Junior right wing Bryan Rust scored twice, including a penalty shot while Nick Larson and Anders Lee scored solo goals to lead Notre Dame to a 4-3 win over Bowling Green in game two of the CCHA Quarterfinals on Saturday night in front of 4,912 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
The win gives the Irish a series sweep of the Falcons in the best-of- three series and sends them to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit next weekend for the final CCHA Championship Tournament.
The pesky Falcons gave Notre Dame all it could handle in the series, losing Friday's opener, 1-0, in overtime before falling by a goal in game two. Bryce Williamson led Bowling Green with two goals and an assist while Ben Murphy added the third goal of the night.
The teams traded 66 shots in the game with Notre Dame out shooting the Falcons by a 34-32 margin. Steven Summerhays stopped 29 shots in the Irish goal while Andrew Hammond had 30 for Bowling Green.
Notre Dame, ranked 12th in both national polls, extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2) since Feb. 17 and is now 23-12-3 on the season. The Falcons saw their season come to an end with a 15-21-5 record.
The Irish finish the season with a 5-1-0 mark against Bowling Green this season and since the start of the 2005-06 season are now 16-1-1 against the Falcons at home.
Notre Dame is now 4-1-0 versus the Falcons this season and since the 2005-06 campaign, the Irish own a 15-1-1 mark at home against Bowling Green. They now await their opponent for next Saturday's (March 23) semifinal game, as two series will go to a game three on Sunday. The University of Michigan advanced to Detroit by sweeping Western Michigan while Miami and Michigan State and Ohio State and Ferris State will by decided Sunday evening.
After going to overtime in Friday's game, Notre Dame scored twice in the first period to build a 2-0 lead.
"I thought we came out really well, put pressure on them and we were moving the puck out of our zone real well," said head coach Jeff Jackson.
"They (Bowling Green) are a good forechecking team and a good offensive zone team. We did a nice job against them in the early stages of the game and then a couple of penalties changed things in the second period."
Rust started the scoring at 6:44 when he scored his 14th of the year on the power play as his shot from the left side deflected off a Bowling Green defenseman's skate and got by Hammond. Lee started the play as he moved the puck from the right boards back to defenseman Robbie Russo who set up Rust in the slot.
"The puck went back to Russo and he got it to me on the side of the net," said Rust.
"I was actually trying to go back door to Anders but the puck hit one of their defensemen and went in."
The lead would go to 2-0 at 12:45 as Larson got loose on a breakaway, saw Hammond make the first save but banged his own rebound past the senior goaltender for his fourth of the season. Larson's scoring play started off a face off in front of the Notre Dame bench in the neutral zone. David Gerths won a draw to Kevin Nugent who dropped it into the Irish zone to defenseman Sam Calabrese. He found Larson who got behind the BG defense at the Falcon blue line and went in all alone on Hammond for the goal.
While the Irish got two in the first, Bowling Green returned the favor in the second with a pair of power-play goals to tie the game at 2-2.
Williamson cut the lead to 2-1 with his first of the game at 6:33 of the middle period. With two Irish defenders playing without sticks, defenseman Ralfs Friebergs found Williamson in the slot and he whipped a shot over Summerhays glove for his 11th of the season.
The Falcons tied the game at 18:42 when Ben Murphy deflected a shot from the point by Friebergs past Summerhays for his sixth of the season and after 40 minutes everything was knotted at two.
With Notre Dame on a power play near the midway point of the third, Bowling Green defenseman Jose Delgadillo covered a puck in the crease and the Irish were awarded a penalty shot.
Jackson had the option of going with a 5-on-3 power play or take the penalty shot and he went with his hot hand in Rust and the junior from Novi, Mich., did not fail as he beat Hammond with a nice backhander over his stick hand at 8:28 to give the Irish the 3-2 lead. The goal was Rust's 15th of the season and third of the series.
"We could have taken the 5-on-3 or take the shot with someone who was on the ice," said Jackson.
"I figured Rusty is pretty good and we would still have the power play. I had a couple of candidates to take the shot. I chose him (Rust) because I watch him every Thursday after practice and seen how he has performed in the shootouts."
"The backhand has been my move," explained Rust following the game.
"I have a lot of confidence in it and I knew if I got a good enough first move in that I could pull it back to my backhand and get a good enough shot off."
Lee would build the lead to 4-2 with a power-play goal at 12:05, scoring off a face off that he won in the left wing circle. He drew the puck back to Russo who fired from the point. Lee went to the net and got his stick on the puck, redirecting it past Hammond for his team-best 19th of the season.
The Falcons weren't done though as they cut the lead to 4-3 just 13 seconds later off a turnover by Summerhays behind his own goal. The Irish netminder lost the puck to Brett Mohler who centered it to Williamson who banged it into an open cage as Summerhays tried to dive back.
With 1:33 left in the game, Notre Dame's Peter Schneider was called for tripping and the Falcons would get one last chance as they pulled Hammond for a 6-on-4 power play, but Summerhays and the Irish defense were able to kill off the remaining time to preserve the win.
Notre Dame will be returning to Joe Louis Arena for the first time since 2010-11 and will be making the program's 10th trip to the CCHA tournament.
"I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to be going back to Joe Louis in the final year, of the CCHA" said Jackson.
"When I started coaching in the CCHA, playing at "The Joe," was more important than playing in the NCAA tournament. We were different than basketball where winning the league is secondary to getting to the tournament. Back in the 80s and 90s, getting to Detroit was the prize. The NCAA Tournament was the gravy."
IRISH HOCKEY NOTES:
** Bryan Rust's penalty shot was the second of the year for the Irish. On Jan. 26 versus Ferris State, Anders Lee was stopped on a penalty shot in the 5-2 win over the Bulldogs.
** The Irish are now 19-8 all-time at home in the CCHA playoffs and are 4-0 in two seasons at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F
Bowling Green (15-21-5) 0 2 1 - 3
#12/#12 Notre Dame (23-12-3) 2 0 2 - 4