A little home cooking was just what the doctor ordered to help Notre Dame snap its two-game losing streak on Friday night versus Alabama Huntsville in the second semifinal of the Shillelagh Tournament.
The Irish snapped a two-game losing streak on the strength of a 5-2 win over Alabama Huntsville in front of a crowd of 4,613 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The win improved Notre Dame to 6-1-1 at home this season and 13-1-1 over the last 15 home contests.
The line of Jeff Costello (two assists), T.J. Tynan (1g, 2a) and Bryan Rust (three assists) paced the Irish attack with eight points on the night. Three Irish defensemen - Andy Ryan, Stephen Johns and Robbie Russo (1g, 2a) scored one goal each while Mario Lucia added a solo goal. Junior center Jeff Vanderlugt scored both of the Chargers goals on the night.
Notre Dame peppered Alabama Huntsville's Matt Larose with a season-high 44 shots in the game and the freshman stopped 39 of them. Irish freshman Chad Katunar, making his second collegiate start, picked up his first career win as he stopped 13 of the 15 shots the Chargers took in the game.
The victory improves #10/#11 Notre Dame to 9-5-1 on the season while Alabama Huntsville falls to 0-13-0 on the season.
The Irish will face Hockey East foe, Northeastern in the 2013 Shillelagh Tournament title game on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. The Huskies battled Western Michigan to a 1-1 tie and then got the right to move on with a 1-0 shootout win in three rounds. The Broncos will face Alabama Huntsville at 4:05 p.m. in the third-place game.
"When we got that 3-0 lead we were looking pretty good," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"We were moving the puck well and spreading the ice out well. We were getting pucks to the net and people to the net. Then once it got 3-0 we kind of slept walked for a while. I think we got cute, trying to make too many passes at times instead of getting pucks to the net."
Notre Dame got off to a fast start on Friday, getting three goals in the first period, including two just 23 seconds apart.
The first one came on the only Irish power play of the night as Ryan picked up his first collegiate goal with the man advantage just 4:08 into the game.
Tynan controlled the puck near the right wing boards and fed it across to the center point to Russo. The junior defense fired a shot on goal that Larose stopped but the rebound came to Ryan who crashed the crease from the left point and deposited the puck between the Chargers' goaltender's stick hand and the left post to make it 1-0.
The score stayed that way until the 10:19 mark when Tynan whipped a nice pass from Costello past Larose for his third goal of the year and a 2-0 lead.
"That was a pretty easy one, I didn't have to do much on that one," said Tynan.
"Jeff (Costello) made a nice pass to me after Rusty (Bryan Rust) made a nice play to get him the puck. I just shot it in. I would have been pretty upset with myself if I would have missed that one."
Just 23 seconds later Rust and Costello set up Johns for a big wrist shot from the high slot that beat Larose high to his glove side to give Notre Dame the 3-0 lead. The goal was Johns' third of the season.
"It felt good to score three pretty quick goals like that," said Rust.
"We had only scored three goals in our last three games, so it was good to get out here and score like we did tonight."
The Chargers kept working and were rewarded late in the period as they turned an Irish turnover into a goal at 19:39. Defenseman Brandon Carlson fired a shot from the right point that Katunar stopped. The rebound came out in front to Vanderlugt who backhanded the puck under the freshman's glove for his second goal of the year to cut the lead to 3-1.
Vanderlugt was at it again midway through the second period when he got Alabama Huntsville back in the game at the 10:57 mark with a power-play goal that made it 3-2.
The 6-3, 220-pound center was parked in front of the goal when Jack Prince fired a shot from the high slot. He redirected it past Katunar for his second of the night and third of the season and the Chargers were back in the contest.
"I thought Chad (Katunar) did fine tonight," said Jackson.
"One of the goals was off a shin pad. He didn't really have a chance on either goal. It was a good chance to get him experience and some confidence. Hopefully, he builds on it."
Notre Dame answered back with a big goal less than three minutes later when Lucia fired a shot from near the hash marks near the left wing boards toward the goal and the shot found its way through Larose's pads to make it 4-2 in favor of the Irish at 13:18. The goal was Lucia's sixth of the season and ties him for the team lead in that category.
The Irish were able to retake the three-goal lead at 15:54 of the second period with a short-handed goal by Russo. With Tynan and Rust working the puck deep into the Chargers' zone down a man, Russo grabbed the rebound of a shot by Rust behind the UAH goal. As he looked to center a pass in front, he instead fired the puck off the back of Larose's leg and it deflected into the goal for his third of the season. The short-handed goal, the fourth of the year for the Irish, put them back on top by a 5-2 advantage.
There was no scoring in the third period, as the Irish controlled the play, out shooting Alabama Huntsville by a 14-3 margin in the final period.
Notre Dame was 1-for-1 on the power play and has scored at least one power-play goal in 12 of its first 15 games. The Chargers were 1-for-3 on the night.
The Irish will look to take their third Shillelagh Tournament title after winning it in 2009 and 2010. Minnesota State took the 2011 championship.
** IRISH NOTES**
** With his goal and two assists, T.J. Tynan moved into 20th place on Notre Dame's all-time scoring list. He now has 49 goals and 87 assists for 136 career points.