SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Just when it looked like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were going to let a hard-fought battle with Miami slip away, junior center Jason Paige stepped up to score the game-tying goal with just 1:36 left on the clock to give the Irish a 2-2 tie with the No. 3-ranked RedHawks Friday night at the Joyce Center.
With Notre Dame trailing, 2-1, late in the third period, Paige took the puck off the boards after Garrett Regan chipped it ahead in the Miami zone and whipped a shot from the bottom of the right circle past Miami goaltender Charlie Effinger. The goal ended the RedHawks third-period spurt that saw them wipe out a 1-0 Notre Dame lead with a pair of goals less than four minutes apart late in the third.
“I’m just glad the puck went in,” said Paige following the game.
“I’ll take it. The winger (Regan) made a nice chip off the boards and I just got a good shot off. Every now and then you get a good bounce and when you do, you have to put it in the net. I would have hated to lose that one. We played strong early and then sat back in the third period. You can’t do that against good teams.”
The tie, the second in a row for the Irish, extended the team’s unbeaten streak to a season-high four games (2-0-2) and improved Notre Dame to 7-11-3 overall and 5-7-3 in CCHA play. The third-ranked RedHawks are now 0-2-1 in their last three games and go to 14-4-4 on the year and 11-3-2 in the CCHA, good for first place in the league standings.
After a scoreless first period that featured plenty of hitting, Notre Dame got on the scoreboard first when Josh Sciba scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season (seventh on the power
play) at 9:33. Erik Condra made a beautiful cross-ice pass from the left wing boards through traffic in front of the net, and found Sciba all alone in front to give Notre Dame the 1-0 lead.
“I slid down from the point to the front of the net and (Erik) Condra put the puck right on my stick. It was a great pass and I just had to put it in the net.”
The Irish went into the third period looking to protect the 1-0 lead, but the RedHawks came out flying, out-shooting the Irish, 14-6, in the period. Miami could not get the puck past Notre Dame goaltender David Brown until there was just 8:44 left in the game.
All-American defenseman Andy Greene evened the score at 1-1 with his seventh goal of the season at 11:16 when he took a pass from Brad Robbins and ripped a shot over Brown’s stick from the top of the
left faceoff circle.
The RedHawks took their only lead of the night at 15:05 of the final period when Stephen Dennis fired a shot from the left circle that appeared to change directions and redirect over Brown. The goal was Dennis’ first off the season and came on an assist from Greene.
“I thought we played two pretty good periods and then we played on our heels in the third period,” said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. “That’s a first-place team and I knew they were going to come at us. We didn’t protect the puck very well in the third period and they got some rushes off of turnovers.”
He added, “It was important that we came back the way we did in that period. The next step is learning to win these tight, one-goal games.”
The tie was the second this season for the Irish versus the No. 3-ranked RedHawks, giving the Irish confidence to continue their modest unbeaten streak.
“I think we have confidence to play against the better teams,” said Paige. “The next step for us is to learn to play three full periods. We can’t sit back against the good teams. We have to play the way we
did in the first two periods tonight.”
On the night, Miami out shot Notre Dame, 26-22. Brown finished the game with 24 saves while Effinger had 20 stops in the RedHawks’ goal. Notre Dame was 1-for-7 on the power play while Miami