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Hockey: No. 4 Notre Dame hosts Mich. Tech

Conor Kelly and Jack Hefferon | Thursday, October 17, 2013

 

After starting with season with victories in a home-and-home series with Western Michigan, No. 4 Notre Dame will play host again this weekend, this time to Michigan Tech. 

Hoping to extend their unbeaten streak and record their third consecutive shutout, the Irish (2-0-0) will look for a stiff challenge from the Huskies (0-1-1), who battled No. 20 Minnesota-Duluth to a 1-1 tie and a 2-1 loss last weekend.

“We’re looking at a fast team, and they’ll be coming here ready to play,” senior defenseman Kevin Lind said of Michigan Tech. “[Irish] coach [Jeff Jackson] said that he thinks they’ll be a stronger, more complete team than Western Michigan.”

As projected, one of Notre Dame’s early strengths has been the play of senior goaltender Steven Summerhays. The Anchorage, Alaska, native stopped all 44 pucks that came his direction in two games against Western Michigan (0-2-0) on his way to being named Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Summerhays earned praise from Jackson for maintaining his focus against the Broncos.

“[Summerhays] stood tall, and he didn’t let up because he had sustained times where he wasn’t facing shots,” Jackson said. “That’s emotional maturity, and it starts in practice … he’s grown up in that area.”

Despite the early success, Summerhays, who posted a 21-12-2 record and a .919 save percentage last season, emphasized that the Irish need to continue to work hard on defense.

“It’s the beginning of the year, and there were a couple posts and bounces that went our way to get us those results,” Summerhays said. “Moving forward, once we do give up that first goal, it’ll be important for us as a team to see how we react and bounce back from that.”

Though the Huskies have scored just two goals on the season, they will present a challenge to the Irish defense and penalty kill. While the Michigan Tech power play has yet to find the net in eleven chances, the Husky special teams will be a challenge for Notre Dame to deal with, Lind said.”Michigan Tech, after looking at them today, they’re going to give us a different look,” Lind said. “They have two or three different power plays. This week will definitely be more of a challenge than Western Michigan was,.[Michigan Tech]‘s penalty kill is a little different, and they have a lot of speed guys who like to fly.”

While Notre Dame’s strength this season has come from the back, finding the net against Michigan Tech may be slightly more difficult for the team. The Huskies have split time between sophomore netminders Jamie Phillips and Pheonix Copley, and each has a save percentage greater than .950. 

While the Irish have had seven different players score the team’s seven goals on the year, Jackson said he would like to see his top line, featuring senior forward T.J. Tynan, create more chances.

“The key for us right now is to get Tynan’s line going,” Jackson said. [Sophomore left wing] Mario Lucia started off a little slow. If we can get him going, him, Tynan and [senior right wing] Bryan Rust are three of our best offensive players.”If they can find a way to work together and support each other defensively, they’re very talented and very creative, and they should find a way to score goals.”

While the Irish have some tough competition ahead of them, Summerhays sait the team is enjoying playing competitive hockey again and looking to keep its record perfect.

“It’s always nice in the beginning of the year,” Summerhays said. “You feel fresh, and you don’t have anything that’s really bothering you.”Everyone’s always excited to start the season off. To get those results in the beginning of the year, you can’t really ask for too much better.”

Notre Dame will face off against Michigan Tech on Friday at 7:35 p.m. at Compton Family Ice Arena. The two teams will also meet Sunday at 2:05 p.m. at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu and Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu