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Hockey: ND wins Saturday to split weekend

Conor Kelly | Monday, November 26, 2012

On Friday night, the Irish felt they had been shorted by an official’s judgment call that led to a 2-1 loss to No. 7 North Dakota. Saturday, the team left no room for similar doubts.

No. 6 Notre Dame (9-4-0) rebounded with a 5-2 victory Saturday. Officials waved off an apparent goal by junior captain Anders Lee in the final minutes of Friday’s game, preserving the one-goal victory for North Dakota. The Irish peppered North Dakota goaltender Clarke Saunders with 41 shots in the second contest and junior goaltender Steven Summerhays stopped all but two pucks sent his way as the team salvaged the weekend split.

Lee noted that a desire to finish the business started on Friday was a motivating force for the Irish on Saturday.

“For a good hour after the game last night, a lot of us were mentally into the game that had just ended,” Lee said. “I think the biggest thing was to try and continue that fire and that aggression and bring it into tonight.”

After the frustration of seeing a would-be goal waved off, Lee turned in a banner performance Saturday, opening the scoring for the Irish and also burying the eventual game-winner to finish with two goals and an assist on the night. Fellow junior forward Jeff Costello also scored twice.

Lee broke a scoreless tie in the first period off a feed from senior defenseman Sam Calabrese, putting a backhander past Saunders and later scored to put the Irish up 3-1, beating Saunders with a wrister from the left circle.

In the second period, junior defenseman Kevin Lind put the Irish up for good, breaking a 1-1 tie with his first goal of the season, a slap shot from the left point with assists to sophomore defenseman Robbie Russo and junior forward T.J. Tynan. Costello finished the scoring for the Irish in the third with two goals, one a tally off a rush with an assist to Lee and the second an empty-netter at 19:41 of the third.

“For the most part it was kind of a crazy game, especially in the first period,” Jackson said. “This time we scored the first goal, which made big difference and gave us a little more confidence.”

The Irish penalty-killers came up big once again, stopping North Dakota on all five of its power play opportunities, including a stretch of five-on-three in the second period just after Lind scored to put the Irish up 2-1.

“Lind’s goal and then killing off the five-on-three was a huge turning point,” Jackson said. “We got overly emotional in the middle part of that period which caused the whole thing to happen. Just too much emotion. We’re going to have to learn how to deal with that because that’ll cost us when in matters most.”

Some of that emotion may have stemmed from a frustrating 2-1 loss the night before that saw Saunders turn away 35 Notre Dame shots and an official prematurely blow a play dead in the crease just before Lee poked the puck over the goal line in the game’s final minute. Both Lee and Jackson expressed their disapproval to the officials, but to no available

The Irish outshot North Dakota 36-17 in Friday’s contest but were unable to crack Saunders for most of the night. North Dakota opened up a 2-0 in the second period lead that the Irish were never able to overcome, despite a power play tally by Lee off a feed from freshman forward Mario Lucia. The Irish poured 22 shots on Saunders in the second and third periods, but the junior netminder turned aside all but one.

Speaking Saturday of Friday’s game, Jackson noted that tough calls and hot goaltenders were just some of the things a resilient team must face.

“That’s a real downer the way we didn’t win that game or tie that game last night,” Jackson said. “Everyone goes through those games where you have bad breaks. You have to have the ability to respond to it which our guys did tonight.”

The Irish are now 5-4 in November as they look ahead to a home series against Lake Superior State this weekend. Coming out of series against top teams in Michigan, Western Michigan and Boston College, Jackson expressed satisfaction in his team’s play.

“We got through it over .500 which is really important,” Jackson said. “It helps us confidence-wise and that’s why we play the tough games.”

Notre Dame will face Lake Superior State at 7:35 p.m. on Friday at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu