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Hockey: Hockey splits with Vermont

Isaac Lorton | Sunday, November 3, 2013


The No. 2 Irish split its Hockey East debut series with Vermont, losing 2-1 on Friday and earning a 3-2 comeback victory Saturday.

The Catamounts (2-2-1, 1-1-0 Hockey East) celebrated their program’s 50th anniversary on Friday and their performance reflected the big night, Irish coach Jeff Jackson said.

“I thought Vermont played well [Friday],” Jackson said. “It was a big weekend for them. They were hyped up and put a lot of pressure on us. … We didn’t handle their pressure.”

Notre Dame (6-2-0, 1-1-0) gave up a late power-play goal in the third period to Vermont freshman forward Mario Puskarich and the Catamounts held on for the 2-1 win. With 1:44 remaining in regulation, Catamounts senior forward Chris McCarthy passed the puck to Puskarich at the goal line. Puskarich waited and then slipped the puck past Irish senior goaltender Steven Summerhays and into the net for the game-winner. Summerhays had 17 saves on Friday while Vermont freshman goaltender Mike Santaguida notched 20.

“The game-winning goal on Friday was not a good goal to give up for Steven [Summerhays],” Jackson said.

The Catamounts grabbed the early 1-0 lead Friday on a McCarthy goal with 1:42 left in the first period, his second of the season. The Irish responded only 1:52 into the second period on a shorthanded goal from senior right winger Bryan Rust to tie the game at 1-1. The goal was Rust’s first this season. The game remained tied until Puskarich’s late power-play goal.     

Vermont was 1-for-4 on their power play Friday, while the Irish went 0-for-6.

“We had a hard time getting our power play going,” Jackson said. “It looked a little better on Saturday than it did on Friday, but we still managed not to score.”

On Saturday, the Irish overcame a 2-0 deficit in order to pull out a 3-2 win over Vermont and get their first Hockey East victory.

“I was proud of our team coming back [on Saturday],” Jackson said. “The positive thing is that we didn’t put our heads down once we got down 2-0. We hung around and hung around and found our way into the game again.”

The Catamounts scored an early goal and added a second with less than a minute remaining in the opening period to take an early 2-0 lead over the Irish. Vermont sophomore forward Robert Polesello beat Summerhays with a wrist shot through traffic to the left post for the first score 2:41 into the contest, while senior H.T. Lenz beat Summerhays top shelf with 43 seconds remaining in the first.

Irish senior defenseman Stephen Johns cut the lead in half on a coast-to-coast effort 2:51 into the second stanza. Johns beat a Vermont defenseman and ticked a backhander past Santaguida to make the game 2-1.

“It was a great goal from [Johns],” Jackson said. “His goal gave us some life and kept us in the game.”

Sophomore left wing Sam Herr then took over in the third period with a two-goal effort within the span of 1:02. 13:18 into the final period, Herr beat Santaguida over his right shoulder to tie the game at 2-2. At 14:20, on a similar setup, Herr received the puck on the left wing and beat Santaguida low to the right post.

“[Herr] was playing pretty well early on, so I started double shifting him a bit,” Jackson said. “The additional ice time got his juices going and he responded in a positive way. He got the puck to the net and he was rewarded.”

Santaguida racked up 24 saves on Saturday, while Summerhays had 26.

The Irish next face off against No. 1 Minnesota with a weekend doubleheader at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Contact Isaac Lorton at [email protected]