NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Senior right wing Bryan Rust recorded the first hat trick of his Notre Dame career and he and linemate T.J. Tynan had four-point games to lead the Irish to a 7-1 win over Alabama Huntsville on Friday night at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Both Rust and Tynan equaled career highs with the four-point games and the third member of their line, sophomore Sam Herr added a goal and an assist, giving the line five goals and five assists for 10 points in the game. Robbie Russo and Vince Hinostroza added the other Notre Dame goals. Matt Salhany scored the lone Charger goal in the game.
Freshman goaltender Chad Katunar made his third career start and stopped 16-of-17 shots he faced in 55:03 of playing time to improve his record to 2-1-0. Senior Joe Rogers, making just his third career appearance, played the final 4:57, stopping the only shot he faced. Freshman Matt Larose made 30 saves in the UAH goal.
The win, snapped a two-game Notre Dame losing streak that started on Dec. 7 with a 3-2 loss to Massachusetts at home. The last time the Irish won at home was on Dec. 6, a span of 36 days that included the break for finals and the Christmas holidays. The 15th-ranked Irish are now 11-8-1 on the season. Alabama Huntsville dropped its seventh straight game and is now 1-22-0 on the season.
"I thought we started off a little bit tentative tonight for whatever reason," said Irish coach Jeff Jackson.
"We picked it up in the second period. When we can roll four lines, which means staying out of the penalty box, our depth shows up. We played with much better discipline tonight. There weren't many penalties and it allowed us to play everyone."
The Irish wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard as they made it 1-0 just 38 seconds into the game as Russo fired a high wrist shot past Larose from the right face-off dot for his fifth goal of the season. David Gerths and Kevin Lind picked up assists on the goal.
The Rust-Tynan-Herr line would get their night started at 10:53 as Rust took a feed from Tynan from below the goal line and snapped a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle for his fifth of the season and a 2-0 lead.
"I think our line has unbelievable chemistry. We compete," said Rust.
"It's kind of easy when you are playing with guys who work hard and know where to be on the ice. You can get open and they make plays and you hope you can finish, which is what I was able to do tonight."
Herr would get his goal at 12:58 on the power play as Tynan again worked his magic from the goal line to the left of Larose. With Herr planted in the slot, Tynan walked the puck from behind the goal and put it on the sophomore left wing's stick. As he was being cross-checked to the ice, Herr ripped a wrist shot past Larose for his ninth goal of the season to give the Irish a 3-0 lead.
"I thought that line played well at BC last weekend," said Jackson.
"Bryan (Rust) is scoring goals now. He's finishing. He was getting chances earlier that just weren't going in. He's played two of his best games in the last two. Those things tend to even out over the season. It was good to see T.J. (Tynan) start scoring goals too."
Notre Dame would add three more in the middle stanza with Rust, Tynan and Hinostroza doing the honors.
Rust added his second of the night as he stick handled through traffic in front of the net and lifted a back hander past Larose at 9:43 with Shayne Taker picking up the lone assist. The goal was Rust's sixth of the season and made it 4-0.
Tynan would get the second Irish power-play goal of the night (2-for-4) when he deflected a Russo slap shot from the point past Larose at 12:24 for his fifth of the season to make it 5-0.
Hinostroza closed out the scoring as he jumped a loose puck in the crease and slid it home at 19:06 for his fifth of the season. Mario Lucia ripped a shot from the left circle that went off Larose's glove and over his shoulder and into the crease where Hinostroza finished it off.
The Chargers never quit on the night and finally broke through to snap Katunar's shutout bid at 3:48 of the final period. Center Brent Fletcher one-timed a shot from the left circle that hit the post behind the freshman goaltender and came out in front to Salhany who banged it home for his third goal of the season to make it 6-1.
Rust then closed out his hat trick with the lone Irish goal of the third period as he skated down the right side and cut in front before back handing a shot over Larose's glove at 6:25 for his seventh of the year and the final score of 7-1. Tynan picked up the lone assist on the goal.
"The last time I had a hat trick was midget hockey. I was 16 the last time I had a hat trick," said Rust.
For the night, the Irish peppered the Alabama Huntsville goal with 37 shots while the Chargers were getting 18 shots in the game.
Notre Dame was 2-for-4 on the power play while UAH was 0-2.
The two teams will close out the series on Saturday night with a 7:05 game at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Jackson knows that his team has to be ready for game two of the series.
"Every time they play, the second night is a one-goal game no matter who they are playing. They don't give up, they keep on playing," said Jackson.
"That team plays hard. We are going to have to be prepared to focus on tomorrow night."
** IRISH NOTES**
** In the last two games, the line of Bryan Rust (4g, 2a), T.J. Tynan (2g, 4a) and Sam Herr (1g, 3a) have combined for seven goals and nine assists for 16 points.
** The win improved the Irish to 8-3-1 at home this season and 15-3-1 at the Compton Family Ice Arena since Jan. 26 of last season.