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Hockey: Superior Irish sweep Lakers

Isaac Lorton | Monday, December 3, 2012

The No. 6 Irish captured their first home sweep of the season against Lake Superior State by holding on to a one-goal lead to win 3-2 on Friday and dominating Saturday’s game with 6-1 victory.

The first goal Friday night was junior captain and center Anders Lee’s 50th career goal. Junior left winger Jeff Costello put the puck behind the net, where junior right winger Bryan Rust gathered the puck. Rust was able to fight off defenders and place the puck to Lee, who took a one-time shot past Laker junior goaltender Kevin Murdock. 

“That’s his bread-and-butter,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “He got the puck in the high slot and I couldn’t ask for a better guy to be there in that situation and he gets them in different ways. He has great hands in front of the net. I’m happy for him. It’s great for him.”

Meanwhile, Lee pushed the credit onto his teammates.  

“[This milestone] means that I’ve been fortunate enough to have incredible teammates this whole ride,” Lee said.”

Notre Dame (11-4, 7-1 CCHA) jumped out to a quick two-goal lead, when they scored a power play goal 35 seconds into the second period. Sophomore defenseman Robbie Russo ripped a slap shot that rang off the crossbar and rebounded right to freshman left winger Mario Lucia, who put in the wide-open right side. After conceding a goal to the Lakers (7-9, 4-6) to make it 2-1, the Irish got another power play goal in the eighth minute of the second period. 

“Yeah we blew [the power play] up,” Jackson said. “We got some different personnel on it. I wish we had got one more with that four on three in the third, but it was good to see a little production. I think that the one thing we identified is that we were operating with one unit that was generating scoring opportunities. So basically we were wasting a minute of every power-play and we needed another group to be effective, and I think both were tonight.”

Russo again was the catalyst for the third goal. Russo received the puck at the blue line from junior center T.J. Tynan and took a wrist shot at the net. Junior right winger Mike Voran was posted in front of the net and deflected the shot in over Murdock’s shoulder. 

The Lakers battled back and scored late in the second period and hounded to get the equalizer in the third, but junior goaltender Steven Summerhays came up with some clutch saves. With three minutes left, Summerhays made a sprawling stick save to his left in order to keep Notre Dame’s one goal lead and the win. 

“It wasn’t his best performance,” Jackson said. “A year ago I might have pulled him, but not now. He’s got to learn how to play these kinds of games and fight through it, and he did and he made some big plays in the third.”

The Irish did not let Lake Superior State have a chance in the game Saturday, as the Irish scored four goals in the first period on their way to a 6-1 win.

Lucia, in his sixth game back from an injury, tallied two goals, adding to Notre Dame’s recent burst in offense. In the last six games, the Irish have scored 22 times with a 5-1 record.  

“It’s a collective effort,” Jackson said. “We are doing a good job transitioning, creating offense from defense and our power play has been gaining steam. When Lucia came back and Costello got healthy, I think that helped us. It solidified some offensive type of lines.”  

Junior Defenseman Shayne Taker earned three assists in the game. Junior defenseman Stephen Johns and Russo lead the Irish in assists with seven and eight assists, respectively. 

“We encourage [the defensemen] to be offensive,” Jackson said. “I didn’t think Shayne [Taker] played a great game [Friday] and I talked to him about it but he came back and responded in a positive way.”

Senior goaltender Mike Johnson got the start Saturday, but was unable to finish the game as he was taken out on a charging penalty in the second period and was unable to continue. Johnson amassed 13 saves and a shutout. Lake Superior State’s goalie, junior Kevin Kapalka, was replaced by Murdock after giving up four goals in the first period. After the game, Jackson said Johnson should be fine and able to return. 

The Irish look to get their second home sweep of the season against Michigan State in a two-game series Friday and Saturday at the Compton Family Ice Arena.        

Contact Isaac Lorton at [email protected]