March 6, 2014
Notre Dame, Ind. –
College hockey’s second season begins this weekend for the Notre Dame hockey team as the Irish begin postseason play with the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs.
Notre Dame plays host to Boston University in a single-game series at 7:05 p.m. on Sat., March 8. Tickets remain for the game and are available at the Murnane Family Ticket Office, at UND.com/tickets or by calling 574-631-7356.
The Irish closed out the Hockey East regular season last Saturday with a big win over No. 1-ranked Boston College, a 2-1 overtime win at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The win ran Notre Dame’s current win streak to four games and the Irish are unbeaten in their last six (5-0-1). They finished the regular season with a 20-12-2 overall record and a 9-9-2 mark, good for 20 points and a share of seventh place with Vermont.
The Catamounts won the tiebreaker with more league wins (10-9) to put Notre Dame in eighth place. The first round of the Hockey East playoffs has Vermont (7) hosting Massachusetts (10) on Friday night while Maine (6) will host Merrimack (11) at the same time the Irish and Terriers will meet. The winners move on to the Hockey East quarterfinals March 14-16 at the higher-seeded sites.
Boston College finished first, followed by UMass-Lowell and Providence while New Hampshire will play host to Northeastern in the best-of-three round. The four winners advance to the Hockey East Championship at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., on March 21-22.
Irish head coach Jeff Jackson knows that his team will be in for a tough game against the Terriers on Saturday night having just played them two weeks ago.
“We saw that Boston University is a very good transition team. They come out of their zone real well,” says Jackson.
“In the Friday night game, we had some problems taking away their speed. BU gave us as many problems as anyone in the second half of the season forcing us into turning over pucks. We know that they play a short bench, probably because they are in a rebuilding mode. They play mostly three lines and a couple of their defensemen played close to 30 minutes each. It was hard for me to juggle our lines because we like to play all four. I think that takes away from one of our team’s strengths and that is playing four lines.”
Jackson also knows the challenges that a one-game playoff series can mean. A hot goaltender or a fluky bounce could send a team home early.
“A lot of coaches were upset when they announced that the first round was going to be a single-game series,” explains Jackson.
“Three teams – Maine, Vermont and Notre Dame – are on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament. If we get beat in a single game, our chances will be diminished dramatically. The single-game playoff could eliminate one, two or three Hockey East teams from the NCAA Tournament. That’s the danger of a single elimination. BU played us tough here. Both games were dogfights right to the end. Plus, they got some confidence last week, playing and beating a good Northeastern team twice.”
“We put ourselves in this position giving away some points early in the season. It’s a weird situation for me. We probably have a better chance of getting to the NCAA Tournament than we do of getting to Boston (Hockey East championship).”
IRISH VERSUS TERRIERS
Notre Dame and Boston University have met eight times in the all-time series with the Irish holding a 4-3-1 edge. At Notre Dame, the teams have met three times with the Irish winning all three contests. The two teams met on Feb. 21-22 at the Compton Family Ice Arena with the Irish taking a pair of 2-0 shutouts. At BU, Notre Dame is 1-1-0 while the Terriers are 2-0-1 against the Irish at neutral sites. The first meeting between the two schools came on Dec. 30, 1970 in the Boston Arena Christmas Tournament with BU taking a 7-3 decision. Notre Dame and Boston University have never met in the postseason.
IRISH POST SEASON MARKS
Prior to joining Hockey East, Notre Dame was a member of the CCHA (22 seasons) where the Irish played in 66 playoff games with a record of 31-35 in those games (19-8 at home, 5-18 on the road and 7-9 at Joe Louis Arena). Under Coach Jeff Jackson, the Irish were 18-12 in the CCHA postseason, winning the championship in 2007, 2009 and 2013. Notre Dame spent 10 years in the WCHA (1971-81) and was 5-13-3 in the post season in an era of total-goal series. That gives the Irish a 36-68-3 all-time record in CCHA or WCHA conference playoff action at the Division I level.
BEATING THE BEST
Notre Dame’s 2-1 overtime win against top-ranked Boston College on March 1 marked the 14th time in the 46-year history of the program that the Irish knocked off the top ranked team in the country. On five different occasions, Notre Dame has knocked the Eagles out of the top spot. The game against Boston College was the third time this season that the Irish faced a No. 1 team.
