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Hockey: Junior center glides past Laker defense

Isaac Lorton | Monday, December 3, 2012

On Saturday night as the No. 6 Irish took on Lake Superior State, a little girl held up a sign that read “T.J. Tynan is a red-haired ninja.”

The description seemed fitting, as Irish coach Jeff Jackson said the junior center has been quietly and subtly contributing to the team’s offense this season without scoring, and then Tynan exploded this weekend for one goal and three assists. In the 10th minute of the first period Saturday, junior defenseman Shayne Taker passed the puck to center ice off the boards. Two Laker players went after junior left-winger Jeff Costello, and an unimpeded Tynan took the puck across the blue line, creating a two-on-two break. Sophomore right-winger Peter Schneider skated across from Tynan, while two Laker defensemen looked to play the pass. Tynan took advantage of the opportunity and fired a wrist shot near post, beating Laker junior goaltender Kevin Kapalka to the left post, for his third goal of the season. Jackson said he was happy Tynan was able to get a goal.

“He’s a heck of an offensive player,” Jackson said. “I figured he would come out of it at some point.”

Tynan had not scored a goal since the 4-1 win over Minnesota-Duluth in Notre Dame’s home opening series Oct. 19. Tynan had two assists in Friday’s 3-2 win and one goal and one assist in Saturday’s 6-1 rout of the Lakers (7-9-0, 4-6-0-0). Tynan said it was good to finally get the goal, but he was happier about the team win.

“Yeah, it’s nice to get on the score sheet,” Tynan said. “We had a really good start [Saturday], I thought, and anytime you win 6-1, you’re going to feel good about it. It was a real positive for us tonight.”

Jackson said Tynan has continued to play at a high level, despite not scoring.

“He hasn’t taken short cuts,” Jackson said. “That is pretty impressive, actually, for a good offensive player.”

Tynan said the scoring dry spell did not worry him, as the Irish (11-4-0, 7-1-0-0) have been winning nonetheless.

“I don’t think I was fighting it,” Tynan said. “I just knew that eventually I would get out of the slump. When you work hard and just keep doing the things that you now are right to do – just do the little things right – especially when you’re team is winning, you really can’t be complaining about it. So it was a good weekend for us and it was definitely nice to get that monkey off my back.”

Tynan said the 6-1 offensive win was nice for the team, but the main focus was not who scored, but who was winning.

“I don’t think we have been thinking about [an offensive explosion],” Tynan said. “We have won games where we haven’t scored a lot, so I think we are just worried about winning and worried about doing the little things right. We are worried about coming to practice each day and working on our scoring skills, knowing we are able to put up numbers like we did [Saturday].”

With Tynan, the “red-haired ninja,” setting an example by doing all of the little things right, the Irish look to close out 2012 with wins over Michigan State on Friday and Saturday night at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Contact Issac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu