FAIRBANKS, Alaska — All season long, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have gotten contributions from different players on different nights on the way to their number-one national ranking.
On Saturday night at the Carlson Center, a pair of sophomores stepped up as the Irish knocked off the Alaska Nanooks, 3-2, in overtime.
Left wing Garrett Regan scored two goals, including the game winner at 1:41 of overtime, and sophomore goaltender Jordan Pearce, making just his third appearance of the season and the first since Jan. 7, stopped 33 of 35 Alaska shots to pick up the victory.
Regan’s game winner came when the Irish turned a long rebound into a three-on-one the other way. Nanook defenseman Tyler Eckford’s shot from the top of the left-wing circle missed the net and wrapped around the boards to Regan. The Irish forward sidestepped a check and moved the puck off the boards at the Alaska blue line.
The trio of Regan, Mark Van Guilder and Wes O’Neill carried the puck into the Alaska zone where Regan dropped the puck to Van Guilder, who waited until the defenseman moved up on him. He returned it to Regan, who snapped a shot over Alaska netminder Wylie Rogers for his 12th goal of the season and a weekend sweep for the Irish.
The victory ran Notre Dame’s unbeaten streak to nine games (7-0-2) and since Dec. 2, the Irish are 15-2-2, with just one loss coming in league play. Notre Dame is now 26-5-3 overall and 20-3-3 in CCHA play. Alaska falls to 9-17-6 on the year and 7-14-5 in conference play. The Irish clinched their first-ever regular-season CCHA title on Friday night.
The Irish also got a goal from Erik Condra on the night and went 2-for-5 on the power play in the win that improved the Irish to 12-4-1 on the road. Kyle Greentree and Trevor Hyatt scored for the Nanooks.
Pearce was tested early and often in the game as Alaska outshot the Irish by a 12-7 margin in the first period, keeping the score even at 0-0 after one period. His 33 saves on the night were the second-highest total of his Notre Dame career, trailing only a 34-save performance at Bowling Green exactly one year ago, on Feb. 17, 2006.
In the second period, Notre Dame finally got its power play in gear, scoring twice.
Condra gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead at 8:29 of the second period, scoring his 13th goal of the season. Defenseman Noah Babin, who had a pair of assists in the game, fired a shot from the right point that Rogers was able to stop. The rebound bounced to Condra, who was camped on the left post, and he flipped it over the sprawling Rogers for the goal.
Notre Dame’s next power-play chance resulted in two goals, one shorthanded for Alaska and one extra-man goal for the Irish.
Alaska tied the game at 13:05 when T.J. Campbell broke up a Notre Dame rush at the Nanook blue line and fed it ahead to Braden Walls. Walls was joined by Kyle Greentree on a two-on-one and carried the puck deep into the Irish zone before feeding across to Greentree, who shoveled it into the goal for his 21st of the season.
Just over a minute later, the Irish capitalized on the power-play chance with Regan putting the Irish back in front at the 14:11 mark. Babin again fired a shot from the right point that Regan appeared to get his stick on and deflect past Rogers in front for his 11th goal of the season.
The score stayed that way until the 17:45 mark of the third period when Hyatt scored his third of the season to tie the game at 2-2. Lucas Burnett’s shot from the right circle was stopped by Pearce, but Hyatt fired the rebound home for the game-tying goal.
For the second night in a row, the Nanooks outshot Notre Dame, this time by a 35-20 margin. Rogers finished with 17 saves. In two games, the Irish killed 13 Alaska power-play chances.