ST. PAUL, Minn. - For the second consecutive year, St. Cloud State ended the Notre Dame hockey team's season in an NCAA Regional.
This time it was in dramatic fashion as senior center Nic Dowd whipped a wrist shot from the left wing circle over Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays' glove hand at 17:21 of the first overtime to give the Huskies a 4-3 overtime win against Notre Dame in a contest that saw the Irish come-from-behind three times to force overtime.
Last season, the Huskies ended Notre Dame's season with a 5-1 win in the opening game of the Midwest Regional at Toledo, Ohio.
The Irish got goals from seniors Bryan Rust and Kevin Lind and sophomore Thomas DiPauli to offset St. Cloud State goals by Ryan Papa, Brooks Bertsch and Jonny Brodzinski.
Notre Dame outshot the Huskies by a 42-28 margin, holding SCSU to just six shots in the second and third periods combined. Summerhays finished with 24 saves, including 15 in overtime as the Huskies had a 16-6 margin in extra time. Junior Ryan Faragher had 39 saves in the win.
The loss ends the season for the Irish with a 23-15-2 overall record, including an 8-3-1 mark since Feb. 8. St. Cloud State is now 22-10-5 and will meet Minnesota in the West Regional final at 6:30 p.m. (CT) on Sunday evening. The host Gophers advanced by defeating Robert Morris University, 7-3, in the opening game at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.
"I thought we played a little tentative and made some mistakes in the defensive zone early in the game," said a disappointed Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"Once we settled down we played real well, but the first 10 minutes we made some uncharacteristic mistakes. For 60 minutes we played some pretty good hockey but them we changed our game in overtime and gave St. Cloud a lot of life."
The Huskies got the first goal of the game off a pretty passing play along the Notre Dame goal line with Papa getting the goal, his sixth of the season at 6:54.
Right wing Jonny Brodzinski moved the puck along the goal line chipping it ahead to center Kalle Kossila. The sophomore from Finland pulled the Irish defenseman towards him and slid the puck across to Papa who was wide open on the right post where he flipped it into the open net for the 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame would answer at the 10:30 mark of the first with Rust getting his 17th of the season as he snapped a wrist shot past Faragher to tie the game at 1-1.
Center T.J. Tynan moved the puck up the left boards to defenseman Andy Ryan. Ryan skated the puck towards the goal line, leaving it for Rust who was curling around the left circle. Rust saw an opening and snapped his shot inside the left post to even the score.
St. Cloud would take the lead with 34.9 seconds left in the first as Bertsch was left alone in front and took a centering pass from center Cory Thornson and snapped it over Summerhays to make it 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
"Steven (Summerhays) didn't have a chance on either of those first two goals. Those were a case of defensive breakdowns," said Jackson.
"He really held us in there in the overtime. We started turning pucks over and giving up odd man rushes.
The Irish would dominate the second period, out shooting the Huskies by an 18-4 margin but could score just once.
That goal came at 8:18 of the second stanza as Lind drilled a laser beam from the right circle past Faragher to tie the game at 2-2.
The goal came off a broken play as Peter Schneider carried the puck along the left boards and centered a pass to Mario Lucia moving down the slot. Lucia fanned on the chance with the puck deflecting to Lind who was moving in from the right point where he scored his third of the year.
For the second period in a row, St. Cloud scored in the final minute of the period with this one coming on the power play with 24.5 seconds left on the clock, as the Irish could not get the puck out of the zone.
Kossila had his pass deflected to Brodzinski at the top of the left circle and the Huskies' leading scorer wasted no time whipping a shot past Summerhays and inside the right post for his 21st goal of the year to give St. Cloud the 3-2 lead. Ethan Prow also assisted on the goal.
Notre Dame got the tying goal at 9:35 of the third period on a goal by DiPauli.
Defenseman Eric Johnson fired a shot from the center point that went wide to the right of Faragher in the St. Cloud State goal. Rust was able to track down the rebound behind the goal and moved it to DiPauli on the right boards.
The sophomore left wing moved towards the goal above the goal line and while looking towards the middle of the ice fired a low wrist shot that broke through Faragher's pads for his third of the year to tie the game at 3-3.
Again the Irish dominated the period, out shooting the Huskies by a 9-2 margin. St. Cloud did not get its first shot until 3:37 remained in the third and it came on a power play.
After 60 minutes, the Irish had out shot St. Cloud State by a 36-12 margin, but the score remained tied, 3-3.
In overtime, the tide changed as the Huskies controlled the play. The Irish were forced to kill two penalties in the period and did that to keep the game tied.
On the final play, the Irish turned it over at their own blue line twice with David Morley controlling the puck. He fed the puck ahead to Dowd who finished the Notre Dame season with a perfect shot that hit the cross bar and in.
"Our game changed in overtime for whatever reason," said Jackson.
"We started playing high risk and it cost us in the end. We were trying to force things. Too many guys were trying to go one-on-the-show, turning pucks over. We gave up 12 shots in the first three periods and 16 in overtime. That's all a result of turning pucks over and taking penalties."
As disappointing as the loss was, it also signals the end of the careers of 11 seniors who won 92 games over four seasons, won a CCHA title, advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times and played in one Frozen Four.
"I'm disappointed for the seniors more than anything. I feel bad for them," said Jackson. They are great kids and I know more than anything they wanted to bring a championship here. I can't speak enough about all of them. They had great careers and are a great group of kids."
** The overtime loss to St. Cloud State ended Notre Dame's streak of overtime wins in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish won in overtime against Alabama Huntsville in 2007, versus Michigan in 2008 and Merrimack in 2011 before losing to the Huskies on Saturday night.
** The Irish are now 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament in games played at the Xcel Energy Center with both losses being 4-3 defeats.
** With his assist in the first period, T.J. Tynan closed his career tied for 12th in points with Kirt Bjork '83 with 54 goals and 107 assists for 161 points. He finished in a tie for ninth in assists with Dave Poulin '82 with 107 and he finished tied for first in games played with Kevin Deeth '10 and Stephen Johns as they all played 164 in their careers.