Kalamazoo, Mich. - For the second time in two nights, Notre Dame senior goaltender Steven Summerhays made 22 saves as the Irish blanked Western Michigan, this time by a 3-0 score, in front of a sellout crowd of 4,114 at Lawson Arena on Saturday night.
The back-to-back shutouts in the season-opening weekend mark the first time in the 46-year history of the program that the Irish have started the season with two consecutive whitewashings.
Thomas DiPauli, Sam Herr and Kevin Lind provided all the offense Summerhays would need with the goaltender from Anchorage, Alaska actually assisting on Lind's empty-net goal in the final minute of the game.
On the night, Notre Dame out shot Western by a 41-22 margin. The Broncos' Frank Slubowski had 38 saves as he kept his team in the game, especially in the second period when the Irish outshot Western by a 20-1 margin.
The win improves Notre Dame to 2-0-0 on the season while the Broncos start the new year with a 0-2-0 record.
"All in all, I was very pleased with our game this weekend," said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"But, each night these were 1-0 games going into the third period, so we can't be overly excited about our offense right now. We have to work on our power play. Western is a very good team and they are young on the back end, but they are going to get better. They have a great goaltender and some character guys up front. I expect we'll see a different team by the end of November in our tournament."
Summerhays credited his defense for their play on the weekend.
"Everyone was blocking shots this weekend. Guys were coming back and taking away their chances," said Summerhays.
"This is a great confidence booster for both me and the team."
After a scoreless first period, the Irish took over in the second period, out shooting Western Michigan by a 20-1 margin, but could score just once to take a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.
DiPauli staked the Irish to the early lead when he scored his first of the season at the 4:08 mark. The goal was set up by some great forechecking by DiPauli and his linemates Vince Hinostroza and Peter Schneider who kept the Broncos bottled up in their own zone.
Schneider forced a turnover deep in the left corner with the puck moving back to Taker along the boards. The senior defenseman found DiPauli cutting through the slot and put the puck on the sophomore's stick. He whipped a quick shot on the Western Michigan goal, beating Slubowski high to his glove side for the 1-0 lead.
"I was great that Tommy (DiPauli) got rewarded tonight. He played well on the weekend," said Jackson.
"Those guys (DiPauli, Hinostroza and Schneider) buzz out there. All three can skate and they have some skill to make plays. They are dynamic, they are energizer bunnies out there."
The score stayed 1-0 until the 57-second mark of the third period when Notre Dame finally capitalized on the power play, as the Irish were 1-for-9 in the game.
Herr got credit for the goal as he deflected a Shayne Taker shot from the left point, getting his stick on the puck near the bottom of the left circle to redirect it over Slubowski and under the cross bar for his first of the season.
For Taker, the assist was his fourth of the weekend and the result of working on getting more of his shots through to the net.
"The points are nice, but these were two huge wins for us this weekend," said Taker.
"You don't come into Kalamazoo often and shut them out. If I see the lane I take it. That's one of my goals this year. Carrying it over the blue line is one thing, but doing something with it is another. Tynes (T.J. Tynan) made a great play there. He gave me a lane and opened up the shot for me."
From there, Summerhays protected the lead as the Broncos pulled the goaltender with over three minutes to go to get back in the game and chipped in with a little offense as time ran down.
The Broncos were putting pressure on in the final minute when Summerhays stopped a shot in close. The rebound popped in front to Lind who turned and fired it 180 feet down the ice and into the open net for at 19:14 to make it 3-0. The goal was Lind's first of the season.
"Everyone was celebrating and I was just telling Kevin, `make sure I get the assist.'" said Summerhays.
"That was probably the easiest one that I have ever gotten."
Things don't get easier for Summerhays and the Irish. They return home for a weekend series against Michigan Tech on Friday and Sunday, Oct. 18 and 20. Friday's game has a 7:35 p.m. start and Sunday is a 2:05 p.m. game. The break in the series is due to the Notre Dame - USC football game on Saturday, Oct. 19.
** IRISH NOTES **
- The back-to-back shutouts for Summerhays mark the second time in his career that he has had two in a row. The first time occurred February 25, 2012 against Michigan State (2-0) and then a week later on March 2 with a 2-0 win over Ohio State. He now has nine career shutouts and is third on Notre Dame's all-time list in that category.
- Notre Dame has won just 12 times at Lawson Arena in the series history. Tonight's game was the second shutout for the Irish. On Jan. 20, 2007, David Brown `07 made 25 saves in a 3-0 win over the Broncos.