The Yale Bulldogs scored three unanswered goals in the second period and for the second night in a row rode the stellar goaltending of freshman Josh Gartner for a 3-1 win over Notre Dame in a game played at the Allstate Arena Saturday night.
The Irish “home” game at the suburban Chicago arena was the first collegiate hockey game played in Chicago since 1996 when the University of Illinois-Chicago dropped its program. Saturday’s game was played in front of a crowd of 5,091 and was a homecoming for Notre Dame’s five Illinois natives – seniors Michael Chin, Evan Nielsen and Tony Zasowski along with junior Brett Lebda and sophomore Joe Zurenko.
After a scoreless first period, Yale got on the board early in the second period when Joe Zappala beat Zasowski, making his first start since Nov. 30, with a wrister from the bottom of the left-wing circle that deflected off the crossbar and in at 3:10 for his sixth of the season.
Until that point the Irish had taken the play to Yale, but just like Friday night’s first goal, it proved to be the undoing of the Irish.
“We don’t handle the first goal against very well. We let down and that turns the momentum of the game,” said Irish coach Dave Poulin.
Yale built the lead to 3-0 as the Bulldogs scored twice in a 51 second span. Mike Klema and Zappala combined on a two-on-one with Zappala sliding the puck to Klema who snapped it behind Zasowski at 8:29 for his second goal of the season and the eventual game winner.
Nick Deschenes followed up with his fifth of the season at 9:18 to cap the Bulldogs scoring and from there, Yale turned things over to Gartner who finished with 35 stops on the night, including 14 in the third period.
The Irish broke the rookie’s shutout bid just 36 seconds into the third period. John Wroblewski stopped a Yale clearing attempt along the left wing boards. The senior left wing moved the puck back to Brett Lebda who fired from the left point. Rob Globke got his stick on the puck at the hashmarks and deflected the puck behind Gartner for his career-best 18th goal of the season, but that would be all the Irish would get.
For the night, the Irish outshot Yale, 36-34. Zasowski finished the night with 31 saves for the Irish.
“Our defense did a good job in front of me,” said Zasowski, the Irish senior goaltender. “They kept the front cleared and gave me a good chance to see the shots. I thought they also did a good job of clearing the rebounds. It’s just those short lapses that have hurt us.”
The loss extends the Irish winless skid to five games (0-4-1) and sees Notre Dame fall two games under .500 (9-11-4) for the first time this season. Yale improves to 10-8-0 on the year.
Things don’t get any easier for Notre Dame. The Irish play their final 12 games versus CCHA teams in the heat of the battle for home ice in the playoffs. Michigan State is next on the docket for Notre Dame as the Spartans visit the Joyce Center on Fri.-Sat., Jan. 24-25 for a pair of 7:05 games.