OMAHA, Neb. — Sophomore defenseman Juha Uotila’s five-on-three power-play goal with 2:16 left in the game proved to be the game winner as the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks handed Notre Dame a 3-2 loss in front of a season-high crowd of 7,178 at the Qwest Center.
With just over four minutes left in the final period, referee Barry Pochmara whistled Notre Dame’s Jason Paige for holding at 15:57 and less than a minute later called Tom Sawatske for the same infraction giving the Mavericks the two-man advantage.
Nebraska-Omaha right wing Scott Parse worked the puck from the left corner to Uotila who fired through a screen, beating Irish goaltender David Brown at 17:44 for his second goal of the season.
The win for UNO snapped an eight-game winless skid (0-6-2) and improved the Mavericks to 4-7-4 on the season and 3-6-1 in conference play. The loss dropped Notre Dame to 10-3-1 on the year and 5-2-1 in the CCHA.
Notre Dame got a pair of special teams goals in the game with Noah Babin scoring a first-period short-handed goal and Kevin Deeth notching a third-period power-play goal. Nebraska-Omaha got goals from Mark Bernier and Bryan Marshall to offset the Irish goals and set up Uotila’s game winner.
The teams traded first-period goals with the Irish getting on the scoreboard first at 11:11 with Babin’s short-handed tally off a strong rush by the senior defenseman.
With the teams playing four-on-four and the Irish on the attack, Michael Bartlett left the puck for Babin inside the UNO blue line. Babin carried it down the right wing boards as the Maverick penalty came to an end. He cut across the bottom of the right wing circle to the front of the net where he got a shot off on Mavericks’ goaltender Jeremie Dupont. The UNO goaltender made the stop, but Babin controlled the rebound and tucked it in for his first goal of the year.
Nebraska-Omaha came back just 1:35 later at 12:46 on Marshall’s fourth goal of the season. As an Irish penalty to Ryan Thang ended, Marshall played give-and-go with Brandon Scero along the right wing boards. The return pass from Scero went off Marshall’s stick but he was able to bat it out of the air over David Brown’s left shoulder to tie the game at 1-1.
The goal was just the second that Notre Dame has given up in the first period in 14 games this season.
The two teams failed to score in the second period but each goaltender made big saves to keep the score at 1-1. With the Irish on the power play midway through the stanza, Brown was forced to make a pair of big saves on Tomas Klempa and Dan Charleston as the Mavericks were able to pressure the Irish bringing the puck up ice.
The Irish had three power-play chances in the period and Dupont stopped Thang on a one-timer from the slot and Babin from the slot among his nine saves in the period.
In the third period, the Irish fell behind for the first time in the game when Bernier scored on a wrist shot for the left point. The freshman defenseman sailed a shot over Brown’s glove hand into the upper corner of the net at 1:05 of the period for his first of the season, giving the Mavericks a 2-1 lead.
Notre Dame answered with a power-play goal by Deeth at 4:28 of the period to tie the score at 2-2.
After some strong cycling in the left wing corner Erik Condra moved the puck to Thang in the slot and he found Deeth all alone on the right side of the net where he deposited it behind Dupont for his seventh goal of the year.
The score would stay that way until Uotila’s game winner at 17:44.
The Irish out shot Nebraska-Omaha, 27-22, in the game. Brown finished with 19 saves for Notre Dame while Dupont kicked out 25 of the 27 shots that he faced.