Irish go as goaltender Summerhays goes
Jack Hefferon | Monday, January 27, 2014
Coming down the stretch of its schedule with nine games left to play, No. 14 Notre Dame will need to finish the regular season off strong if it wants to improve its postseason prospects.
And lately, as senior goaltender Steven Summerhays has gone, the Irish have gone, as well.
This weekend’s series against No. 10 Northeastern was a model of Summerhays’ impact. On Friday night, Summerhays allowed four goals on seven shots (albeit several from high-scoring areas) and was pulled by Irish coach Jeff Jackson in the second period to shake the team up. Freshman Chad Katunar came in to make seven saves and stop the bleeding, but the Irish came up well short in a 4-0 loss.
“I think if you’re a goaltender, you’re gonna have those games,” Summerhays said following the loss. “Even the pro guys get pulled quite often, so it’s something that comes with the position. Sometimes you’re not playing the best you can and sometimes it’s to shake the team up. It’s one of those things that does wake you up and get you out of your comfort zone, but then, at the same time, you’ve got to turn the page and move forward.”
Despite Friday’s performance, Jackson chose to stick with his two-year starter, putting Summerhays back in net on Saturday night. Summerhays responded to that trust with flying colors, following up his three-save showing with a 36-save masterpiece to lead the Irish to a 3-0 victory. The shutout was Summerhays’ fifth of the season, which leads all NCAA goalies.
After Saturday’s turnaround, Summerhays said he needed a response following his showing on Friday.
“Yeah, it was definitely a challenge. [Jackson] was showing he had the confidence in me to play me again tonight,” Summerhays said. “He asked me how I thought the game went and obviously not the ideal way I wanted it to go, but I said I was ready to go [Saturday], and that it’d be a different game.
“He challenged me and I was able to respond to that, which is always good.”
Going forward, Notre Dame (15-9-1, 4-6-1 Hockey East) will need the senior to continue anchoring the team from the crease. The Irish currently sit in eighth place in Hockey East and have earned just nine points in 11 conference games. A series split with second-place Northeastern (15-8-3, 8-5-1) was a step in the right direction, but Summerhays said the team needs to continue to build towards the postseason.
“To turn around and shut them out is great for our confidence in the league,” he said. “I’m sure they’re going to be there at the Hockey East playoffs at the end of the year if they continue to play how they are. So to be able to end the homestretch with a win before we go on the road next weekend is definitely big for us, and hopefully we can build on it going forward.”
Summerhays and the Irish square off with New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H.