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Hockey: Irish skate to series split

Isaac Lorton | Monday, November 5, 2012

After falling 3-2 to No. 11 Western Michigan on Friday night, the No. 7 Irish fought back Sunday to shut out the Broncos 4-0.

On Friday, the Irish were unable to capitalize on power plays, the Broncos scored twice with the man advantage, including the game-winner by junior center Chase Balisy early in the third period. The second period was the key in the game, as Notre Dame gave up two goals and was unable to pull itself out of the hole in the third.

“The second period was definitely the difference to the game,” Jackson said. “We played a decent first and we played with some urgency in the third, but the power play goal hurt. That’s a problem. That’s been our problem a little bit this year at times. We have momentum going and take a penalty and the whole game changes and that that happened again in the third period tonight.”

In the first minute of the third period, junior defenseman Stephen Johns passed the puck through the middle third, where it was tipped by junior left-winger Jeff Costello to senior captain Anders Lee, who backhanded a one-time shot into the left corner. Shortly after gaining momentum, the Irish lost it when senior left-winger Nick Larson was called for a penalty for incidental contact to the head.     

Forty seconds into the penalty, Balisy cut through the Notre Dame defense in front of the net uncontested and received a pass from freshman defenseman Kenney Morrison and placed the puck in the right corner past Irish junior goaltender Steven Summerhays.  

Sophomore goaltender Frank Slubowski had 35 saves, while Summerhays amassed 22.

“[Slubowski] was very good,” Jackson said. “[Western Michigan] killed penalties and blocked a lot of shots. We made some changes going into the third that helped. … In the third period we shot the puck and we had a better net presence.”

The Irish were a completely different team Sunday night, as they routed Western Michigan 4-0.

“It’s the way we need to play at home,” Jackson said. “I am very pleased with the way we played. I would love to be able to say we did the same thing Friday night. We played with a lot more intensity and did a good job with the puck.”    

The Irish maintained possession most of the game and were able to get out to an early lead in the first period.

On a power play, senior defenseman Sam Calabrese passed the puck to sophomore right-winger Austin Wuthrich in the offensive zone. Wuthrich passed it from the left side of the ice to freshman center Steven Fogarty, who then placed the puck top left shelf past Slubowski. The Irish are 6-0 when they score first, but 0-2 when they fall behind.

“It seemed like tonight we had a lot more energy than [Western Michigan],” Lee said. “When you start a game off with a power play goal and you get a lot of shots in the first, you definitely are able to control from the get go.”

Unlike Friday, the Irish owned the second period. In the second minute of play, junior right-winger Bryan Rust was able to make a steal in the offensive zone, wrapped around the net and passed it across the face of the goal to Lee, who was able to easily tap it in the open right side of the net.

Costello was the next to get a goal, as he received a pass from Johns threaded between two defenders and put it between Slubowski’s legs. Slubowski was replaced by freshman goaltender Lukas Hafner. Lee got his second goal of the night when he lobbed the puck into an empty net to ice the game.

Summerhays only faced 14 shots the whole game and was able to come up with the clean sheet, but Slubowski and Hafner saw 35 shots.    

“[The lack of shots] was due to puck possession,” Jackson said. “People get confused when you have a great defensive team like I have had in the past everybody wants to say you play a defensive style, but that’s not true when you possess the puck. And that’s the best way to limit the opponent’s opportunities. … Our game was more about puck possession than defense.”

The Irish are happy to get the win, Lee said, as they continue a tough November stretch at No. 1 Boston College and at No. 8 Michigan.

“It’s a huge win because that brutal stretch started [last] Friday,” Lee said. “Western is a great team and they will be there at the end of the year.”   

The Irish begin their grueling road trip in Boston, as they look to upset the Golden Eagles this Friday.  

 

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu