After going four games without a victory (0-3-1) and scoring just five goals in that span, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish needed to find their goal scoring touch to get back to where they were prior to the Christmas break.
Sophomore Ryan Thang had the answer as he scored a pair of first-period power-play goals to help stake Notre Dame to a 3-0 first-period lead as the Irish cruised to a 6-1 win over Bowling Green in front of a sellout crowd of 2,857 at the Joyce Center on Friday night.
Thang, who had three points on the night, saw linemate Erik Condra collect three points (one goal and two assists) on the night, while Mark Van Guilder, Calle Ridderwall and Christian Hanson scored single goals in the win. John Mazzei had the lone Bowling Green goal on the night.
The win improved Notre Dame to 19-9-1 overall and 12-6-1 in the CCHA. The Falcons saw their record go to 12-11-0 on the year and 9-8-0 in conference play. The victory also extended the Irish unbeaten streak against Bowling Green to 11 games (10-0-1).
Notre Dame came out flying in the first period, putting pressure on goaltender Nick Eno from the opening face off. The Irish would out shoot Bowling Green, 16-2, in the opening period. It would take until the 8:23 mark for Notre Dame to finally beat the freshman goaltender.
Coming into Friday night's game, Notre Dame had gone eight games without a power-play goal (0-for-38 in that span). Thang ended that streak with a power-play goal at 8:23 when he knocked down a Bowling Green clearing attempt and fired the puck past Eno from the slot for his 13th goal of the year. Dan Kissel and Condra each picked up assists as the got off shots on goal.
The lead would go to 2-0 at 17:24 when Condra scored his 11th of the season when he ripped a wrist shot from the hash marks on the right circle over Eno's glove hand for his second point of the night. Defenseman Dan VeNard had the lone assist.
The Irish would get their second power-play chance late in the period and Thang would get his second power-play goal of the night at 18:58 when he whipped a shot past Eno for his 14th goal of the season.
The Falcons found their legs in the second period, taking a 14-8 edge in shots, but it would be Notre Dame that scored the first two goals of the period.
The Irish built the lead to 4-0 when Van Guilder snapped his 10-game goal-less drought at the 6:00 minute mark. The senior center took a pass from Ben Ryan in the left corner. He walked the puck toward the goal and tried to center it to Thang coming down the slot. A Falcon defender blocked the pass with Van Guilder getting the puck back on the goal line to the right of Eno. He slid the puck along the goal line, tucking it between the left post and Eno's pad for his ninth goal of the year.
Less than three minutes later, the lead would got to 5-0 as Calle Ridderwall wrapped a loose puck around Eno for his second goal of the season at 8:36. Brock Sheahan started the play at the left point with a shot that was blocked and found its way to the slot. Right wing Ryan Guentzel held off a Falcon defender and got a shot off that Eno was able to stop. Ridderwall grabbed the rebound and reached around Eno to tuck the puck home.
Goaltender Jordan Pearce saw his shutout bid come to an end at 17:49 of the period when John Mazzei scored off an Irish turnover inside the Notre Dame blue line.
Jimmy Spratt replaced Eno in goal for the third period and gave up one goal on the eight shots he faced. Christian Hanson closed out the scoring at 2:04 of the third period with the lone goal of the final stanza as he converted assists from Evan Rankin and Garrett Regan for his eighth goal of the season.
For the night, Notre Dame out shot Bowling Green by a 32-21 margin. Pearce finished with 20 saves on the night while Eno had 19 in 40:00 minutes and Spratt had seven in the final period.
The Irish were 2-for-3 with the power play while the Falcons were 0-for-6. Friday's game saw the two teams combine for 23 penalties and 97 minutes. That included a third period that saw Bowling Green have seven penalties for 38 minutes and Notre Dame nine for 45 minutes.
The two teams will meet at the Bowling Green Ice Arena on Saturday night. Game time is 7:05 p.m.