Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays stopped all 19 shots he faced for his second consecutive shutout and the Irish got goals from Austin Wuthrich and Stephen Johns as they blanked Boston University, 2-0, in front of 4,669 at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday night.
The shutout was Summerhays' seventh of the season which is tops in the nation and gives him a Notre Dame school record of 13 as he passes David Brown `07 and Jordan Pearce `09 who held the mark with 12.
"I think I only had two shutouts in juniors, so I've never really been known for shutouts," said Summerhays.
"I think shutouts are more of a team stat, more of a team defensive stat. It's always nice to get zeroes I guess."
The win clinches home ice for the Irish in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs that will start with a single-elimination round the weekend of March 7-8.
For the season, Notre Dame is now 18-12-2 overall and 7-9-2 in Hockey East, good for 16 points and a tie for seventh place with Vermont in the league standings. The Catamounts have one game in hand (18-17). The win extended the Irish unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1) since Feb. 8.
Boston University saw its losing streak go to four games and its winless streak eight (0-6-2) with the loss. The Terriers are now 8-19-4 on the season and 3-11-3 in Hockey East. They are in 10th place with nine points.
Irish head coach Jeff Jackson was not surprised by the low-scoring game on Friday night.
"BU does a good job in the defensive zone. They block a lot of shots. They get their sticks on a lot of shots," said Jackson.
"I thought we had some good scoring chances that we never really got a shot off or missed the net. We have to get those pucks to the net. It was a frustrating night but they made it that way."
For the second game in a row, Notre Dame got a big goal from its fourth line as Austin Wuthrich and Thomas DiPauli teamed up at the 9:51 mark of the first period to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Freshman left wing Ali Thomas moved the puck up the left side and into the BU zone to DiPauli. The speedy center tracked it down and slid a pass to Wuthrich in the slot. Terrier netminder Matt O'Connor made the pad save, but Wuthrich followed the rebound and flipped in past O'Connor for his fifth of the year and the 1-0 lead.
"That was a huge goal to get from that line. That was a makeshift line because of the injury to David Gerths," said Jackson.
"Tommy DiPauli did a good job at center and Ali Thomas played a good game too. Austin Wuthrich has been playing well over the last few weeks. We've been shifting him around but that line was really important to our game tonight."
It didn't take quite as long in the second period for the Irish to get their second goal of the night as Johns fired a shot from the right wing that eluded O'Connor just inside the far post just 19 seconds into the middle stanza.
Johns took a pass from Sam Herr and moved down the right side with the puck. As the Boston University defense backed off, he kept moving down the boards before whipping a shot/pass across the goalmouth as Bryan Rust drove the far post. The shot made it past O'Connor and inside the pipe for Johns' career-high fifth goal of the season.
"One of the things we wanted to do this weekend was have our weak side D join the rush when possible," said Johns.
"I saw an opening and Sammy (Herr) chipped me the puck. I wasn't trying to shoot. I was trying to make an off-pad pass to Rusty (Bryan Rust) on the net. Fortunately it went in. Finally one went in for me. I have been shooting enough."
The second period proved to be a tight-checking, defensive one as BU outshot the Irish, 3-2, over the 20 minutes.
The third period saw things pick up offensively as the Terriers out shot Notre Dame by a 10-9 margin with neither team able to score, but Summerhays was able to make the stops he needed to preserve the win.
"Steven (Summerhays) has played really well here in the last three weeks and that's extremely important for the rest of the season," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"I'm happy for him (getting the shutout record) but there are still some bigger goals left to achieve."
Ironically, for Summerhays, he and Pearce share the same hometown - Anchorage, Alaska, and the former Irish goaltender was one that the current Irish puck stopper looked up to growing up.
"I grew up idolizing him (Jordan Pearce) and my cousin played with him on the National Team Developmental Program," explained Summerhays.
"I watched him a lot growing up and I always wanted to come here and be just like Jordan was what I would always say. It was always awesome to be mentioned in the same category as him."
For the game, the Irish outshot Boston University by a 20-19 margin. O'Connor finished with 18 saves in the game.
The Terriers were 0-for-4 on the power play while Notre Dame was 0-for-3.
The two teams will meet in the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. For Notre Dame it is Senior Day as the Irish will honor their 11-player senior class and their parents prior to the start of the game.
** With his second straight shutout, Steven Summerhays has extended his current shutout streak to 131:11. This is the second time this season that Summerhays has pitched back-to-back shutouts. He opened the year with a home-and-home shutout with Western Michigan, blanking the Broncos, 4-0 in the season opener at home and then 3-0 at Kalamazoo.
** With seven shutouts this season, Steven Summerhays is one off the school record of eight set by Jordan Pearce `09, in the 2008-09 season.
** Notre Dame's penalty-killing unit has killed off 11 consecutive opponent power plays. Since Jan. 1, the Irish have killed 49-of-54 for a 90.7% success rate over the last 14 games.