Hear It From a Student - I Love Winning

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1993385220.jpg"I love winning. It's like, you know, better than losing!"

The Notre Dame hockey team can probably sympathize with Nuke LaLoosh, Tim Robbins' character in Bull Durham.

From Oct. 21 to Nov. 25, the Irish went 11 games without losing, playing six ranked teams during that span. A four-game losing streak dropped them to 10-6-3 heading into last Saturday's home game against Ferris State.

The Bulldogs won their end of the home-and-home Friday night, 4-1, but Notre Dame returned the favor Saturday with the same score.

"I think it's a relief for all of us - for our players, for us as a staff," head coach Jeff Jackson said. "After having such a good stretch, the last four games have been pretty miserable."

The Irish were able to revert to their winning ways in a physical game that featured a healthy dose of special teams play. The officials penalized players for a combined 68 minutes, and it was a rare sight to see the boxes empty. The Irish were able to capitalize on two power plays with goals from sophomores Jeff Costello and T.J. Tynan.

"Special teams probably was the biggest difference. Goaltending's a part of that on the penalty kill, but it's also about the power play," Jackson said. "That's what we were doing when we were on a little bit of a roll."

Jackson credited goaltender Steven Summerhays, who kept the Irish ahead during the third period in his fifth start this season. The sophomore improved to 4-1 on the season. With a two-goal lead through most of the third period, Summerhays had several tremendous stops to keep the cushion.

"This was definitely up there for one of my better games for Notre Dame," Summerhays said. "Everyone pitched in and really helped and made me look better than I probably was tonight."

In addition to special teams and goaltending, Notre Dame was successful at accomplishing the little things the team had been successful at during the unbeaten streak. Riley Sheahan's 88 percent face-off advantage increased puck possession. Both Jackson and Summerhays pointed to defensive presence in front of the net, and the Irish were able to get off 63 shot attempts to generate offense.

Hopefully the team will remember the winning formula when it returns from a three-week break for finals and Christmas.

"It was a huge win. Obviously we were on a little bit of a skid and we knew that going into break, we didn't want to go in with another loss," said sophomore Mike Voran, who netted two third-period goals. "You always want to go into a break with a positive note, so having a win, you obviously feel a lot better than if you lost."

In the midst of a frustrating losing streak, Jackson's team proved the ability to win a chippy game by getting back to basics and staying disciplined. With secondary scoring, physical presence, defensive stoutness, and strong goaltending, the Irish can make the proper adjustments to rebound from a skid.

It's like, you know, better than losing.

- Craig Chval ('15)

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