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Hockey: Notre Dame settles for split

Matthew DeFranks | Sunday, February 5, 2012

The search for the elusive sweep continues. After defeating Bowling Green 2-1 on Friday, No. 6 Notre Dame could not beat the Falcons again, losing 3-2 Saturday night.

The loss marked the third in the last five games for Notre Dame (16-11-3, 11-8-3-0 CCHA), who slipped into a tie for fourth place in the CCHA standings with Miami and Ohio State.

“It’s very frustrating, but we had plenty of chances to score goals and we didn’t,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “You can only put guys in position to score, and we lacked that ability to finish tonight.”

The split with the Falcons (9-16-5, 4-14-4-3) leaves the Irish without a series sweep since accomplishing the feat against Alaska in mid-November.

“It’s really disappointing [to lose] going into the third period with the lead,” sophomore defenseman Stephen Johns said. “We had a few breakdowns out there and that was the difference in the game.”

Notre Dame held a 2-1 lead heading in to the third behind goals from freshman defenseman Robbie Russo and Johns.

Russo struck first with a one-timer slap shot from the top of the left face-off circle, beating Falcons junior goalie Andrew Hammond over his left shoulder. The score was Russo’s fourth goal of the year, all on the power play. Johns capitalized on the power play again for the Irish, whipping a wrist shot from the blue line past Hammond. The goal marked the third straight game Johns has registered a point for Notre Dame.

Hammond rebounded from the rough start to record 20 saves on the game.

“[Hammond] makes a difference,” Jackson said. “He made some big saves tonight. We still need to find a way to finish in those situations. He definitely was a difference maker in net.”

The Irish appeared to extend the lead to 3-1 nearly six minutes into the second period after sophomore defenseman Kevin Lind shot a pass from sophomore center T.J. Tynan past Hammond. The goal was reviewed and the original call was upheld.

At 10:18 of the second period, Falcons junior center Marc Rodriguez was called for a 10-minute misconduct penalty, resulting in his ejection from the game. The ejection was part of a nearly four minute stretch where the Falcons racked up four different penalties. The Irish, however, were unable to take advantage of the opportunities.

“I think our team has more offensive ability than what we’re showing,” Jackson said. “When we keep the game simple and grind it out, get pucks to the net, we score goals.”

After firing 13 shots on goal in the first period, Notre Dame managed just five in the second period and four in the third period.

“You have to give Bowling Green a lot of credit, they played really hard, right till the end,” Johns said. “It just wasn’t our night tonight.”

Falcons freshman center Ryan Carpenter scored two goals in the third period to give the Falcons a lead they would not give up. Carpenter’s second goal came with just 1:38 left in the third period.

“Bowling Green did a good job in the third period,” Jackson said. “They were getting everything to the net, and our guys were making drop passes. That’s the difference.”

With the goalie pulled and time winding down in regulation, the Irish almost scored a late equalizer. With less than five seconds left, Bowling Green had the puck pinned deep in their own zone. The puck squirted out to Irish junior center Riley Sheahan, who had an open look, but Hammond denied him with a glove save to end the game.

While Hammond started both games for the Falcons, Notre Dame once again used two different netminders. Junior goalie Mike Johnson started during Notre Dame’s win Friday night and sophomore goalie Steven Summerhays played Saturday.

Johnson notched 24 saves in the win while Summerhays stopped 21 shots in the loss.

“They have both had their spells where they’ve played extremely well,” Jackson said. “I didn’t think Steven played poorly tonight. With the exception of last Friday night, we’ve been getting good goaltending.”

The Irish got goals from Tynan and junior left wing Nick Larson Friday night, with Larson’s score coming at 5:45 of the third period.

Jackson said the difference from night to night was simple.

“[Bowling Green] scored two [more] goals,” he said. “They play hard, they compete hard, they execute their system well. I expect that they’ll only get better.”

Notre Dame faces No. 7 Ferris State next weekend in a crucial conference series. Friday’s game will be played at the Compton Family Ice Arena and Saturday’s contest will take place in Big Rapids, Mich. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.



Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected]