Oct. 14, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. - What a way to start a new season. What a way to start your first year in a new conference.
That might be the best way to sum up the weekend that Notre Dame senior goaltender Steven Summerhays (Anchorage, Alaska) had as he and his Irish teammates opened the 2013-14 season with a pair of shutout wins, 4-0 and 3-0, against Western Michigan.
For his great play, Summerhays was selected as the Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week along with Providence goaltender Jon Gillies.
Summerhays got his weekend off to a good start on Friday, Oct. 11, by making 22 saves as Notre Dame rolled to a 4-0 shutout win.
On Saturday, the venue changed, as the teams moved to Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, but again Summerhays stopped all 22 shots he faced while the Irish were scoring three times on the way to a 3-0 victory over the Broncos.
The senior puck stopper is happy with the way his season started.
"You can't ask for much more to start the season. Getting two wins and two shutouts while not giving up any goals. That's a confidence booster for me and the team," says Summerhays.
"The guys were awesome in front of me all weekend. "Everyone was blocking shots and we got a couple of lucky bounces off the posts. It wasn't just defensemen. The F-3 was staying high and coming back, taking away chances and taking away passing lanes. They really looked strong."
Being named a player of the week is nothing new for Summerhays as he was a two-time goaltender of the week as a junior in the CCHA and was twice named the conference Goaltender of the Month during the 2012-13 campaign.
Summerhays is 2-0-0 with a 0.00 goals-against average and a 1.00 save percentage as the two shutouts to start the season has never happened at Notre Dame in the 46-year history of the program.
For his career, the talented goaltender has now played in 70 games for the Irish and owns a 38-24-3 record with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. The two shutouts give him eight for his career and move him into third place on the all-time list behind Jordan Pearce `09 and David Brown `07 who each have 12 in their careers.
"This was a huge weekend for him," says Irish coach Jeff Jackson.
"We've talked about it. The difference for him is in the games where he doesn't face 30-40 shots. In the past he may have given up two or three goals. Both nights he showed mental toughness; he stayed in the game when he wasn't getting many shots. That was a big step for him.
Summerhays and the Notre Dame penalty killers excelled on the weekend, killing off 11 Western Michigan power-play chances. They even had a chance to kill one that you don't see often - a six-on-three for 1:18 late in the third period as the Irish had two men in the box and Western head coach Andy Murray pulled his goaltender to give the Broncos a three-man advantage as they trailed, 3-0.
"That's a tough situation to even practice, since it doesn't happen often where you get to pull the goalie," says Summerhays.
"You have to get your breaks and have some guys block shots and they were fantastic doing it. They let me see the shots that got through and we were able to get some good clears."
This is the second time in Summerhays' career that he recorded back-to-back shutouts. The first time came during his sophomore year when he shutout Michigan State, 2-0, on Feb. 25, 2012 and followed the next week with a 2-0 blanking of Ohio State on March 2, 2012 in the opening game of the first round of the CCHA playoffs.
Taking into account a 5:07 shutout streak in his final game last season, Summerhays now has a career-best 125:06-minute shutout streak as he looks towards action this coming weekend against Michigan Tech.
The fourth-ranked Irish will face the Michigan Tech Huskies at 7:35 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 and then again at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The series marks the first time since Nov. 20, 1982 that Michigan Tech has played at Notre Dame.