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January 27, 2013

Losing skid halts at five

Kevin Nugent celebrates his game winning goal.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- After five straight losses the Notre Dame hockey team turned to some unexpected contributors Saturday night.

Three goals came from the third or fourth lines, including the game-winner by Kevin Nugent, as the Irish snapped their losing streak with a 5-2 victory over Ferris State to salvage a series split and pick up their second win since starting the season back up after the holiday break.

"When things go bad they tend to go bad," head coach Jeff Jackson said. "They tend to go bad until something happens that changes it. Maybe tonight it was that four-on-four goal by (Thomas) DiPauli then Nugent's goal. That was maybe the turning point for us to get back at least heading in the right direction."

David Gerths staked Notre Dame (16-10-0, 12-6-0-0) to a 1-0 lead at 5:53 of the first period with his fourth goal of the season, deflecting a Stephen Johns shot past Ferris State goaltender Charles Williams. Nugent picked up the other assist.

Scoring first put the Irish out front early for the fifth consecutive game, all the others ending in a loss.

Ferris State (13-10-3, 11-8-1-0) rallied after the first intermission. Travis Ouellette scored his eighth goal of the season 19 seconds into the second period on a power play that carried over from the first. Cory Kane then made it a 2-1 Ferris State lead at 10:03.

"We needed to respond," Jackson said. "I sensed the same fate coming. Disrespectfully, when they were announcing the military member I was getting into their wheelhouse on the bench just because we were turning the puck over. We did a really good job early in the game then all the sudden we started turning the puck over.

"That's when the game changed back in their favor."

After surrendering the lead Notre Dame rattled off three straight goals for the final margin. While goaltender Steve Summerhays held up, making 22 saves total.

DiPauli, a freshman winger, scored at 12:03 of the second period to tie it back up a 2-2. Johns collected his second assist of the game and defenseman Shayne Taker is eighth of the season.

Not quite three minutes later Nugent, a senior, cashed in the first goal of his career for a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission. Nugent went top shelf through a check.

"To be honest with you, I was just happy to put our team ahead," said Nugent, whose father played at Notre Dame as well and attended the game. "We've obviously been through a tough stretch now. And I know that's what I'm supposed to be saying to you guys right now but that's the honest truth. That was a big goal for us and we needed to come out here and get a big win tonight. I'm glad I could help contribute on the scoreboard."

Momentum continued for the Irish with two more goals in the third period - Mario Lucia scored his eighth of the season less than a minute in and T.J. Tynan took advantage of a power-play opportunity at the 17:39 mark, cinching the 5-2 final.

Previous to Tynan's goal Notre Dame had been scoreless on their last 16 chances with the man advantage.

"We didn't have many power plays but we have to really look," Jackson said. "Hopefully we get Mike Voran back here soon. Maybe get back to the units that we have and see if we can't get some success."

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