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Hockey

ND knocks off top-ranked BC

| Monday, March 3, 2014

On paper, the game didn’t mean much. The eventual results of the weekend’s games in Hockey East ensured that, whether they had won or lost against No. 1 Boston College on Saturday, No. 14 Notre Dame would still end up as the eighth-seed in the conference tournament.

Irish sophomore forward Mario Lucia takes a shot during Notre Dame's 2-0 victory over Boston University on Feb. 22.Isabella Gianco

Irish sophomore forward Mario Lucia skates to the net during Notre Dame’s 2-0 victory over Boston University on Feb. 22.

But hockey isn’t played on paper, and a fortuitous bounce in overtime allowed the Irish to upset the Eagles 2-1, finish their season on a six-game unbeaten streak and ride into the playoffs with plenty of momentum.

Just over one minute into overtime, Irish freshman center Vince Hinostroza corralled the puck in the corner, then held onto it, ragging the puck back and forth along the boards for a full 11 seconds. He eventually found space near the point and flung a shot towards the crowd in front of the net. The puck hit the stick of a Boston College defenseman then arced through the air and over Eagles freshman goaltender Thatcher Demko.

Hinostroza’s seventh goal of the season silenced the sellout crowd of 7,884 at Conte Forum that had supported an Eagles team that hadn’t lost in 19 games.

“We did a good job of creating traffic, and it just deflected off one of their defensemen into the air and just got over the shoulder of the goalie,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “In overtime, every shot is an important shot.”

Notre Dame (20-12-2, 9-9-2 Hockey East) opened the scoring in the second period off the unlikely stick of senior defenseman Kevin Lind. Senior captain Jeff Costello carried the puck into the zone, and his linemates both plunged low towards the crease. Lind stepped into vacated space in the slot, received a pass from Costello with room to shoot and beat Demko with a wrister to the top corner. Lind leads the Irish in both blocked shots and plus-minus, but he had just one goal on the season prior to the tally that gave the Irish an early lead.

“The funny thing is, Kevin Lind is a guy who does that all the time, he just doesn’t get rewarded for it,” Jackson said. “That’s not his forte. But it was a nice job on the rush, and getting guys to the net allowed that pass to be available.”

Boston College (25-5-4, 16-2-2) answered back in the third period, with a power play goal from Hobey Baker hopeful junior Johnny Gaudreau. The junior forward walked past the Irish defense and shot past Irish senior goaltender Steven Summerhays to register his 30th goal of the season and tie the game, but that was as far as the Eagles would get. The goal was the first allowed by Summerhays in 230 minutes of game action, dating back to a Feb. 14 game against Providence. Summerhays turned in three full shutouts since then and helped lead the Irish on their late-season surge.

Jackson said that Summerhays’ sensational play has helped power the team down the stretch and will be crucial in having Notre Dame’s momentum continue into the playoffs.

“Over the last month, we’ve started to play more consistently, and that’s important as we’re going into the playoffs,” Jackson said. “And that all started with the play of Steven Summerhays, who’s been great every night for us.”

With the regular season over, the Irish will begin postseason play by hosting a one-game playoff against Boston University on Saturday, with the winner set to face Boston College in the next round. Jackson said his team is playing some of its best hockey, but still needs to work on the power play, among other things. And regardless of the team’s recent play, all that matters now is the sixty minutes against the Terriers.

“There’s only five points between us and second place. Just because of where we are in the standings, it makes it that much more challenging. It might be a tough go for us in the playoffs, but right now all that matters is winning on Saturday night. There’s nothing more dangerous than a single-elimination game. “

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About Jack Hefferon

Jack Hefferon is a senior Economics major from Armonk, New York, and resides in the luxurious Carroll Hall. When not doing sports-related things, he enjoys being messier than his roommates, chicken in the dining hall, oxford commas, and afternoon naps. Yes mom, he occasionally does homework, too.

Contact Jack