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Hockey: Team falls to Huskies in finals

Sam Gans | Tuesday, December 3, 2013

 

No. 13 Notre Dame won its semifinal game of the Shillelagh Tournament 5-2 over Alabama-Huntsville on Friday but blew a third-period lead in the championship to lose 3-2 to No. 19 Northeastern on Saturday in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish (9-6-1) led the Huskies (9-5-1) 2-1 after 40 minutes, but allowed two goals in the final 9:59 of the game. Northeastern senior forward Braden Pimm scored a power-play goal to knot the game at 2-2 and later fed a pass from behind the net to freshman forward Dalen Hedges for the go-ahead goal with 2:42 remaining.

“I can’t remember the last time we gave up a lead in the third and lost in regulation, which is unacceptable, especially in a championship environment,” Irish senior center T.J. Tynan said. “That one stings.”

The Irish jumped out to an early lead at the 13:34 mark of the first period when senior defenseman Shayne Taker’s shot from the point snuck past Northeastern junior goaltender Clay Witt. Notre Dame extended its lead to 2-0 midway through the second period, when senior defenseman Stephen Johns buried a rebound from his own shot to score a shorthanded goal. 

“Obviously, any time I can help out in the offensive aspect of the game, it’s a huge benefit for me and for my team,” Johns said. “I try to give my team any kind of boost, whether it’s a goal or hit or a nice pass or anything, so it’s been nice, but I obviously need to do a little bit more of that to get some wins here.”

After Johns’s goal, the Huskies pulled within one heading into the third period thanks to a goal from junior forward Torin Snydeman, who found himself alone in front of the net and fired a shot past the glove of Irish senior goaltender Steven Summerhays.

“We were playing pretty well,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “In the second period we were all over them, and that changed with penalties. It just changed the momentum of the game. … I thought we got comfortable after a 2-0 lead.”The Irish and Huskies will meet again in Compton on Jan. 24 and 25 for a pair of Hockey East contests. Saturday’s game, as part of the tournament, was not an official conference game.

Northeastern tied Western Michigan (6-5-3) in its semifinal game Friday before it advanced by winning the shootout, but Notre Dame won its semifinal game outright 5-2 over the Chargers (0-14-0). The Irish stormed to a 3-0 lead in the first period, an outburst that included goals by Tynan and Johns just 23 seconds apart.

Chargers junior forward Jeff Vanderlugt put Alabama-Huntsville on the board with less than a minute left in the first period and later cut the deficit to 3-2 in the second period with his second goal of the game. But goals from sophomore forward Mario Lucia and junior defenseman Robbie Russo later in the period provided the Irish the final three-goal margin.

Irish freshman netminder Chad Katunar made his second collegiate start against the Chargers and needed to make just 13 saves.

In addition to his goal, Tynan added two assists against the Chargers to go along with an assist on Taker’s goal against the Huskies for four points on the weekend. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

The Irish will also face Alabama-Huntsville again in a two-game home series later this season on Jan. 10 and 11.

Notre Dame returns to the ice Friday and Saturday when it hosts Massachusetts in a two-game conference series.

Contact Sam Gans at sgans@nd.edu