Feb. 24, 2013
Kalamazoo, Mich. - For the second consecutive evening, Notre Dame and Western Michigan played a tight checking, stellar goaltended game as the two teams battled to a 1-1 overtime tie on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 4,051 at Lawson Arena. This time, though, the Irish were on the winning side of the post-overtime shootout as they picked up the extra point in the standings with a 2-0 shootout win.
All the scoring came in the first period as Notre Dame got its goal from junior right wing Bryan Rust who had a goal in each game of the series. The Broncos answered with a power-play goal off the stick of Mike Cichy.
In the shootout, the Irish got goals from Rust and Anders Lee while goaltender Steven Summerhays was stopping both Bronco shots he faced to gain the extra point and give the teams a weekend split after the teams tied 3-3 on Friday night with Western Michigan getting the extra point with a 2-1 shootout win.
Goaltending was a major factor in the game as Summerhays kicked out 25-of-26 shots in 65 minutes of action while the Broncos' Frank Slubowski had a 37-save night.
The two points gained in the shootout win coupled with Ohio State's 6-3 loss to Michigan clinched third place for the Irish who will now have home ice in the quarterfinal round of the CCHA playoffs March 15-17 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Notre Dame, ranked 11th in both polls, is now 19-12-3 overall and 15-8-3-2 in the CCHA, good for 50 points. The eighth-ranked Broncos are now 18-8-8 on the year and 14-6-6-3 in league play and have 51 points in second place. Miami has 56 points on the season and is in first place in the conference.
"These were two tough games," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"For us to come on the road and take three points is really huge for us. Our guys played hard this weekend and I thought we played two real good games."
The Irish got off to a fast start in game two of the series, getting 15 shots in the first period and scored first on the night at 10:38 with Rust getting his 12th goal of the season.
Off a face off to the left of Slubowski in the Western zone, Lee won the draw back to defenseman Eric Johnson who found Rust alone in front of the Bronco goaltender. Rust fired a quick shot that Slubowski stopped but got his own rebound and flipped it inside the right post to give Notre Dame the 1-0 lead. For Johnson, his assist was his second on the weekend.
While the Irish dominated play through the first 15 minutes of the stanza, the Broncos were able to put their power play to work three times in the final five minutes and netted their only goal at 16:16 with Cichy scoring from the slot with a wrist shot over Summerhays' blocker and inside the left post to make it 1-1. The goal was Cichy's fourth of the year.
From there it was all about goaltending as Slubowksi made 28 of his 37 saves in the first two periods. Summerhays was strong on the penalty kill as the Irish stopped the next five chances that Western Michigan had in the game after Cichy's goal. The Broncos were 1-for-6 with the man advantage while the Irish were 0-for-3.
"Steven (Summerhays) is starting to come around again. That's why I came back with him tonight," said Jackson.
"He played good last night and tonight he was even better. I want to keep playing him so he can get his confidence up and tonight, I thought he was the difference."
In the shootout, the Broncos shot first with Cichy shooting first. He came in on Summerhays and tried to beat him with a backhander to his blocker side but the Irish goaltender made the stop.
Rust shot first for Notre Dame and came down the middle, faking to his backhand and pulling it to his forehand before beating Slubowski inside the right post.
Mike Leone took Western's second shot and he tried to make a move on Summerhays but had nothing left to shoot at and fired it wide.
Lee could lock up the point for the Irish when he shot second for the Irish and put the game away when he beat Slubowski with a quick shot through the five-hole from the low slot to secure the point in the standings.
"The shootouts are fun when you win," said Lee who scored the clinching goal.
"Last night, I thought we played a really good road game. We came from behind by a goal three times and then lost the shootout. It feels like you lost the game. That's the down side of it."
The Irish will close out the final regular season of play in the CCHA next weekend when they play host to Bowling Green on March 1-2 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Friday's game has a 7:35 p.m. start with Saturday's Senior Night festivities starting at 7:05 p.m.
"We took a step as a team this weekend," said Lee.
"We played a lot better. We played more good periods than we did bad. Towards the end of the season we want to put a full game together and we want to get a head of steam rolling into the playoffs. That's what we are looking for. Playing one of the top teams in the country and coming out of here with two ties is pretty good for us."
** IRISH NOTES **
** With the two ties on the weekend, Notre Dame is now 1-4-4 in its last nine game played at Lawson Arena since the 2007-08 season. The lone Irish win came on Feb. 25, 2011, a 3-2 win. All-time, Notre Dame is 11-25-8 at Lawson Arena.
** Junior left wing Bryan Rust had a big weekend for the Irish as he scored one regulation goal in each game this weekend and one goal in each of the shootouts. Only the regulation goals count in his season stats and he now has a career-high 12 goals on the year.
** After going the entire season without an overtime game, the Irish have had three in February with all three ending in a tie. In the three shootouts, Notre Dame is 2-1. All-time the Irish are 9-10 in shootouts since the CCHA started them in the 2008-09 season.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 OT - F #11/#11 Notre Dame (19-12-3/15-8-3-2) 1 0 0 0 - 1 #7/#8 Western Michigan (18-8-8/14-6-6-3) 1 0 0 0 - 1Scoring First Period: ND: Bryan Rust 12 (Eric Johnson, Anders Lee), 10:38; WMU: Mike Cichy 4 (Dan DeKeyser, Luke Witkowski), PPG, 16:16.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; WMU: 0 for 0 minutes.
Second Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; WMU: 4 for 8 minutes.
Third Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; WMU: 2 for 4 minutes.
Overtime: No Scoring
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; WMU: 0 for 0 minutes.
Shootout: (ND Wins, 2-0, in two rounds) WMU - Mike Cichy - save Summerhays ND - Bryan Rust - goal WMU - Mike Leone - shot wide ND - Anders Lee - goal
Shots On Goal: Notre Dame 15 - 14 - 5 - 4 - 38 Western Michigan 8 - 10 - 6 - 2 - 26
Goaltender Saves: ND: Steven Summerhays (65:00) 7 - 10 - 6 - 2 - 25 WMU: Frank Slubowski (64:52) 14 - 14 - 5 - 4 - 37
Power Plays: ND: 0 for 3 WMU: 1 for 6
Attendance: 4,051 (sellout)