On Nov. 8-9, they played host to then No. 1-ranked Minnesota in a pair of games at the Compton Family Ice Arena, winning 4-1 in the series opener before losing 5-4 in the second game. The Irish are the only team in the nation this season to win games against two different No. 1 teams with the wins over the Eagles and the Gophers. Only Wisconsin has two wins against No. 1 but both of those were against Minnesota. Prior to the November win against Minnesota, the last time Notre Dame beat a No. 1 was Oct. 23, 2010, a 2-1 win over Boston College.
The 2-1 win on Senior Night at Conte Forum ranks as one of Notre Dame’s top performances this season.
“I thought we played a good game out there. They (BC) were scary at times, but I though we played a good 60-minute hockey game,” says Jackson.
“To limit a team like that, a team of that caliber to 20 shots and one goal is hard to do. That’s a very good offensive hockey team, maybe the best offensive team in the country. We did a good job with the puck and didn’t turn it over in key areas of the ice. That nullifies some of their transition game. Plus, we only took two penalties. That’s the other part, discipline with the puck and discipline without it.
The hero for the Irish was freshman center Vince Hinostroza who really made the hockey statement, “there is no bad shot in overtime,” come to life.
The 5-9 center carried the puck from the goal line along the right boards to the top of the right circle before cutting to the middle. With Mario Lucia and Mike Voran driving to the net, he flipped the puck towards the net and the rest is history.
“I was just protecting the puck along the boards and I cut to the middle,” explains Hinostroza.
“I saw traffic in front of the middle so I just threw it at the net. It was fortunate enough to hit something and it went in. That was a great experience to celebrate with the guys on the ice after the goal, a great way to end the season.”
Hinostroza’s shot deflected off Boston College forward Patrick Brown and went high in the air over the left shoulder of goaltender Thatcher Demko, landed in the blue paint and bounced into the net to give the Irish the hard-fought, road victory.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Hinostroza was selected as the Hockey East/Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week for the week ending March 3. Hinostroza scored the game-winning goal at 1:56 of overtime to defeat No. 1 Boston College, 2-1, in overtime on March 1. The win ended BC’s 19-game unbeaten streak (17-0-2). The last time the Eagles lost was on November 29. This is the fourth time this season that Hinostroza has been named rookie of the week. He is tied for second in scoring for the Irish with seven goals and 21 assists for 28 points in 28 games. He ranks third in the conference in scoring among rookie forwards.
Summerhays, who was the Hockey East defensive player of the week twice in February, was honored by the conference with the Stop It Goaltender of the Month award for the month of February. The senior puckstopper was 4-2-1 in the month with a 1.42 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage to go with three shutouts. After dropping the first two games of the month, Summerhays was 4-0-1 over the final five games, giving up just four goals for a 0.79 goals-against mark and a .973 save percentage with three shutouts.
The honors didn’t end there for Summerhays as he also was named as one of 18 candidates for the first Mike Richter Award that will go to the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA Hockey. The award will be presented at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia, Pa. The criteria for the Mike Richter Award includes: outstanding skill on the ice; being in good academic standing at an NCAA college or university; consideration given for academic achievement and sportsmanship; candidates must comply with all NCAA rules; be full-time students and compete in 50% or more of their team’s games and should be active in the community. Candidates for the award were determined by nominations from the 59 Division I NCAA men’s hockey head coaches. A committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media will select the finalists and award winner. Going into the Hockey East playoffs, Summerhays is 18-11-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. He leads the nation with seven shutouts.
ALL GOOD THINGS MUST END
Steven Summerhays saw his school record shutout streak come to an end in the 2-1 overtime win at Boston College on March 1. Summerhays gave up a third-period goal to Johnny Gaudreau at 1:31, giving him a streak of 231:50 without giving up a goal. That breaks the record of the previous streak – 193:27 – set by David Brown `07 between Oct. 17-Nov. 8, 2003. That streak included three consecutive shutouts for Brown. Prior to Gaudreau’s goal, the last goal given up by Summerhays came at 13:49 of the third period on Feb. 14 in a 2-2 overtime tie against Providence College. He followed that with a 3-0 shutout of the Friars on Feb. 15, a 2-0 shutout of Boston University on Feb. 21 and then shared a 2-0 shutout with Joe Rogers against BU on Feb. 22. Gaudreau’s goal came 41:31 into the game on March 1. Summerhays now has a new streak of 20:25 entering this week’s game against Boston University.
One of the reasons for Notre Dame’s current four-game winning streak and six-game unbeaten run (5-0-1) since Feb. 8 has been the strong, consistent play of Summerhays in the Irish goal. Jackson is quick to point out that this isn’t something new for the Alaska native.
“We’ve seen him play this way before. It’s just a matter of him sustaining it,” says Jackson.
“Consistency is the key for him. Last year, he did the same thing. In February, he came on and started playing well all the way to Joe Louis Arena. I just hope he can sustaining it longer this year. That means we will win games. I think as a team we are playing a more complete game and with (Steven) Summerhays playing well, when we do make mistakes, which will happen, he is there.”
On Tuesday afternoon, senior captain Jeff Costello took his car into the garage to be serviced. While he was there, his phone as he says, “started blowing up.”
Was he late for a class? Did he forget something when he left home? Those are the questions most college kids would think when about when that happens. For Costello it was a little different. A day before the National Hockey League’s trading deadline, he had been traded.
Selected by the Ottawa Senators in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Costello’s rights were traded to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Patrick Mullen, a 2009 University of Denver graduate, currently playing in Utica with the Canucks top farm team.
“It was exciting; I wasn’t expecting it,” says Costello.
“I first heard from Ottawa’s player development guy. They drafted me four years ago, so I know him well. He gave me a call and explained the situation. Then I got calls from Vancouver to introduce themselves, and they told me that they would be in contact with me. I was excited because it was nice to be wanted by someone. It looks like it may be better suited for my career personally.”
“I always knew that I was going to play four years of college, so its funny that this would happen right near the end of my time here. I just want to play and I look forward to the opportunity.”
Costello is not the first Irish player to see his rights traded while he was still in college. On February 26, 2008, defenseman Teddy Ruth `10, who had been drafted by the Washington Capitals saw his rights traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for future Hall of Famer Sergei Federov.
GETTING BIGGER EVERY DAY
Freshman center Vince Hinostroza has finished his first full season in Hockey East and has proven to be an impact player for the Irish in his rookie season.
The 5-9, 175-pound center is tied for second on the team in scoring with seven goals and 21 assists for 28 points in 28 games this season. He trails just senior center T.J. Tynan and is tied with linemate Mario Lucia for second. His 28 points are third in Hockey East among rookie players and his 1.00 point-per-game average also ranks third. Nationally, his 28 points tie him for ninth overall among rookies and his 1.00 point-per-game ties him for fourth.
So, Coach Jackson, what do you think of the play of your freshman, playmaking center.
“In my opinion, Vinny has had a great first year,” says Jackson.
“He’s one of the top freshmen scorers in the country and he’s one of our top two or three scorers. He’s still learning to play the game better without the puck. He has good instincts and he understands the game. His physical development will be important but the biggest thing will be his on-ice awareness defensively and offensively without the puck.”
“The physical maturity is a huge component of being able to come in and play at the college level. You are playing against guys like Stephen Johns who is 6-3, 230 pounds. That’s a little different than what you face in junior hockey.”
Hinostroza echoes his coach’s statement about the physical maturity needed to play at this level.
“The biggest adjustment that I have had to make is not playing in every situation and the strength of the game,” says the Bartlett, Ill. native.
“I’m a smaller guy and I am playing against some 24-year old guys on some teams. Juniors is playing against kids and college is playing against men. (Irish strength coach) Tony Rolinski has really helped me in the weight room. I have gained weight and strength and put on a lot of protective muscle in my shoulders and joints.”
The speedy center iceman also is pleased with the way his first collegiate season has gone.
“This season has been pretty good. Coming in, I didn’t know how much I was going to get to play or if I was going to be able to make an impact,” says Hinostroza.
“Tony Rolinski really helped me get stronger in the summer. I think I have made an impact, but we still have a lot to do as a team.”