Hockey: ND ties exhibition against USA U-18
Isaac Lorton | Sunday, October 7, 2012
In a tight contest, the No. 10 Irish had to come from behind in the third period to earn a 1-1 tie in an exhibition against the United States under-18 team Sunday evening.
The USA U-18 national team came out for the first period aggressively and with something to prove. Notre Dame had to match this intensity, while figuring out what lines played well together.
“[The USA U-18 team] are good opponents to play,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “They are skilled, they skate well and they are not cheap. I give them a lot of credit. It was good for us because [the USA U-18 team] made it on hard on us, and that’s what we need to do to prepare for the season and it shows us what we need to focus on for the upcoming game.
“This includes [line] combinations, which we switched around a little bit in the third period, just trying to get a feel for who works well with who.”
With no scores in the first or second periods, the scoreless tie was broken by USA U-18 forward Shane Eiserman 1:10 into the third period. USA forward Michael McCarron grabbed a puck behind the net, wrapped around the side and passed it across the face of the goal to Eiserman, who put it past lunging Irish senior goaltender Mike Johnson.
The Irish, with renewed vigor, were able to finally connect at the 13:45 mark as sophomore defenseman Eric Johnson passed the puck to junior right-winger Mike Voran, who was able to slide by an incoming check. Voran moved the puck to wide-open junior center David Gerths in front of the net. Gerths put it past USA goaltender Thatcher Demko to tie the game up.
Demko amassed 25 saves and was named No. 2 star of the game. Gerths said Demko was a hard goalie to attack.
“It was nice to have time for once,” Gerths said. “Usually you don’t run into that situation where you have 10 seconds to take a shot. It was nice to get that goal, it’s been awhile. It was hard to get it past [Demko], he was always there and always in the way.”
The game went to overtime, but the Irish and the USA U-18 team were unable to capitalize in the sudden-death period and the game ended in a draw.
In the shootout, each team’s second shooter – USA forward Anthony Louis and Irish junior center T.J. Tynan – were the only ones to make their shot in the first four rounds. After USA defenseman Scott Savage missed his shot in the fifth round, Irish junior right-winger Bryan Rust was able to deke Demko and bury the shootout-winner home.
“I’ve been working on that at practice a lot,” Rust said. “I came down, faked the shot, made [Demko] bite a little, turned my whole body to my backhand and then made a hard cut to my forehand, and there it was the open net.”
The Irish controlled the first period. They held the majority of the possession and led 12-4 in the shots category.
The combination of Irish junior captain and center Anders Lee and sophomore winger Peter Schneider looked to be a formidable duo throughout the game, especially in the first period, Jackson said.
“I want to put [Schneider] in some offensive situations,” Jackson said. “He’s got good skills and a good shot and he has a history of scoring goals. I want to play him on the right side with Anders, not the left, but for the time being we have to play people out of position because we are short on the left side.”
In the second period, the USA U-18 team had a slight upper hand, as it led the shots category 9-5. Irish junior goaltender Steven Summerhays, who started the game, was replaced with 6:05 left in the second period by Johnson. Summerhays had 12 saves on the night, while Johnson had eight. Summerhays was not challenged much, Jackson said.
“Sometimes those are the most difficult games and [Summerhays] did what he had to,” Jackson said. “He had to be focused. All of the sudden, there’s a little traffic at the net and a play is going on right in front of you, after going periods of time without that, it’s harder to play goalie like that, and he did a good job. And so did [Johnson].”
With an exhibition under their belts, the Irish will take on Maine in the season-opener as part of the Ice Breaker Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday at 7 p.m.
Contact Isaac Lorton at email@example.com