Junior goaltender Steven Summerhays made 32 saves and Notre Dame got goals from four different players as the Irish jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then held on to defeat Bowling Green, 4-3, on Friday night. The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 5,022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Eric Johnson, T.J. Tynan, Jeff Costello and Mario Lucia each had one goal with Tynan and Lucia breaking a 0-for-17 streak covering four-plus games on the power play. Ben Murphy, Brent Tate and Brett Mohler each scored second-period goals for the Falcons as they rallied from 3-0 and 3-1 deficits to get back in the game.
The win kept Notre Dames hopes for a CCHA regular-season title alive as first-place Miami fell to Ohio State and second-place Western Michigan defeated Michigan State. The three teams go into Saturday's final CCHA regular season games separated by just three points. The Irish are third with 53, the Broncos are second with 54 and Miami has 56.
Notre Dame would need a win over Bowling Green and a Miami loss coupled with a Western Michigan tie or loss to win the regular-season title. If the teams end tied with 56 points, the Irish would own the tiebreaker.
With the win, Notre Dame is now 20-12-3 overall and 16-8-3-2 in the CCHA. The Falcons are 13-17-5 on the year and 10-14-3-1 in conference play. Bowling Green is still looking to clinch a home-ice berth in the first round of the CCHA playoffs as they are tied with Michigan for seventh place. The 20-win season is the 12th in the program's history and the first for the Irish since the 2010-11 season when the Irish had 25 victories.
"It was a chippy game as far as the flow goes. They (Bowling Green) play an aggressive style, a pressure game," said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson.
"It's a tough style to play against and I thought they played well. They've got good depth up front. They are a tough team to play against. Whoever gets them in the playoffs is going to have a good go."
The Falcons took it to the Irish in the first period as they fired 15 shots on Summerhays but trailed 1-0 after the first period.
The Irish took the lead with the only goal of the first period at 8:41 when Johnson took a drop pass from Costello in the high slot and hammered a shot over starting goaltender Tommy Burke's glove hand for his second goal of the year. The play was set up at center ice as Bryan Rust forced a turnover as he was being knocked to the ice. Johnson now has a three-game point streak (1g, 2a) since Feb. 22.
In the second, the score would go to 2-0 at 2:05 of the period when Tynan snapped a personal eight-game goal-less streak and an 0-for-17 drought on the power play when his shot from the high slot found its way through a maze of players in front and got behind Burke for Tynan's ninth goal of the season. Robbie Russo and Anders Lee helped set up the goal.
"It felt good to score, especially since we've had problems scoring the second goal of the game," said Tynan.
"It was just a shot from the point that had some lucky bounces and went in. It's nice to get one like that. I don't know how it went in but I saw Anders (Lee) coming at me with his stick in the air."
"We've been working with the power play to get pucks to the net and tonight we did," said Jackson.
"We have to keep emphasizing that. I want T.J. (Tynan) to get some confidence going into the playoffs too."
The Irish lead would go to 3-0 at 5:19 when Costello drilled a wrist shot from the right circle up under the cross bar for his ninth of the season. Lee set the play up as he forced a turnover along the right boards near the circle and slipped the puck to junior left wing as he moved to the goal.
Costello's goal sent Burke to the bench in favor of Andrew Hammond and less than a minute later at 6:09, the Falcons broke through on Summerhays as Murphy scored on the power play for his fifth goal of the season to cut the Notre Dame lead to 3-1.
After breaking through with Tynan's power-play goal, the Irish wanted more and Lucia was able to oblige them when he scored his 11th of the season at 7:24. Defenseman Shayne Taker and Sam Calabrese moved the puck from the left boards to center where Calabrese slid a pass to Lucia at the top of the right circle. The freshman wasted little time, snapping a one-timer past Hammond to restore the three-goal lead at 4-1.
The pesky Falcons had something more to say though and would score a pair before the second period came to an end.
Tate cut the led to 4-2 at 15:24 on the power play when he banged the rebound of a Dan DeSalvo shot past Summerhays for his fourth goal of the season.
Mohler made it a one-goal game just 1:01 later at 16:25 when he beat Summerhays on a wrap-around goal, banking the puck off Summerhays and inside the left post for his fourth goal of the season.
"Those kind of goals are unacceptable. That's something we have to eliminate." said Summerhays.
"It took a bounce off my skate and then off my hip and went in. We were lucky to have four goals at the time.
Notre Dame entered the night with a 16-0-0 mark when leading after two periods and they were able to keep that perfect mark in tact over the final 20 minutes as they tightened up defensively and Summerhays stopped all 10 shots he faced to close out the Falcons with a 4-3 win.
The Irish were out shot in the game for just the ninth time this season by a 35-25 margin. Burke made eight saves in his 25:14 and Hammond stopped 13 in his 33:19 of action. Notre Dame was 2-for-3 on the power play while the Falcons were 2-for-4 on the night.
The two teams will meet at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday night in the final CCHA regular-season game ever between the two schools. The Irish will honor their five-man senior class prior to the start of the game on Senior Night.
** IRISH NOTES **
** With the win, Notre Dame is now 13-1-1 versus the Falcons at home since the start of the 2005-06 season. The Irish are 2-1-0 against Bowling Green in the series this season.
** Prior to Tynan's power-play goal, the last one scored by the Irish came on Feb. 9 versus Michigan.
** Notre Dame is now 8-4-0 in one goal games this season.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F
Bowling Green (13-17-5/10-14-3-1) 0 3 0 - 3
#12/#11 Notre Dame (20-12-3/16-8-3-2) 1 3 0 - 4