inside of the blueline, but the pass was just behind him, and resulted offsides. Gens also had a quality chance that actually faked out the ref. Pinching in to grab the loose puck, he shot it just wide left, but the ref thought it went in, and signaled goal very briefly.
Into the second period, the 'Nooks still had momentum going and a few scoring chances stymied by Notre Dame's netminder, and a pair off the post. After maintaining the 6-2 shot advantage through the first 14 minutes of the 2nd period, ND forward Riley Sheahan paid a visit to the sin bin for goaltender interference after shoving Aaron Gens to the ice in a scuffle in front of the crease, sending the 'Nooks to the power play. Turns out that's not where they wanted to be, going against the team leading the nation in shorthanded goals. Aaaaaaaand they got another one. Frosh forward Anders Lee tallied his first (surprisingly) shortie of the season in a 2 on 1 with Ryan Guentzel. Ryan lead the play, and saucered the puck over the sprawling defender's stick to Lee, who found an opening and beat Greenham to bump ND's total shorthanded tally to 12 on the season.
As the Nanooks pressured the zones towards the end of the third, Notre Dame's Nick Larson saw the turnover coming as the Nanooks tried to transition and hung back and took a feed from Ryan Guentzel, and found himself alone with Greenham in front of the crease. Larson's patience with the puck paid off, scoring the eventual game winning goal with 1:15 left in regulation.
But with Greenham out of the net, and the extra attacker on the ice, Mike Johnson's shutout wasn't going to come easy. With the 'Nooks in desparation mod, pucks went flying, players were diving, and pucks were bouncing. When Aaron Gens found the loose puck pinching down, the puck gleaned off a diving ND forward's shoulder and deflected just high enough to sneak into the net under the crossbar with 23 seconds on the clock.
With net empty and the faceoff at center ice, the Hunchbacks won the draw and sent it in, and hung around for a few before the 'Nooks got it back. But by that time, it was too late, and the clock had struck 0. Unfortunate too, as the majority of the game was controlled by Alaska. That shortie really took a lot out of the spark from the 'Nooks players. They would eventually regain it, but it was too late. The 3rd period was dominated by the 'Nooks, outshooting those bell tower freaks 13-4 in the last 20 minutes. But an unfortunate turnover can change everything, and it did. Although the score might indicate otherwise, the Nanooks did apply some significant offensive pressure. The one thing I thought lacked was sustaining pressure. But the 'Nooks still had their chances, just a hot goaltender kept them out of the net.
With the loss, Western Michigan has now pulled ahead of us, dropping the 'Nooks to 6th, one point ahead of the Buckeyes and the Wildcats in the CCHA standings. Tomorrow will be another chance for the 'Nooks to rebound to start pulling themselves back up into the mix. Tomorrow's game will be at 3:05PM AKST.
Irish Win Hard Fought Battle with Alaska, 2-1 (UND.com)