Hockey: All tied up
Chris Allen and Allan Joseph | Monday, January 31, 2011
No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 13/11 Miami just couldn’t get enough of each other this weekend, with extra time needed in both games of a weekend series at the Joyce Center. The teams battled to a thrilling 5-5 tie Friday night, with the RedHawks (14-9-5, 11-7-4-2 CCHA) earning the shootout point.
Saturday night was a tense 2-2 affair, but the Irish (16-9-5, 13-6-3-2 CCHA) prevailed in the second shootout in as many days to cap an evenly battled weekend.
It was a back-and-forth affair Friday night, with the Irish taking 1-0 and 3-2 leads as well as a 2-0 run to close the game, while Miami earned 2-1 and 5-3 leads during the game.
“It was a great game,” Jackson said. “I would assume the fans enjoyed themselves. It was back and forth all game long.”
A raucous sellout crowd of 2,957 was on hand Friday for “White-Out” Night, and the Notre Dame freshmen did their best to give them their money’s worth. Freshman wing Jeff Costello got the Irish on the board first in the first period and freshman center T.J. Tynan tied the game 2-2 after a RedHawk run and then completed a late comeback to tie the game at 5-5 with less than four minutes remaining. Freshman left wing Anders Lee earned three assists, while sophomore center Riley Sheahan and junior right wing Billy Maday each scored once.
“It was a fun game to be involved in as a coach, but it [was] a bit nerve-wracking,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said.
It looked bleak for Notre Dame when senior RedHawk center Andy Miele recorded his first goal and fourth point of the night with just 9:29 remaining to open up a 5-3 Miami lead. Sheahan’s goal merely two minutes later gave the Irish hope, and Tynan’s equalizer sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Despite not scoring in overtime and losing the shootout point, Notre Dame was encouraged by its resiliency.
“Any time you’re playing 65 minutes of that kind of hockey, you want to come out on top,” Maday said. “[But] I think it was a great step for us to show that we could come back from a two-goal deficit in that short of a time — it’s great character for our team.”
It was evident that there was no love lost between the RedHawks and Irish, as there were multiple post-whistle scuffles and a total of 10 penalties over the course of the game. The penalties hurt Notre Dame, as Miami converted on three of its four power play opportunities.
“As long as we play with that physicality, it makes us a better team — as long as we don’t take unnecessary penalties,” Jackson said. “There were breakdowns that I didn’t like to see on the penalty kill.”
The energy of Friday night gave way to a more refined and controlled, but equally tight, Saturday evening affair. Freshmen led the way yet again for the Irish, as Lee scored two goals in a 2-2 tie and Tynan converted the only goal of the shootout to give Notre Dame the shootout point. Junior defenseman Sean Lorenz said the focus Saturday was in tightening up leaky fundamentals that led to Friday’s wide-open play.
“We talked about last night, that we needed to tighten up some of our puck decisions and our play,” he said. “We came out and tried to do some of the little, simple things. We came out and executed well tonight.”
After conceding five goals Friday night, sophomore Mike Johnson gave way to freshman Steve Summerhays in goal. Summerhays performed well in regulation but shined in the crucial shootout, stonewalling Miami’s Reilly Smith, Carter Camper and Miele — three of college hockey’s best players — in a row and setting the stage for Tynan’s walk-off winner.
“Steven Summerhays did what he had to do in goal, which is really all we need — make the saves that you’re supposed to make and make a few that you’re not supposed to make,” Jackson said. “He did a good job for us tonight and that’s important for our team.”
The Irish appeared to take the upper hand midway through the third period when Sheahan scored what seemed to be a goal to put the Irish up 3-1 on a breakaway.
The goal was called off, however, when Costello was whistled for elbowing on a hit right in front of the Irish bench. Miami’s Alden Hirschfeld equalized on the ensuing power play to cement the 2-2 final score. Jackson said the penalty was a tough blow to Notre Dame’s momentum.
“If it was a hit to the head, it’s a penalty,” Jackson said. “I don’t think it was an elbow necessarily from what I’ve been told. It’s unfortunate that we had to take a penalty in the third period, because it’s one of the biggest things, one of the most important things about winning a game like this is to not take penalties, especially as the game progresses.”
With the shootout win, the Irish close the weekend with 44 points in the CCHA, good for a one-point lead over Michigan, though the Wolverines have two games in hand on the Irish.
The Irish will now enter a bye week, while preparing to take on Bowling Green at home in two weeks.