SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The seventh ranked Notre Dame Fightin Irish beat the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, 5-4, overcoming a three goal deficit in a wild contest that featured all kinds of strange bounces.
The Irish scored the game winner with only 2:06 left to play on Garrett Regans fourth goal of the season. Regan got his stick on a shot from Irish forward Mark Van Guilder, and the puck deflected off Maverick goaltender Jeremie Duponts glove and into the back of the net.
While Regan provided the game winner, the key to Notre Dames victory was a four goal outburst in just over six minutes to turn a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead.
The first came on the power play off the stick of Kevin Deeth with less than three minutes remaining in the second period. Deeth received a nice one-touch pass from Erik Condra to put him on a breakaway from the top of the circles. He deked Dupont to the ice, and shot a backhand that barely inched past the Maverick goaltender to give Deeth his third goal in as many games.
The Irish inched closer when Christian Hanson was the beneficiary of a bizarre bounce with just under 90 seconds to play in the period. Hanson fired a dump-in shot off the glass, but the puck hit a partition in the glass and headed straight for the net. Dupont had already started to skate behind the net to play the dump-in, and was unable to recover.
Dupont took the loss while making 20 saves on the night, while Irish goaltender Jordan Pearce recorded the victory despite a season worst four goals allowed on only 18 shots.
Erik Condra tied the score less than a minute into the third with a power play goal. He deflected a nifty pass from Brett Blatchford over the shoulder of Dupont to tie the score at three. The goal, along with an earlier assist, extended Condras point scoring streak to six games.
The comeback was complete when Dan Kissel scored on a great individual effort 2:21 into the period to put Notre Dame up 4-3. Kissel skated through the slot and managed to backhand the puck into the net while being dragged down by a Maverick defender. Hanson and Evan Rankin recorded assists on the goal.
Nebraska-Omaha would not go quietly, however, as they tied the game once again just under eight minutes into the period. Nick Von Borken, a freshman defenseman, set up the goal when he faked a slap shot, walked around an Irish defender, and fed Mick Lawrence in front of a wide open goal for Lawrences eighth goal of the year.
When asked about overcoming the deficit, both Regan and Irish coach Jeff Jackson were quick to express caution about the slow start to go along with any satisfaction with the comeback.
We have some confidence that we can come back, but the concern is that we put ourselves in that situation, Regan said. We need to focus on coming out ready to play so that we dont put ourselves into that situation.
Jackson echoed Regans concerns, remarking Im responsible for them to be ready. When were giving out a three goal lead, I have to take responsibility for that. I do give them credit [for the comeback], its important to show that you have the confidence to come back when you fall behind.
Until the outburst, the Nebraska-Omaha appeared to be controlling the play, outskating and outhitting the Irish through most of the first 37 minutes of the game.
The Mavericks got on the board first with a power play goal just under five minutes into the contest. With Notre Dames Christian Hanson in the penalty box for interference, Maverick junior forward Dan Charleston controlled the puck inside the Irish zone and fed a pass to Tomas Klempa at the side of the net. Klempa quickly slid the puck across the crease to Joey Martin, who tucked it into an empty net for his first collegiate goal.
Martins goal was the sole tally of the period, as the Mavericks took the 1-0 lead into the locker room. Jeremie Dupont was solid in net, stopping nine shots in the period, including saves on point blank chances from Dan VeNard, Evan Rankin, and Kevin Deeth.
Martin scored his second goal of the game just over halfway through a wild second period. The Maverick winger once again had a tap in after J.P. Platishas pass from behind the net was deflected behind Jordan Pearce by the stick of Brock Sheahan.
The Mavericks increased their lead to 3-0 less than two minutes later when JJ Koehler netted his second goal of the season. Koehler found himself open in front of the net on a pass from Bryan Marshall, and his quick shot trickled by Pearce and into the net.
Notre Dame and Nebraska-Omaha conclude their season series Saturday night at 7:05 P.M. when the two teams face off at the Joyce Center.