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Hockey: Irish shut down Broncos

Isaac Lorton | Sunday, October 13, 2013

The No. 8 Irish blanked No. 18 Western Michigan twice this weekend, winning 4-0 Friday at Compton Family Ice Arena and 3-0 Saturday at the Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Irish senior goaltender Steven Summerhays racked up 22 saves each night, on the way to two Notre Dame shutouts over the Broncos (0-2-0).

In Friday’s game, Notre Dame (2-0-0) took an early 1-0 lead in the first period, had a stagnant second period and then exploded in the third.

Freshman Vince Hinostroza was the catalyst for the first Irish goal 5:36 into the first period. In the closing seconds of an Irish power play, Hinostroza got the puck from senior defenseman Shayne Taker at the left circle, where he fired a low wrist shot to the front of the net. The puck deflected off of the skate of junior right wing Austin Wuthrich and went past senior Broncos’ goaltender Frank Slubowski. Wuthrich picked up Notre Dame’s first goal of the season and his 13th career goal.

“It was good to get the first one out of the way,” Wuthrich said. “Vinnie [Hinostroza] had the puck on the half wall and moved it towards the middle. I think he was trying to hit [senior left wing and captain] Jeff Costello on the back door but it hit my skate. I turned around and it was in the net. … I got a lucky bounce.”

Slubowski, who had 28 saves on the night, then shut down Notre Dame’s scoring opportunities until the third period. In the final period, Notre Dame mustered three more goals, including an empty-netter, despite having to stave off a 6-3 penalty kill for 1:18 with four minutes left in the game. Notre Dame had 21 blocked shots on the night.

“We played really well defensively and to see that effort the entire game on the penalty kill was outstanding. We did a great job blocking shots, especially on the 6-on-3,” Summerhays said.  “I think that is the most blocked shots I have seen from our team since I have been here.”

Both Hinostroza and Wuthrich had one goal and one assist on the night, while Taker racked up two assists. Hinostroza received a crisp pass from sophomore defenseman Eric Johnson, and one-timed the puck past Slubowski into the upper left corner to give the Irish a 2-0 lead at 2:13 in the third. The Irish picked up their second power-play goal at 13:12, when Wuthrich passed the puck to Taker at the point, who took a wrist shot to the front of the net, where Costello got a stick on it and deflected it in for the 3-0 lead. 

With 4:43 left in the game, senior right wing Mike Voran was called for tripping and at 4:01 senior defenseman Kevin Lind was called for slashing to give Western Michigan a 5-3 man advantage. The Broncos pulled Slubowski for a 3-1 advantage. The Irish held strong, killing the first penalty. Senior defenseman Robbie Russo then blocked a shot and deposited the puck down the ice into the back of the empty net for a short-handed goal and a 4-0 lead.

“We’ve barely had a chance to practice our five-on-three penalty killing,” Jackson said. “That’s where having veteran players who have done it before helps. They were committed to blocking shots. I was very happy for (Steven) Summerhays to get the shutout because he made some great saves early when we needed them.”

Saturday’s game, which took place in front of a sold out crowd of 4,114 in Kalamazoo, was similar to Friday’s matchup. The Irish scored early in the second period and then netted two insurance goals in the third period.

“It was a more challenging and gritty game [on Saturday],” Jackson said. “They came out strong. We weathered the storm in the early part of the game, got through the first and scored from there in the second.”

Western Michigan outshot the Irish 9-8 in the first period, but the Irish retaliated in the second with a 20-1 shot advantage. Irish sophomore center Thomas DiPauli netted Notre Dame’s first goal four minutes into the second period. Junior right wing Peter Schneider was able to force a turnover in the offensive third and passed the puck back to Taker. Taker hit DiPauli with a pass, and Dipauli put it home for a 1-0 Irish lead. Jackson said the goal came from the extraordinary effort of Schneider and Hinostroza.

“It was good to see that from Schneider,” Jackson said. “We need to finish on all of those opportunities. Guys need to make plays. It comes from the breakout, when we don’t have the puck.”

The Irish took a 2-0 early in the third, just 57 seconds into the final period. Taker, who had four assists on the weekend, took a shot from the point and sophomore left wing Sam Herr deflected it over the shoulder of Slubowski and into the net. Slubowski had 38 saves on Saturday. The Irish were 1-of-9 on the power play Saturday and 2-of-9 Friday.

“We need to capitalize on the power play, “Jackson said. “We have only practiced it two or three times, but it was good to see us get one.”

Notre Dame picked up its second empty-netter on the weekend when Lind posited a goal to ice the game and seal the 3-0 Irish victory with 46 seconds left.

The Irish next host Michigan Tech at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday at 7:35 p.m. and Sunday at 2:05 p.m.        

Contact Isaac Lorton at [email protected]