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Hockey: Edging past the Eagles

Matthew DeFranks | Sunday, November 20, 2011

Towels waved. Glow-sticks flew. Foghorns blasted. Donors attended. Compton rocked.

And the Irish won.

No. 4 Notre Dame beat No. 3 Boston College 3-2 in overtime behind sophomore right wing Bryan Rust’s overtime goal with just 1.1 seconds remaining during the dedication game for the Compton Family Ice Arena.

“I’m grateful that we won with so many instrumental people in the building watching us play,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “We wouldn’t be in this building if it wasn’t for a lot of those people. Tonight was what we hoped this building would be. The band and the students were pretty incredible.”

Rust led a three-on-two odd-man rush flanked by sophomore left wing Anders Lee and sophomore center T.J. Tynan. Rust took an open wrist shot that hit Boston College junior goaltender Parker Milner before sliding into the net for the game-winner. The entire Notre Dame squad rushed the ice and celebrated in the corner while the crowd released a deafening cheer.

“I was flying through the neutral zone, went up the left wing. I knew there wasn’t much time, cut to the middle, put my head down and just ripped one,” Rust said. “I got lucky and it found its way to trickle into the net.”

The goal was Rust’s second of the season.

“It can’t get much better that this,” Rust said. “Down to the last second, in overtime, one just squeaks in with 1.1 seconds left. The game was a thrill ride the entire time.”

Before the game, the Compton family, for whom the building is named, dropped the puck during a ceremonial face-off. The Comptons were just a few of the donors in the arena for the Dedication Game.

Boston College (9-4-0, 7-2-0 Hockey East) struck first with 12.5 seconds left in the first period.

When a scrum in front of the net caused the puck to squirt into the crease, Irish sophomore defenseman Stephen Johns jumped at a chance to cover the puck. The action was ruled illegal and Boston College was awarded a penalty shot.

“I could talk a lot about the officiating tonight but I don’t think I should,” Jackson said.

Eagles junior left wing Chris Kreider started right, then swerved left before beating Irish junior goaltender Mike Johnson over his right pad.

The penalty shot was the first one Notre Dame (9-2-2, 6-1-2 CCHA) allowed since Dec. 4, 2009, against Miami (Ohio).

The Irish evened the score at 6:54 in the second period when Tynan whipped a wrist shot from the top of the left face-off circle past Milner. The goal set off a frenzy in the full-capacity crowd of 5,022 that immediately began tossing glow-sticks onto the ice.

“Anders, Tynan [and junior center] Riley Sheahan played an exceptional game. [Senior center] Billy Maday played well,” Jackson said. “We had a lot of guys that played really, really well. There were a lot of positives and a lot of guys elevated their game.”

Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead with a play originating from the defensive zone. Freshman right wing Austin Wuthrich led the Irish into the neutral zone before finding Sheahan with a cross-ice pass. Sheahan centered the puck to sophomore defenseman Shayne Taker, who finished the play with a backhand flip for the score.

The goal was Taker’s second in as many games for Notre Dame.

“He’s getting some confidence,” Jackson said of Taker. “We were hoping for that. He’s shown a lot of poise with the puck and a lot of confidence, which is great.”

The Irish kept up the pressure in the third period, firing the first eight shots on goal in the final frame. Notre Dame finished with 35 shots, while Boston College amassed 34 shots. Johnson finished with 32 saves on the night.

“Mike is not intimidated by anything,” Jackson said. “When he thinks too much is when he has problems. He was focused.”

With just 2:10 left in the third period, Boston College knotted the game on a goal from freshman left wing Johnny Gaudreau.

Johnson stopped an initial Boston College shot, but the rebound skidded to the right. Gaudreau was there to bang home the game-tying goal.

The final two minutes went by goalless, and the game went into overtime.

The Irish are now unbeaten in their last nine games and hold the top position in the CCHA standings.

“We still have a long ways to go before I think we’re capable of being the type of team we can be,” Jackson said. “We need to get some secondary scoring on our team.”

The Irish earned the Lefty Smith-John “Snooks” Kelley Memorial Trophy for the second year in a row and the sixth time in the last eight meetings.

“They played with a lot of passion,” Jackson said. “They played well. That’s certainly as good a team we’ve seen this year, no question.”

The game marked Notre Dame’s fourth overtime contest in its past six games.

“We’re getting to be too good at it, which is not good for my health,” Jackson said of the overtime games.

Notre Dame returns to action when it heads to Kalamazoo, Mich., for a rematch with CCHA foe Western Michigan.



Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected]