Jan. 9, 2015
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A pair of third period goals broke a 2-2 deadlock and lifted the Western Michigan hockey team (8-9-2) to a 4-2 win over Notre Dame (9-10-2) on Friday night, Jan. 9, at the Broncos’ Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“It’s frustrating because if we played all 60 minutes like we did the second period, we probably would have won the game tonight,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “For some reason, again, we’re missing the consistency to be able to do that for the whole game.”
The Broncos opened the scoring 8:33 into the game with a tremendous play. Isolating an Irish defenseman into a mini two-on-one break, Nolan LaPorte fed a saucer pass over the defender to Colton Hargrove in the slot. Hargrove stretched just enough to get his stick on it, chip it over Notre Dame netminder Cal Petersen and into the net just under the cross bar. Defenseman Neal Goff also picked up an assist on the goal.
Just 17.0 seconds before the first intermission, the Irish knotted the score at 1-1. Vince Hinostroza came through center ice with a full head of steam but was forced to curl around a defenseman at the face off dot. Hinostroza pulled a spin-o-rama move though and saw a similarly-streaking Mario Lucia who converted Hinostroza’s feed to the slot into his lead-leading 12th goal of the season.
“That was a big momentum swing,” Jackson said of Lucia’s strike. “It gave us life going into the second.”
Notre Dame rode that momentum into the second period, scoring just 1:27 into the frame when Jordan Gross threw a seemingly-harmless puck on net from the top of the faceoff circle to Bronco goaltender Lukas Hafner’s left. The puck found its way through a screen past Hafner, extending Gross’ point-scoring streak to five games. Western Michigan tied the game back up at 2-2 moments into a four-on-four situation at 16:19 of the second period. The Broncos’ Will Kessel won a faceoff back to Matt Stewart who threw a 40-fott wrister into and through a screen, past Petersen for the equalizer.
Western Michigan retook the lead, 3-2, with 15:54 left in regulation when Justin Kovacs broke down the left wing, dangled around an Irish blueliner, and beat Petersen to the short side. Taylor Fleming and Josh Pitt picked up the assists on Kovacs’ second tally of the season. The Broncos doubled that lead with 11:49 left in regulation. Willem Nong-Lambert collected a loose puck in the Notre Dame defensive zone and beat Petersen for an unassisted tally.
The Irish had two third period power plays and nine third period shots, their most of any period tonight, but none could find the back of the Bronco net as Western Michigan claimed a 4-2 victory. Hafner made 18 saves to claim the win in Western Michigan’s net while Petersen stopped 22 shots for the Irish. Western Michigan outshot Notre Dame, 26-20, on the night. Neither team converted on a power play, the Broncos missing on three attempts while the Irish did not score on either of their two tries.
The Irish will wrap up their 2014-15 non-conference schedule tomorrow night when they play host to Western Michigan at 6:05 p.m. at the Compton Family Ice Arena. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the game nationally.
“We have to take care of business at home,” Jackson added. “We have to do that for the rest of the season. We have to play a better game. We have to use our speed more effectively – like we did in the second period – and we need to do it for 60 minutes.”