Duluth, Minn. - Notre Dame freshman goaltender Chad Katunar will remember his first trip to Duluth, Minn., for a long time. On Friday night, he experienced his first collegiate game coming on to replace starter Steven Summerhays during a five-on-three power play and held on for the win.
Saturday night may not be as memorable for the 6-5, 232-pound puckstopper. He got his first collegiate start against the Bulldogs and he and his teammates ran into a buzzsaw as Minnesota Duluth poured 14 shots on the rookie netminder, scoring three times on the way to a 4-1 win over the Irish in front of 6,257 at AMSOIL Arena.
Joe Basaraba, Caleb Hebert, Dominic Toninato scored in a 3:25 span of the opening period and Kyle Osterberg closed out the scoring while Austin Wuthrich had the lone Notre Dame goal, scoring on a power play in the third period.
The Bulldogs would out shoot the Irish, 30 -20, on the night, including 14-3 in that first period.
The loss drops the second-ranked Irish to 5-1-0 on the season. Minnesota Duluth improves to 3-2-1 on the year.
"Until tonight, we got off to good starts in games and tonight we didn't and that was the difference in the game," said head coach Jeff Jackson.
"First periods we've usually been good, but give credit to Duluth, they played well tonight."
Katunar would be the first to agree with his coach as he experienced the barrage of shots the Bulldogs threw at him on the way to a 3-0 lead after one period.
Basaraba started the scoring at 14:24 when he lifted a backhander from the slot past a screened Katunar to make it 1-0. Tony Cameranesi set up the play as he forced a turnover along the right wing boards. The goal marked the first time all season that Notre Dame trailed in a game. ATI Physical Therapy
The celebrating for Basaraba's goal wasn't over when the Bulldogs scored just nine seconds later at 14:33.
Off a rush into the Irish zone, Osterberg fired a shot from the left wing that Katunar stopped. The rebound bounced around in front where Hebert, who was crashing the crease, had the puck go off his leg and into the goal to make it 2-0. The officials immediately went to review the goal and after seeing the replay awarded the goal to Minnesota Duluth.
The Bulldogs added one more to make it 3-0 at 17:49 when Tonitato scored his first of the year, jamming a rebound through Katunar's pads off a scramble in front of the net.
Jackson tried to shake things up to start the second period by replacing the freshman with senior Steven Summerhays to start the second period as a way of trying to get his team back in the game.
"I don't think we were very good in that first period," said Jackson.
"He didn't have much chance on a couple of those goals. It was unfortunate that he had to be in there when we were a little big sluggish, especially on the back end with some bad mistakes defensively. I hate to throw a kid into that environment if we aren't sharp. I made the change because when you are down 3-0 you have to do something to get their interest. It didn't work but we tried."
The Irish offense did come to life in the second and put pressure on Minnesota Duluth goaltender Aaron Crandall as they outshot the Bulldogs, 13-7, but Crandall held Notre Dame off the scoreboard through the first 40 minutes.
UMD got one more in the middle stanza to make it 4-0 at the 10:35 mark as Osterberg combined with Hebert on a 2-on-1, beating Summerhays with a shot from near the left circle to his stick side and off the left post for the four goal lead.
From there, the Bulldogs looked to get their goaltender a shutout but the Irish weren't going to let that happen as they have not been shutout since Feb. 17, 2012 at Miami (3-0), a span of 55 games.
Wuthrich ended the hopes for a whitewashing at 13:22 of the third when he scored on the power play, ripping a shot from the slot that beat Crandall to his stick side. T.J. Tynan, who had three assists on the weekend, and Vince Hinostroza set up the goal, Wuthrich's second of the season to make it 4-1.
Crandall finished the night with 19 saves while Katunar had 11 in his 20 minutes and Summerhays had 15 in his 40 minutes of action. Notre Dame was 1-for-7 on the power play while UMD was 0-6.
While the Irish would have liked to rack up their third straight sweep, they had to settle for the road split.
"I knew this would be a tough series and I am sure they felt the same way," said Jackson.
"Last night was tough and tonight was as well. They (Minnesota Duluth) are a good team, a good skating team. They have nice balance up front and on the back end. It was a good challenging weekend for us and that's what we expected."
Next up for Notre Dame as the Irish continue their four-game road trip is a visit to Burlington, Vt., where they will officially open the Hockey East schedule. Notre Dame faces the University of Vermont in a 7:00 p.m. game on Fri., Nov. 1 and then a 4:30 p.m. contest on Sat., Nov. 2 with both games at UVM's Gutterson Field House.
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