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Hockey: Irish sweep Ohio State, advance in playoffs

Sam Gans | Sunday, March 4, 2012

The final game ever played at the Joyce Center was an Ohio State victory over Notre Dame on Oct. 15. The final games played at the Compton Family Ice Arena in the 2011-2012 season proved a different story, as the No. 18 Irish stormed to a two-game sweep over the Buckeyes in the best-of-three first round of the CCHA playoffs by scores of 2-0 and 4-2 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

No. 8-seed Notre Dame (19-16-3) started Friday’s game strongly with a goal during the first 10 minutes, when sophomore forward Mike Voran corralled the puck along the goalline and shot it toward the net. The puck appeared to hit the shin of senior captain and forward Billy Maday and then deflected into the net off Buckeye defenseman Al McLean’s leg past goalie Cal Heeter.

Early in the second period, Maday scored again, when he put away an easy opportunity off a rebound from a slapshot by freshman defenseman Robbie Russo on the power play.

From that point on, sophomore goaltender Steven Summerhays stole the show.

Summerhays, who notched his second consecutive shutout, finished with 33 saves, including a sprawling glove save in the second period to keep ninth-seeded Ohio State (15-15-5) scoreless.

“I feel like anytime you get a shutout, as I said last week, it’s a direct result of the guys in front of you blocking shots, and tonight they probably blocked the most shots they have all year,” Summerhays said. “They were doing a good job letting me see pucks, and letting me make routine saves and watch pucks into my glove and chest.”

Summerhays continued his strong play Saturday, but not without some early adversity.

Ohio State scored the contest’s first goal 4:35 into the game when senior defenseman Sean Duddy fired a shot past a screened Summerhays.

Though Irish sophomore winger Jeff Costello quickly answered to tie the game, the Buckeyes went back on top near the end of the period when senior forward Danny Dries received a cross-ice feed and found the back of the net.

But that would be the final goal of the season for the Buckeyes, as Summerhays shut the door the rest of the game, recording 31 saves.

Irish coach Jeff Jackson said he was pleased to see Summerhays not flustered after the first-period goals.

“The thing I’ve been clamoring for all year is consistency,” Jackson said. “I was curious to see when he gave up the early goal tonight how he’d respond and he responded very well.”

The Irish dominated play in the second period and again tied the game at the 2:08 mark. Sophomore winger Bryan Rust worked his way from behind the goal to the front of the net before finding sophomore forward Anders Lee at the top of the crease for an easy finish.

The game-winner came with 11:03 left in the second period. After a faceoff win by Maday, sophomore forward David Gerths’ shot hit Heeter’s facemask then bounced off Voran into the net. The play was reviewed, but the goal stood.

Maday concluded the scoring with an empty-net goal in the third period for his fourth point of the series, as the Irish scored more than two goals for the first time since Jan. 28.

While Notre Dame advanced, there is still work left to do to make the NCAA tournament. The task only gets more difficult with a trip to No. 2-seed Michigan and hostile Yost Ice Arena.

“The first ten minutes of the first game are going to be huge,” Voran said. “When you’re on the road, you definitely want to pick up the first game.”

The Irish travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face Michigan in the CCHA quarterfinals this weekend.


Contact Sam Gans at [email protected]