March 13, 2011
Notre Dame, Ind. - First period goals by Riley Sheahan, Jeff Costello and Joe Lavin staked the Notre Dame hockey team to a 3-0 lead that it never surrendered on the way to a 4-2 win over Lake Superior State on Sunday evening at the Joyce Center. The win gives the Irish a two-to-one advantage in the best-of-three second round of the CCHA playoffs and sends them to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Friday, March 18 for a showdown with the Miami RedHawks in the CCHA semifinals.
Freshman Bryan Rust added Notre Dame's fourth goal of the night to help offset two second-period goals by Fred Cassiani and Colin Campbell that helped keep the Lakers in the game.
The win gives the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish a 23-11-5 record for the season and an 8-2-2 record since January 22. Lake Superior finishes the season with a 13-17-9 mark. Notre Dame is now 6-2 all-time in game threes of CCHA playoff series.
Game three started much like game two did as the Irish jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring twice in the first four minutes of the game. On Sunday though, they were able to add to their lead going into the first intermission.
"Tonight we scored that third goal," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"Like I said last night, a 2-0 lead is the worst lead in hockey. 3-0 is a better; it's more challenging to have to come back from. Give Lake Superior credit, they battled hard all weekend. They played a great series and made it really tough on us but I expected that."
Sheahan, who had an important goal disallowed on Saturday night, jump-started the Notre Dame offense as he opened the scoring with his fourth of the season at 3:14 of the first.
Billy Maday hit the sophomore center with a cross-rink pass from the right boards in the neutral zone and Sheahan carried it into the Laker end of the ice. He fired a shot from near the top of the left circle that beat Laker goaltender Kevin Kapalka over his glove into the upper left corner.
"That goal really was a confidence booster for the rest of the game," said Sheahan.
"I got a little bounce of a stick and it ramped up a little and hit that spot. It gave me a lot of confidence with the puck the rest of the game."
The Irish responded to that goal with another just 22 seconds later at 3:36 when Jeff Costello beat Kapalka with a slap shot from the top of the right circle for his 11th of the season.
Defenseman Shayne Taker took a pass off the right boards from Ryan Guentzel and hit Costello in stride at the Lake Superior blue line, giving the Irish a two-on-one. Using Ben Ryan as a decoy, Costello drove toward the net before blasting a shot past the freshman goaltender.
Notre Dame closed out the first period on a power play and was able to capitalize on that as Lavin scored his sixth goal of the season on a shot from the slot at 19:17, just one second before the penalty to Kyle Jean for roughing ended. Calle Ridderwall and Guentzel assisted on the goal that made it 3-0 after one period.
"I thought our sense of purpose was better tonight," explained Jackson.
"We go on this little rollercoaster ride with this group. A lot of its emotion, some of it's the pressure. They are learning how to do this for the first time. With 12 freshmen, and even our sophomores since they didn't have much of a playoff run last year, it's three-quarters of our team that's still learning. They responded to the challenge tonight and I'm really proud of them. They played a really smart game."
The second period was scoreless until the Lakers were able to break through on Mike Johnson with a power-play goal at 17:19. That then opened the floodgates as the teams combined for three goals in a span of 1:23.
Cassiani would get the power-play marker as he converted a feed from Ben Power, wristing a shot inside the right post past Johnson for his seventh goal of the season and his third in the last two games that made it 3-1.
Notre Dame answered right back, scoring 41 seconds later at the 18:00-minute mark on a tremendous, individual rush by Rust.
With the puck in the Notre Dame zone, defenseman Kevin Lind left the puck for Rust near the right circle and the freshman right wing did the rest as he flew through the neutral zone and split the defense, getting in on Kapalka to beat him in close with a highlight reel goal, his sixth of the season to restore the three-goal lead at 4-1.
The Lakers then cut the lead in half and scored 42 seconds later at 18:42 of the second. Rick Schofield stripped a Notre Dame defenseman of the puck to the left of Johnson and slipped it in front to Campbell. The freshman was able to stick handle around Johnson and slide the puck past his left toe for his fourth goal of the season.
That would be the final goal of the night as the two teams combined for just 12 shots in the third period as the Irish held on for the win. They out shot Lake Superior, 28-15 in the game. Kapalka finished with 24 saves while Johnson had 13 in picking up his 18th win of the season.
Notre Dame now gets ready to face a Miami team that they were 1-1-2 against this season at 4:35 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena on Friday. Jackson knows his team has a challenge in front of them.
"I honestly believe they (Miami) are one of the top four or five teams in the country," said Jackson.
"Michigan is right in that ballpark too. Both teams had average first halves but both are on a roll right now. It's going to be a challenge. They are an elite level hockey team and they have some great leadership. Their senior class is outstanding."
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F Lake Superior State (13-17-9) 0 2 0 - 2 #8/#8 Notre Dame (23-11-5) 3 1 0 - 4Scoring First Period: ND: Riley Sheahan 4 (Billy Maday, Stephen Johns), 3;14; ND: Jeff Costello 11 (Shayne Taker, Ryan Guentzel), 3:36; ND: Joe Lavin 6 (Calle Ridderwall, Guentzel), PPG, 19:17.
Penalties: LSSU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Penalties: LSSU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.
Third Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: LSSU: 2 for 4 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.
Shots On Goal: Lake Superior State 7 - 3 - 5 - 15 Notre Dame 11 - 10 - 7 - 28
Goaltender Saves: LSSU: Kevin Kapalka (59:22) 8 - 9 - 7 - 24 ND: Mike Johnson (60:00) 7 - 1 - 5 - 13
Power Plays: LSSU: 1 for 3 ND: 1 for 3