Senior goaltender Steven Summerhays had a season-high 36 saves, including 17 in the first period to lead Notre Dame to a 5-3 Hockey East win over Massachusetts Friday night in front of 4,830 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Sophomore left wing Mario Lucia scored twice and added an assist while Sam Herr, Andy Ryan and Jeff Costello (penalty shot) did the scoring for the Irish. Massachusetts got single goals from Steven Iacobellis, Branden Gracel and Brandon Wahlin on the night.
The win for Summerhays snapped a personal three-game losing streak that dated back to Nov. 22 at UMass-Lowell. Notre Dame three power-play goals in the game, the most for the Irish since Oct. 20 when they had four in a 7-3 win over Michigan Tech.
The victory improved Notre Dame to 10-6-1 overall and evened the Irish record in Hockey East at 3-3-1, good for seven points. The Minutemen fall to 3-11-2 on the year and 1-7-2 in league play. They are in the midst of an eight-game winless streak (0-7-1) since Nov. 2.
It was a big night for Notre Dame and coach Jeff Jackson, as the Irish welcomed three players back to the lineup from the injured list in forwards Vince Hinostroza, Mike Voran and Thomas DiPauli.
"UMass puts a lot of pressure on you. They are very aggressive on their forecheck," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson following the game.
"We turned too many pucks over especially early in the game. I keep mentioning that you can watch tape but you really don't know a team until you play them. They played a real aggressive forecheck and they were aggressive in the neutral zone which led to turnovers and then shots and chances against."
Notre Dame got on the scoreboard first at 3:47 as defenseman Marc Hetnik pulled down Costello on a breakaway attempt that was set up by a great cross rink pass from Bryan Rust. The official awarded Costello a penalty shot.
The senior center carried the puck in on UMass goaltender Steve Mastalerz, gave a slight deke to the right and then drilled a quick wrist shot over Mastalerz' blocker for his fifth goal of the season and a 1-0 Notre Dame lead.
The penalty shot was the first one for the Irish since March 16, 2013 when Bryan Rust scored in a CCHA playoff game versus Bowling Green, a game Notre Dame won by a 4-3 margin.
A turnover by the Minutemen turned into Notre Dame's second goal of the night at 7:32 of the first. Center T.J. Tynan grabbed the loose puck in the right corner and caught Herr coming down the slot. The sophomore left wing drilled a shot past Mastalerz for his seventh of the year to make it 2-0.
Penalties cost the Irish the two-goal lead, as Massachusetts would score on a five-on-three power play at 9:05 of the first period. With David Gerths and Peter Schneider in the penalty box. Iacobellis redirected a great feed from defenseman Joel Hanley on the left side of the crease past Steven Summerhays to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
The goal was the only Minuteman shot to elude Summerhays in the first period as he turned aside the other 17 that he would face.
"Teams are just trying to get shots to the net against us," said Summerhays.
"They are looking for sticks, going for deflections, pucks going off guys skates. That's where most of the goals in recent games have come from and I am sure they are watching tape and seeing how teams are scoring against us."
"Steven (Summerhays) played really well tonight," said Jackson.
"It was a tough game for him with a lot of traffic. He faced a lot of shots and did a good job."
Notre Dame would get its first power-play goal of the night at 13:34 of the second when Ryan scored on a one-timer from the left circle for his second of the year and second in his last three games.
With the puck in the right corner, the three Notre Dame players came up with the puck as Lucia moved it back to defenseman Robbie Russo on the right point. With the UMass penalty killers tied up along the boards, Russo moved the puck across the slot to Ryan who was all alone. The sophomore defender beat Mastalerz with a quick shot past his glove hand and inside the right post to make it 3-1.
Massachusetts got what looked like a big momentum goal at 19:55 of the second when the Minutemen scored on the power play to make it 3-2.
Right wing Conor Sheary found Gracel all alone in the high slot and the senior center hammered a shot past Summerhays for his sixth of the season to cut the lead to 3-2. The second power-play goal came on UMass' seventh chance in the game.
Lucia would score the final two goals for the Irish with both coming on the power play in the third period. His first came at 6:14 when he tucked the rebound of a Herr deflection past Mastalerz for his seventh of the season.
Defenseman Stephen Johns flipped a shot on goal that Herr redirected off Mastalerz. The rebound went up in the air and came down in the crease near the goal line and Lucia finished off the play for a 4-2 Irish lead.
The sophomore left wing closed out the Irish scoring at 16:54 when he scored his eighth of the year, one-timing a centering pass from Hinostroza near the right post past Mastalerz for a 5-2 Notre Dame lead.
"I felt good out there tonight and having Vinny (Hinostroza) back was big. He's a great player, a great playmaker. We see each other and mesh together well. I had a lot of chances tonight and it was good to see a couple of them go in."
The Minutemen weren't done though and added a goal by Wahlin, the first of his collegiate career at 18:40 for the 5-3 final score.
The Irish were out shot in the game by a 39-32 margin with Summerhays making 36 saves. Mastalerz had 27 on the night. Massachusetts was 2-for-8 on the power play while Notre Dame was 3-for-6.
Game two of the series is set for 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The Notre Dame hockey team will hold its annual Teddy Bear Toss during the first intermission with all the bears collected being donated to the St. Joseph Regional Medical System who will then distribute them to needy kids in the Michiana area.
** IRISH NOTES**
** The Notre Dame-Massachusetts game was just the sixth meeting between the two schools. The series is now even at 3-3-0. The game was the first meeting between the two schools since Dec. 28, 2007 when they participated in the Lightning College Hockey Classic in Tampa, Fla. Massachusetts won that game, 4-3.
** Mario Lucia's two-goal game was the third of his career and the second this season. He scored twice on Nov. 9, in a 5-4 loss at home to Minnesota. He also had three points in that game.
** The win improved the Irish to 7-2-1 at home this season and 14-2-1 in their last 17 games at the Compton Family ice Arena since Jan. 26, 2013.