The Notre Dame Fighting Irish ran their current winning streak to seven games on Saturday night as Jordan Pearce stopped all 16 shots he faced and Irish special teams collected two short-handed goals and a power-play tally on the way to a 5-0 blanking of the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks at the Joyce Center.
Mark Van Guilder and Ryan Thang scored the short-handed goals while freshman defenseman Ian Cole scored on the power play. Christian Hanson and defenseman Teddy Ruth also got on the scoreboard for the Irish.
Notre Dame out shot Nebraska-Omaha by a 24-16 margin with Pearce getting his second shutout of the year and the fourth of his career. Eric Aarnio made 19 saves in goal for the Mavericks.
The victory moved Notre Dame into sole possession of first place in the CCHA, two points ahead of Miami as the RedHawks were idle this weekend. The Irish are now 14-4-0 on the year and 10-2-0 in conference play. UNO falls to 5-7-1 on the season and 4-7-1 in league play. The seven-game winning streak is the longest for the Irish since they reeled off seven straight from Dec. 2, 2006 to Jan. 5, 2007 last season.
After spotting R.P.I. last Saturday and the Mavericks a 3-0 lead in the last two games, the Irish were looking to get off to a fast start. It looked like those plans would be derailed as Evan Rankin was called for hooking just 1:59 into the game, giving UNO a power-play.
Off a face-off in the Irish zone, defenseman Kyle Lawson wrapped the puck around the boards and it kicked out to center ice where Kevin Deeth picked it up through center ice with Van Guilder. The two broke in two-on-one with Deeth feeding the final pass to Van Guilder who tucked it past Aarnio at 3:31 for his eighth goal of the year and his first short-handed tally.
The Irish had the territorial advantage in the first, out shooting the Mavericks by a 12-4 margin but led just 1-0 after one period.
Nebraska-Omaha turned the tide in the second period, taking an 11-5 advantage in shots only to see Notre Dame get the only goal of the period at 17:25.
Hanson, who would get the goal, his fourth of the year, won a face off on the right side back to defenseman Brock Sheahan. Sheahan moved it to the left point where Ruth fired a low hard shot at the Maverick goal. Hanson moved to the front to screen the goaltender and had the puck deflect off his skate and inside the left post to give the Irish a 2-0 lead heading into the second intermission.
For the second night in a row, Notre Dame ran off three goals in the third period to seal the victory.
Ruth, who had not scored a point in his first 17 collegiate games, scored his first goal of the year, giving him a two-point game, just 48 seconds into the third period. Garrett Regan won a draw back to Ruth on the right point and the freshman blue liner slapped one past Aarnio to build the lead to 3-0.
With Christian Minella off for slashing at 13:32 of the third, Notre Dame's penalty killers would go back to work. This time it was Thang who scored as he stripped the Mavericks of the puck at the blue line and moved in on Aarnio, snapping a wrist shot from between the circles over his glove hand for his team-high 10th goal of the year. The shorty was Thang's first of the year and second of his career.
Cole would close out the scoring at 19:00 when he scored on the power play, picking up his second goal of the season as he beat Aarnio from the point off an assist to Brett Blatchford.
The Irish were 1-for-9 on the power play while killing off seven Nebraska-Omaha power-play chances while getting the two short-handed tallies.
The Irish now close out the first half of the season on the road next weekend when they travel to Princeton, N.J., to face the Princeton Tigers in a pair of games on Dec. 7-8. Game time both nights is 7:05 p.m. The team will then break for finals and the Christmas holidays until Dec. 29 when they travel to Tampa, Fla., for the Lightning College Hockey Classic.