Sophomore goaltender Steven Summerhays stopped all 25 shots he faced and Notre Dame got all the offense it needed on goals by Jeff Costello and Peter Schneider on the way to a 2-0 shutout win over Michigan State in front of a sellout crowd of 5,022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday night.
The win snapped a five-game Irish losing streak that started on Feb. 4 against Bowling Green. The victory was the first career shutout for Summerhays and the first by a Notre Dame goaltender since Mike Johnson blanked Michigan, 2-0, on Dec. 13, 2009. Michigan State goaltender Will Yanakeff made 30 saves on the night.
Summerhays' shutout also snapped a personal four-game losing streak for the Anchorage, Alaska native. His last win came on Jan. 20 versus Michigan.
Most importantly, the Notre Dame win kept the Irish in the hunt of home ice in the first round of the upcoming CCHA playoffs. They are now 17-15-3 overall and 12-12-3-0 in the conference, good for 39 points. Notre Dame is now tied for seventh in the standings with Northern Michigan and Ohio State. After Friday's action, the Irish have the tiebreaker with each team - conference wins - as Notre Dame has 12, Ohio State has 11 and Northern Michigan has 10.
Michigan State drops to 18-13-4 on the year and 13-11-3-2 in the CCHA. The Spartans go into the final regular-season game on Saturday in fifth place with 44 points. They are one point behind fourth-place Miami (45) and three behind second-place Michigan (47) and Western Michigan (47).
Scoring goals has been Notre Dame's problem of late and it continued in the first period as the neither teams scored. The Spartans had an 11-8 advantage in shots and Summerhays made the biggest stop of the period when he stopped Chris Forfar on a breakaway late in the period with the Irish on a power play.
A huge load was lifted off the Notre Dame offense's shoulders at 2:31 of the second period when Costello, who had missed the last seven games with an injury, scored in his return on the power play.
Defenseman Shayne Taker controlled the puck on the left point and whipped a shot on the Michigan State goal that Yanakeff stopped. Freshman right wing Austin Wuthrich managed to direct the puck towards the left circle where Costello was camped and whipped a shot inside the left post for his fourth goal of the year and a 1-0 Irish lead.
The lead was the first for Notre Dame since the 2:05 mark of the second period on Feb. 4 versus Bowling Green.
The Irish would out shoot Michigan State, 10-7 in the period with Summerhays again making a game-saving stop moments after his teammates gave him a lead. The Spartans broke in on a two-on-one with Summerhays challenging the puck carrier. A late pass gave Spartan forward Ken Walrod a wide-open shot in front that the Notre Dame goaltender managed to dive over and get his stick on with the puck bouncing to the right corner.
Another Irish streak was broken at the 9:54 mark when Schneider scored his first career goal to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead. The goal came at even-strength and was the first five-on-five goal for the Irish since 5:45 mark of the third period of the Feb. 3 game against Bowling Green. That's a span of 364:21 minutes without a five-on-five marker.
Schneider's goal came off a turnover by Yanakeff as he mishandled the puck, losing it to Kevin Nugent along the left boards. Nugent centered it to Schneider as he drove down the middle to the goal and lifted it over Yanakeff as he tried to get back to his crease. For the freshman from Vienna, Austria, the goal was his first in 20 career games.
From there the Irish carried the play most of the remainder of the period as they would out shoot the Spartans, 14-7 in the period on the way to a 32-25 edge in the game.
The Spartans were never able to control the puck long enough to pull Yanakeff for a sixth attacker as the Irish forecheck was able to bottle them up in their own zone.
The Irish were 1-for-4 on the power play while Michigan State was 0-for-3.
The two teams will close out the CCHA regular season on Saturday night in a 7:35 p.m. game at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The game will be televised by Comcast and can be seen in the South Bend area on Comcast Channel 3.