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January 18, 2013

Late goal dooms reeling Irish

More than once Friday the Notre Dame hockey team felt it could overcome deficits and snatch victory when it seemed less than likely.

Twice in the third period the Irish tied Alaska, only to allow a back-breaking goal with three seconds left for a 5-4 final. Notre Dame could do nothing but vent frustration in the dressing room afterward. Another loss makes three straight and four of five since returning from holiday break.

“It’s tough when we fight back and fight back then we make poor decisions with the puck and it ends up in our net,” said head coach Jeff Jackson. “That’s what it boiled down to.”

Notre Dame (15-8-0, 11-4-0-0 CCHA) started with a lead thanks to captain Anders Lee, who scored his 13th goal of the season at 5:27 of the first period.

But like almost every goal the Irish scored, Alaska had a quick answer. Garrick Perry scored his first of the season at 7:03 of the first period to tie the game. Just 45 seconds later Nik Yaremchuk made it a 2-1 lead the Nanooks would take into the first intermission.

Most of the second period idled by until Andy Taranto made it a 3-1 Alaska lead at 17:02.

Forty seconds after that goal Notre Dame started its comeback attempt when Austin Wuthrich scored his second of the season, cleaning up a rebound in front of the net. Lee assisted for the 100th point of his career.

“We got pucks to the net when we needed to,” Lee said. “We were getting pucks behind their defense a lot. We were doing pretty well on the cycle. For the most part, it never felt like we were down in that game. On the scoreboard we were but we never felt that.”

Alaska (9-8-4, 7-7-3-1 CCHA) carried a 3-2 lead into the second intermission and over halfway through the third period. T.J. Tynan tied the game up with his ninth goal of the season, this one coming short handed.

Sam Calabrese corralled the puck in the Irish end and hit Tynan with a pass at the opposite blue line. Tynan took advantage the breakaway situation by beating John Keeney over the blocker.

Keeney finished with 24 saves.

Again Alaska had a quick response. Thirty-nine seconds after Tynan scored Jarret Granberg scored a power-play goal to make it a 4-3 Nanooks lead at 11:16 of the third period.

“Both times when we scored the tying goal I thought we were gonna win the game,” Jackson said. “But then we make a bonehead play and it’s in our net.”

Once more Notre Dame would tie it with a Mario Lucia goal, his sixth of the season, at 15:58. But just when it appeared the game would head to overtime Alaska scored again.

Granberg netted his second of the game with three seconds remaining. Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays, who made 22 saves, stopped two shots but couldn’t corral a third as Granberg crashed into the crease.

The series finale is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Saturday night.

“I don’t even know if we lost three in a row last year,” Lee said. “It’s just something that we’re not used to. It’s something that we don’t face often. So, (tonight) is huge. We’ve gotta get out of this.”

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