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Hockey: Squad sweeps Bowling Green

Peter Steiner | Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Behind two hard-fought playoff victories over Bowling Green at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday night, Notre Dame won its best-of-three CCHA quarterfinal series and extended its unbeaten streak to seven games.

Notre Dame (23-12-3, 17-8-3-2 CCHA) prevailed 1-0 in overtime Friday and held off Bowling Green (15-21-5, 10-15-3-1) on Saturday with a 4-3 victory to win the series and end the Falcons’ season.

With the sweep, the Irish advance to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit where they will face Ohio State in a one-game semifinal Saturday, with the winner advancing to Sunday’s championship against either Miami or Michigan.

Hockey fans at the Compton Family Ice Arena witnessed a defensive struggle Friday night as neither team netted a goal in regulation despite 57 combined shots on goal. While the Irish could not score on Falcons junior goaltender Andrew Hammond in regulation, the Notre Dame defense held strong with Irish junior netminder Steven Summerhays recording his sixth career shutout.

“We were expecting a tight game,” Summerhays said in a postgame press conference. “We knew with Hammond … and their record in the playoffs this year and last year that it was going to be tough.

“I thought we did a great job of keeping their shots to the outside and really limiting their chances.”

Notre Dame broke the tie 82 seconds into overtime when Irish junior right wing Bryan Rust put a backhand past Hammond to win the game. The goal was Rust’s fourth game-winning goal of the season.

“I just got on the ice in a line change and was able to get open in the slot,” Rust said. “[Irish junior left wing] Jeff Costello was able to find me and I kicked the puck up to my backhand and was able to score.

“It was a real rough game, real gritty game. We played a lot of it on the boards.”

Although the Irish lit the lamp just once, the Irish outshot the Falcons 36-22. The stout defense played by both teams and the game’s atmosphere epitomized playoff hockey, Irish coach Jeff Jackson said.

“Both teams were playing hard, the goaltenders were playing well. That’s typical playoff hockey,” Jackson said.

While that atmosphere continued Saturday night, both teams found more offense than in the series opener with 34 and 32 shots on goal for Notre Dame and Bowling Green, respectively.

The Irish jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period with a power play goal from Rust at the 6:44 mark and a breakaway goal by Irish senior left wing Nick Larson six minutes later. Hammond saved Larson’s initial shot, but the senior collected the rebound and put it away to increase the Irish advantage.

“I thought we came out really well, put pressure on them and we were moving the puck out of our zone real well,” Jackson said. “[Bowling Green is] a good forechecking team and a good offensive zone team. We did a nice job against them in the early stages of the game and then a couple of penalties changed things in the second period.”

The Irish got into trouble in the second period when Irish junior defenseman Stephen Johns received two separate penalties for roughing. The Falcons capitalized with two power play goals to knot the game, 2-2.

Although the Irish let up two goals in the second period, Summerhays made a big save with 1:27 remaining in the second period during the Irish penalty kill. Falcons freshman wing Brent Tate controlled the rebound off Falcons freshman defenseman Ralfs Freibergs’ shot and tried to maneuver a forehand past Summerhays, but the Alaska-native lunged and saved the shot with his left glove.

“I felt really good this weekend,” Summerhays said. “I have been kind of building ever since Michigan and I’ve been trying to work on my game each week and get back to where I was in the first half and I think I’m there.”

The Irish regained the lead in the third period when the Irish were awarded a penalty shot after Falcons freshman defenseman Jose Delgadillo covered a puck in the crease. Jackson entrusted the chance to Rust, who put a strong backhand past Hammond for his third goal in two games.

Irish junior captain and center Anders Lee gave Notre Dame a two-goal lead when he scored his team-leading 19th goal of the year 12:05 into the third period. While the Falcons closed the gap with a goal just 13 seconds later, the Irish held on to win the game, 4-3.

With the series victory, Notre Dame returns to Joe Louis Arena after not making the CCHA semifinals last season.

“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be going back to Joe Louis in the final year of the CCHA,” Jackson said.

The Irish will face the Buckeyes in the one-game semifinal Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Contact Peter Steiner at [email protected]