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January 26, 2013

Fifth straight loss for Irish

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Tacking another loss onto a dismal stretch can change perception for the eighth-ranked Notre Dame hockey team.

Since beginning the second half of the season the Irish have lost six of seven games, including five straight after a 3-1 setback at the hands of Ferris State on Friday night. While they entered the weekend atop the league standings, a loss coupled with wins around the league dropped them into fourth.

Three of the losses in this stretch have come at home with one game remaining in the Ferris State series, set for 7:05 p.m. tonight.

"We've gotta be better," head coach Jeff Jackson said. "It's plain and simple. I thought we were better tonight than we've been in the last three weeks. We had a number of good scoring chances and couldn't finish. They finished on their chances and we didn't. It was pretty simple."

Again Notre Dame (15-10-0, 11-6-0-0 CCHA) staked itself to a lead only to let it disappear.

Anders Lee scores his 14th goal of the season at 6:34 of the first period, cleaning up the rebound of a Sam Calabrese shot. Calabrese now has 12 assists. Mario Lucia picked up the other assist, his sixth of the season.

But after starting the season 13-0-0 when scoring the first goal the Irish have now lost four straight times when grabbing an early lead.

"It's about getting that next goal," Jackson said. "It's certainly a benefit to get the first goal. In most cases it works in your favor. But we've not been able to come back and get that next goal. Or even if they tie it, get that next goal. We have to try and generate scoring chances. When you score a goal you usually get some momentum. You have to take advantage of that momentum."

Ferris State (13-9-3, 11-7-1-0 CCHA) started its own positive turn with a power-play goal at 3:18 of the second period. Kyle Bonis scored the first of his two goals by beating Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays, who finished with 22 saves, in the five hole.

Around nine minutes later Dom Panetta scored his second goal of the season to make it a 2-1 Ferris State lead.

Notre Dame appeared to rally for parts of the second period with scoring chances of its own, but hit a cross bar and two pipes along the way. Ferris State goaltender CJ Motte held up with 32 saves total, including 16 in the second period alone.

Four man advantage chances came and went without an Irish goal as well, making it 14 straight power plays without a goal.

"Any time you're getting chances in hockey it's a good thing," Calabrese said. "We ran into a great goaltender and, like you said, we did hit some posts. Maybe your first reaction might be deflating but I think going into the third period guys were pretty positive. We were starting out on the power play and we thought the whole game we were in a position to win it."

More opportunities to tie the game slipped away in the third period until Bonis scores his second goal of the game and 13th of the season, this one into an empty net, at 19:25 to make it a 3-1 final score.

Now the series finale remains before Notre Dame hits the road for a series at Ohio State next weekend.

"I can't build confidence for them," Jackson said. "I'm trying to remain as positive as I can. We had a good week of practice. We were hard on them in the early stage of the week, worked on some things that we needed to do better, which I thought we did."

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