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Hockey

River Hawks defeat Notre Dame, 3-1

| Thursday, November 20, 2014

Notre Dame dropped a hard fought Hockey East contest to No. 5 UMass-Lowell, 3-1, on Thursday night at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Sophomore goaltender Chad Katunar made 32 saves for the Irish (6-6-1, 2-2-1 Hockey East), but the River Hawks (8-2-2, 5-0-1) stayed unbeaten in Hockey East play behind freshman forward Michael Louria’s game-winning goal late in the second period.

Irish sophomore goaltender Chad Katunar stares down the ice  during Notre Dame’s 3-1 loss to UMass-Lowell on Thursday night. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish sophomore goaltender Chad Katunar stares down the ice
during Notre Dame’s 3-1 loss to UMass-Lowell on Thursday night.

The teams traded goals in the opening frame. The River Hawks found the net from 190 feet out when the puck took a fluke bounce past Katunar’s stick to give UMass-Lowell the lead midway through the period. Irish junior left wing Sam Herr knotted the game with 3:16 left in the first period to send the Irish and coach Jeff Jackson to the locker room, where Jackson said he felt confident.

“I thought we were playing pretty well in the first period,” Jackson said. “I thought we executed some things pretty well tonight. We created some turnovers; we just needed to make a good play and try to create a scoring chance.”

For the rest of the night, Notre Dame struggled to find any kind of rhythm as they committed seven penalties in total. There were a total of eleven penalties committed between the two teams, a number that left UMass-Lowell’s coach Norm Bazin saying he could not even keep up with all the people headed to the penalty box.

“I lost track of the power plays,” Bazin said. “I thought there were so many for both teams. We’ve got to try and correct some of those penalties and do a better job. We’ve got to be conscious of that tomorrow.”

Jackson was similarly frustrated by the penalties. He said it was irritating both to spend so much time down a man and to be unable to capitalize when the Irish had power play opportunities.

“You can’t take that many penalties and win the game,” Jackson said. “We had to kill off seven penalties, and you’ve got to score a power play goal.”

While the Irish could not find the net, the River Hawks kept the pressure on the Irish in the last two periods. Katunar made a big save on a penalty kill and extended his blocker just in time to keep out a breakaway chance midway through the second period, but Louria broke through with 3:44 left in the period when he took a centering pass and then slotted in his own rebound.

The third period saw the Irish regain some momentum that culminated in a late chance for senior defenseman Robbie Russo. He got off a one-timer from deep in the attacking zone, but was denied. No sooner had the puck been cleared when River Hawks senior defenseman Zack Kamrass lit the lamp to give the visitors the 3-1 lead and send many fans to the exits with 4:38 remaining in the contest.

Bazin said he was pleased with the way his team fought throughout the night.

“I thought our guys were able to show a better competition level tonight,” Bazin said. “We came off a subpar effort, and I was pleased with the effort tonight. I thought we generated some chances; we executed offensively when we could. It was a tough effort against a very good team.”

For Notre Dame, Jackson said he saw a lot of positives on the night and is focused on continuing to get better.

“It’s a work in progress like I’ve said all along, and I saw actually some good things tonight, but offensively we’re just not generating enough, and you have to score goals,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to get some scoring chances, and you’re not going to beat a team of this quality without scoring a few goals.”

The Irish were focused all night on altering their mentality so they could get to the net more and fight harder for rebounds, Herr said. Herr also said battling should be the team’s main focus going into tomorrow night’s rematch.

“If we come in tomorrow with the mentality of getting shots through and getting guys to the net and battling hard to get rebounds, it can change a lot,” Herr said. “Once you see it happen once, you realize that’s the way to break down an opponent like this that plays good defense. We’re obviously getting those chances, getting them close, but that’s not the problem. The problem is getting people there for the rebounds and having people battle in front of the net. It doesn’t matter what size you are, you’ve got to get to the net if you want to score a goal.”

Jackson said he was happy with the way Katunar performed in Notre Dame’s net, especially after the early miscue.

“I thought Chad played really well,” Jackson said. “I thought he kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win. Especially, I mean, he’s the most important guy on the penalty kill.”

The Irish will get another crack at the River Hawks tomorrow in Compton Family Ice Arena. The puck will drop at 7:35 p.m.

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About Josh Dulany

Originally from Texas, I grew up overseas and attended high school in Ethiopia. I have always followed sports intently and enjoy watching and playing practically any sport. I am double majoring in Marketing and FTT.

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