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Offense rolls in sweep

| Monday, January 20, 2014

Momentum – both shifting it and sustaining it – proved to be the difference in No. 15 Notre Dame’s 6-3 win Friday and 4-2 win Saturday over Lake Superior State at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish (14-8-1) scored three goals within four minutes in both its wins to help secure the sweep over the Lakers (11-12-1).

After falling behind, 1-0, with less than a minute remaining in the first period in Saturday’s game, the Irish scored three times in the second period. Irish sophomore forward Steven Fogarty evened the game when he scored on a two-on-one rush through the five hole of Laker senior goaltender Kevin Murdock with 9:00 left in the period.

Fogarty gave Notre Dame the lead just 36 seconds later when he buried a rebound off a slap shot from Irish junior forward Peter Schneider. With 5:39 left in the period, Irish sophomore forward Mario Lucia scored a backhand shot on the doorstep off a feed from freshman forward Vince Hinostroza.

“I think the important thing was the response when they scored the goal; we came back. That’s a good sign for us,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “I think it’s good that we have the ability if we score a goal to come back and put the pressure right back on, but I thought that was the most important time of the game, that goal after they scored.”

The Lakers cut the deficit to 3-2 with 10:43 remaining in regulation when redshirt freshman forward Matt Johnson slipped the puck between the post and Irish senior goaltender Steven Summerhays on a shot near the boards. But on the very next shift, Schneider found the back of the net to give Notre Dame breathing room again.

“We call those momentum shifts – right after we score or get scored on,” Schneider said. “The next shift is very important; it creates a lot of momentum. So when you get out there, you just try to play responsible and obviously try to put pressure on the opponent, so when you get scored on you have a response or when you score that you keep the momentum going.”

The Irish scored four goals in the third period Friday night to come from behind after trailing 3-2 at the second intermission.

Notre Dame tied the game at three with 10:06 remaining when junior forward Austin Wuthrich capitalized on a rebound after Murdock dropped a shot from Hinostroza.

“I think we got momentum when we tied the game,” Jackson said. “It was the first time we were actually skating, it seemed like. But they played a smart and patient game and they forced us to turn pucks over and you get frustrated. And I think that we tied the game and then we got some momentum.”

Irish sophomore forward Sam Herr scored the game-winner with 5:45 left after he stripped the puck from Laker sophomore forward Bryce Schmitt on a backcheck. Herr then utilized a give-and-go with Irish senior forward T.J. Tynan to get a scoring opportunity near the crease and converted through Murdock’s five hole.

Just over a minute later, Lucia added a tally on a shot from near the blue line, and Herr put the icing on the cake a minute and seven seconds later after that when he scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway.

“They’re not a really over-aggressive team,” Herr said. “They like to sit back and wait for mistakes so we had to be really patient and capitalize on their mistakes this time and that’s what we did and we got a couple of quick ones back-to-back-to-back so that was nice.”

Wuthrich opened Friday’s scoring with a first-period goal. The Lakers tallied the next two goals before Irish senior forward and captain Jeff Costello tied the game midway through the second period. Laker junior defenseman Kevin Czuczman gave his team its last lead of the game on a slap shot from the point with 1:59 remaining in the second period.

The Irish now return to Hockey East-play after a four-game nonconference stretch. They will try to extend their four-game winning streak with games against Northeastern on Friday and Saturday in the Compton Family Ice Arena. But the Irish could be without junior defenseman Robbie Russo. Russo missed the Laker series because he was not certified academically for eligibility as he tries to get a grade changed in a class, Jackson said. Russo’s status for the rest of the season should be known by next weekend.

Steven Fogarty pushes the puck ahead against Lake Superior State on Saturday, a 4-2 Irish win. Fogarty scored two goals in the game.MICHAEL YU
Steven Fogarty pushes the puck ahead against Lake Superior State on Saturday, a 4-2 Irish win. Fogarty scored two goals in the game.
“It’s going to get tougher,” Jackson said. “The rest of the year we’re playing for points and we’re playing the top teams in our conference and it’s going to get a lot tougher. So we’re going to have to be even better.”

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