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Hockey

Summerhays key in ND shutout, draw with Friars

| Sunday, February 16, 2014

Four years ago, Notre Dame brought in one of its largest recruiting classes ever, a group that has shaped the program ever since.

On the strength of its seniors, particularly, goaltender Steven Summerhays, Notre Dame dug itself out of a rut and grabbed two key late-season results.

Summerhays stopped 83 of 85 shots and the Irish seniors accounted for four of the team’s five goals as Notre Dame earned a 2-2 tie Friday and a 3-0 win Saturday against Providence at Schneider Arena in Providence, R.I.

Irish senior goalkeeper Steven Summerhays crouches in net in Notre Dame’s 2-1 loss to Maine on Feb. 7. Summerhays stopped 83 of 85 shots he faced in two games over the weekend.Michael Yu

Irish senior goalkeeper Steven Summerhays crouches in net in Notre Dame’s 2-1 loss to Maine on Feb. 7. Summerhays stopped 83 of 85 shots he faced in two games over the weekend.

The weekend didn’t get off to the start the Irish (17-12-2, 6-9-2 Hockey East) wanted, as the Friars (15-9-6, 7-7-2) jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period Friday. But it could have been much worse for Notre Dame early on, as Providence launched 33 shots in the first two periods alone.

But Summerhays held off the onslaught, allowing the Irish to tally the next two goals to get back in the game. Senior center T.J. Tynan came streaking out of the penalty box in the second period to score the first goal. Roughly six minutes later, Tynan recorded the 100th assist of his career when he fed sophomore left wing Sam Herr. Providence did sneak in a second goal before the time expired, sending the game to an overtime that ended scoreless, giving each team one point in the standings.

Summerhays finished the game with a career-high 47 saves, and Irish coach Jeff Jackson credited him with a great effort in goal.

“Steven Summerhays had a really good weekend for us in goal,” Jackson said. “Friday, he gave up too many rebounds, but he made some big saves for us, which allowed us a chance to get back into the game after we fell behind 1-0. He was tracking the puck really well.”

The tie came after Notre Dame had lost four of its last five, and the Irish carried the momentum into Saturday’s game. Senior forward David Gerths got them started six minutes into the game when he one-timed a slapshot over the shoulder of Friars sophomore goaltender Jon Gillies, breaking a 35-game goalless streak.

The Irish followed that goal up with another rare sight of late — a power-play goal.

With the man advantage, senior winger Jeff Costello held the puck at the point, then made a pass down to the opposite side of the crease. Herr passed up a shot and, instead, found senior forward Bryan Rust across the crease for the easy, pretty goal.

The goal was Notre Dame’s only conversion on 10 attempts over the weekend. Jackson said he hopes the man-advantage goal will help his power-play units get back to basics.

“Getting a goal will help them,” he said. “We’re looking for consistency, and trying to get a goal per game of the power play is huge for us. We just need to keep getting pucks through to the net.”

Summerhays was once again huge in net for the Irish as the senior made 36 stops to blank the Friars for his sixth shutout of the season. Though his team provided a pair of goals, Summerhays could never relax until Costello’s empty-netter with 39 seconds remaining iced the game.

“Saturday night, [Summerhays] was even better,” Jackson said.  “He was taking those shots into his body and did a really good job of controlling those rebounds.”

With three regular-season games remaining — two against Boston University at home this weekend and one against league-leading Boston College on the road — the Irish are tied for seventh in the Hockey East standings.

“We need to keep playing with the desperation we played with this weekend,” Jackson said. “We made a real effort to do the little things, the gritty things, that help you win games. We have to continue to battle in those areas on the ice, where the game is won and lost.”

The Irish host Boston University at Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

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