SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Fans of high-scoring hockey should have enjoyed Friday night’s game at Notre Dame’s Joyce Center — unless, of course, they were Notre Dame fans.
Alaska-Fairbanks and Notre Dame combined for 12 goals on the night with the visiting Nanooks coming out on top of a 7-5 final verdict.
Aaron Voros and Cam Keith scored two goals each and team captain Bobby Andrews kicked in a four-point night with a goal and three assists to offset Irish offensive performaces by David Inman (goal, three assists), Connor Dunlop (goal, two assists) and a career-best, three-point night (goal and two assists) for defenseman Evan Nielsen.
The loss drops the Irish to 9-13-5 (7-10-4 CCHA) while the Nanooks, ranked 14th in the nation, move six points ahead of Notre Dame in the standings with an 11-10-2 (15-10-2 overall)
“We really got killed on the rush tonight,” said Irish head coach Dave Poulin. “We were extremely careless with the puck. Our carelessness is baffling. The puck is so valuable and its not treated that way.”
Alaska-Fairbanks came at the Irish hard right out of the gate. Keith took a long lead pass off the glass from defenseman Daniel Carriere and beat Irish goaltender Morgan Cey on a breakaway just 31 seconds into the game for his first of two on the night.
Andrews, who was a thorn in Notre Dame’s side all evening flipped a rebound over Cey at 2:19 for his eighth goal of the season.
Dunlop equalled his career-high by scoring his seventh goal of the season at 13:39 to make it a 2-1 game. The junior center picked up the rebound of an Inman shot, skated in front of the goal and tucked a shot past Nanook goaltender Preston McKay to jump-start the Irish offense.
Inman tied the game at two with his career-high 14th goal at 17:17. With the Irish on the power play, Inman blasted a shot from the right point that beat McKay for seventh power
play goal of the season.
The Irish looked like they had stemmed the tide when Evan Nielsen scored just 15 seconds into the second period. Nielsen took a feed from Dunlop in the right wing circle and whipped a shot past McKay for his fifth goal of the season.
But, that would be Notre Dame’s lone lead of the night as the Nanooks roared back with three third-period goals. Tom Herman scored on the power play at 4:05 to tie the game at 3-3.
Voros collected his two goals in a span of 4:03 getting his 12th at 7:42 and his 13th of the year at 11:45 to make it 5-3.
Voros’s second goal of the night chased Cey — marking the second consecutive game the freshman has not finished. Junior Tony Zasowski played the final 28:15 of the game. Cey finished the night with 22 saves.
The Irish kept battling back. Yan Stastny scored for the second game in a row as he scored from the high slot just 45 seconds into the third period to cut the lead to 5-4, but, with the Irish on a power play, Jared Sylvestre broke their backs as he combined on a two-on-one with Andrews and beat Zasowski from the right faceoff dot for a shorthanded goal at 8:35.
Rob Globke scored on a breakaway goal at 13:42 for the Irish to cut the lead to 6-5, but Keith closed the scoring at 18:57 when he scored into an empty net for the 7-5 final score.
“They never quit tonight, they kept coming back,” said Poulin.
On the night, the Nanooks outshot Notre Dame 39-36. McKay made 31 saves for Alaska- Fairbanks, while Zasowski finished with ten on the night to go with Cey’s 22.
The two teams close out the two-game series on Saturday at the Joyce Center with faceoff set for 7:05 p.m.