Wildcats sweep Notre Dame
Observer Staff Report | Sunday, February 2, 2014
With its trip to New Hampshire this weekend, No. 14 Notre Dame was hoping to keep its momentum rolling through a key road series. Instead, the Irish got more than they could handle from the Wildcats, who used 4-2 and 5-2 victories to send Notre Dame home without a point.The Irish (15-11-1, 4-8-1 Hockey East) outshot the hosts by double-digits on both nights, but New Hampshire (16-13-1, 8-6-0) made the most of its chances and shut down the Irish power play to secure the weekend sweep.
On Friday night, the Irish had to contend with a brand new environment, facing off against both a rowdy crowd (roughly 6,000 on both nights) and an unfamiliar rink (the far wider, Olympic-sized sheet). Still, the Irish came out firing early as a shot from junior defenseman Eric Johnson caromed in off the skate of sophomore winger Mario Lucia to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the second period. However, that was the only lead Notre Dame would hold all weekend, as New Hampshire finished off the period with two goals of its own.
Up one, the Wildcats appeared to be in the driver’s seat when they went on the power play with just over five minutes to play. Irish senior forwards T.J. Tynan and Bryan Rust took a long rebound and started a break, where Rust took a pass from Tynan and buried his shot to get a late shorthanded equalizer. The Wildcats took the lead back just 29 seconds later though on the power play, and added a late empty netter to claim a 4-2 victory on Friday night.
The Irish didn’t start as well on Saturday night, though goals from Lucia and Tynan — both assisted by freshman center Vince Hinostroza — dug them out of early 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.
The Wildcats flipped the tide of the game in their favor late in the second period, when sophomore forward Matt Willows snuck around the Irish defense and made a nice move past Irish senior goaltender Steven Summerhays to give New Hampshire a shorthanded goal and a 3-2 lead.
The Wildcats added another goal early in the third to double their lead, then closed out the scoring at 5-2 with an empty-netter in the final minute of the game.
All in all, the Irish power play was 0-for-6 on the weekend, while surrendering the key Willows goal.
After the sweep, the Irish now sit in a tie for eighth in the Hockey East standings, with just seven conference games left on its schedule. Notre Dame is now 1-6 on the road in conference games, and its three remaining road games will come against No. 2 Boston College and No. 7 Providence.
The Irish will return home next weekend though, as they’ll face off with Maine in a pair of games on Friday and Saturday night.