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Hockey: Irish split home-opening series with Bulldogs

Sam Gans | Tuesday, October 23, 2012


After a 3-1 loss to No. 13 Minnesota-Duluth last Thursday night, the No. 9 Irish defeated the Bulldogs 4-1 on Friday in the first two games at Compton Family Ice Arena this season.

Notre Dame (3-1-0) notched 23 penalty minutes in the first period Thursday against the Bulldogs (2-2-0), including a five-minute major by junior defenseman Kevin Lind for a hit to the head of Bulldog sophomore winger Caleb Herbert. Lind was disqualified from the rest of the game and suspended for Friday’s game.

Irish freshman forward Thomas DiPauli then committed a slashing penalty with 35 seconds remaining in the first period. With DiPauli and fellow freshman forward Sam Herr – serving Lind’s penalty – in the box, Minnesota-Duluth scored the game’s first goal on a two-man advantage with just 2.1 seconds to go in the period. Bulldog senior winger Mike Seidel fed the puck to freshman center Cal Decowski near the top of the crease, who placed it past Irish junior goaltender Steven Summerhays and under the crossbar.

Irish coach Jeff Jackson was unsure why his team – which went 2-0 in the season-opening Ice Breaker Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., the previous weekend with wins over Maine and Nebraska-Omaha – had an undisciplined first 20 minutes.

“The whole game was probably dictated by the first period,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “We took some foolish penalties. I don’t know if we were too emotional, because I didn’t see that last week at all.”

After Minnesota-Duluth increased its lead to 3-0 in the second period with goals from senior winger Dan DeLisle and sophomore winger Justin Crandall, Irish junior right wing Bryan Rust worked his way from behind the goal to the front of the net on the power play and deked out Bulldog freshman goalie Matt McNeely to pull the Irish within two at the 15:07 mark of the second period. Neither team, however, found the back of the net the rest of the game.

“We had guys last week who were making good plays getting pucks in behind the defense, forechecking [and] creating turnovers and tonight we were trying to do stuff too much one-on-one, as opposed to doing stuff that made us successful last weekend,” Jackson said. “And we’re playing a better team, probably, too.”

Although a poor first period hindered the Irish on Thursday, a strong opening 20 minutes Friday propelled Notre Dame to a win. A turnover by Minnesota-Duluth junior winger Joe Basaraba in the Bulldog zone allowed Irish junior center T.J. Tynan to open the scoring 15:04 into the game. 

The Irish scored again with 2:32 left in the first period. Irish junior defenseman Shayne Taker passed a puck from the point to junior captain and center Anders Lee in the right faceoff circle, who directed it cross-ice to sophomore defenseman Robbie Russo. Russo fired a one-timer past sprawling Minnesota-Duluth junior netminder Aaron Crandall on the power play.

“We switched [Russo] to the other side,” Jackson said. “Taker’s been playing well and we put him out at the point; it made the power play look much better, just with a little bit more poise and putting Robbie on his off-side where he can shoot the puck.”

Notre Dame held a 21-8 advantage in shots after 20 minutes and carried the momentum into the second period. Irish junior right wing Mike Voran stole the puck from sophomore defenseman Chris Casto near the goal and found junior left wing Jeff Costello open in front of the net for a Notre Dame goal.

Bulldog freshman center Tony Cameranesi cut the deficit to two heading into the third, but Irish junior center David Gerths sealed the win 4:39 into the third when he scored off a pass from senior left wing Nick Larson.

Jackson said he was pleased with the scoring depth the Irish showed.

“When I start seeing guys like Voran and Gerths scoring goals, that’s a good sign for our team,” Jackson said. “Last year, that hurt us. Those guys are really important players to our team. They play valuable minutes. And when they contribute [goals] – that’s not going to be their forte – that makes us a much better team.”

Summerhays finished Friday’s contest with 33 saves. Jackson said he planned on playing senior goaltender Mike Johnson in one of the first four games, but wanted to show Summerhays he had confidence in the junior by playing him after Thursday’s loss.

Summerhays said the key to the game was shutting down the Bulldogs after Cameranesi’s goal. 

“We’re able to bend but not break,” Summerhays said. “They scored a goal and we were able to turn the page and shut them down from scoring another goal and go into the third period with a two-goal lead. That was huge.”

The Irish open CCHA play this weekend when they travel to Northern Michigan for a pair of games Friday and Saturday. Both games start at 7:35 p.m.

Contact Sam Gans at [email protected]