Head coach Jeff Jackson and his Irish hockey team are set to open the 2011-12 season versus Minnesota-Duluth.

Irish Blanked By Western Michigan In Regular-Season Finale, 2-0

Feb. 27, 2011

Final Stats | Photo Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

Notre Dame, Ind. – Western Michigan senior goaltender Jerry Kuhn stopped all 35 shots he faced and the Broncos scored twice in the first period and held on for a 2-0 win over Notre Dame in front of a sold-out Joyce Center on Saturday night.

Ian Slater and Trevor Elias had first-period goals for Western Michigan while the Irish were shutout for the first time this season and the first time in just over a year (Feb. 25, 2010) although the Irish did have two goals waved off and T.J. Tynan was stopped on a penalty shot with 29 seconds left in the game.

The loss, coupled with Michigan’s 5-0 win at Northern Michigan, drops the Irish into second place in the final regular season standings. Notre Dame finishes the regular season with a 21-10-5 overall record and an 18-7-3-2 mark in the CCHA, good for 59 points. The Wolverine victory moves them into the top spot with 61 points for the year. The loss also snapped Notre Dame’s five-game winning streak and eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2) that started on Jan. 22.

The win was big for Western Michigan as it moved the Broncos back into fourth place in the CCHA with a 10-9-9-5 record, just one point ahead of Ferris State. Overall, Western Michigan finished the regular campaign with a 16-10-10 record. Both the Broncos and the Bulldogs will get first round byes in the opening round of the CCHA playoffs but in the second round, the fourth-place team will host the fifth, meaning Ferris State will be at Western Michigan, the weekend of March 11-13.

The Irish also will have a first-round bye and will host a second round series against an opponent to be determined next weekend.

“I though Western played incredibly well tonight,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.

“That’s the team that I saw playing on videotape. They played like they wanted fourth place more than we wanted first place in the first period. That’s what it looked like early in the game. A lot of the credit goes to them and how they played tonight.”

The Broncos out shot the Irish 15-6 in the opening period with both their goals the result of hard work and effort.

Ian Slater gave Western Michigan the only goal they would need when he scored on a wrap-around at 9:51 for his eighth goal of the season.

With the puck behind the Irish net, three Bronco forwards battled for possession of the puck with a pair of Notre Dame defenders. Slater came away with the puck behind Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays and moved from the left side to the right post and was able to tuck the puck between the freshman goaltenders pad and the post for a 1-0 lead. Ryan Watson and Mike Leone picked up assists on the play.

Western would make it 2-0 at 11:20 off a face-off play in their own zone. Center Max Campbell pulled a face off behind him to the left of Kuhn. He moved back towards the goal line and picked up the puck, firing a pass up the middle of the ice to Elias who got a step on the Irish defense and raced in to beat Summerhays on a breakaway for his third goal of the season.

At 13:46 of the opening period, Irish forward Billy Maday was called for a hitting from behind penalty and got a five-minute major and a game misconduct. The Irish would kill off the penalty and two others for the Broncos in the first period and trailed, 2-0, after the first 20 minutes.

Notre Dame came out in the second period behind a new goaltender as sophomore Mike Johnson took over between the pipes as Jackson tried to get his team into the game. Summerhays stopped 13-of-15 shots in the opening period.

“Steven deserved the chance to start with the way he’s played the last couple of weeks,” said Jackson.

“He played well, he held us in there. He made some great saves early on. The score could have been 4-0. Coaches sometimes make goalie changes to change the focus of their team. It’s as simple as that. It (replacing Summerhays) had nothing to do with his performance.”

From there it was up to Kuhn to hold the Irish off as they peppered him with 29 shots over the final two periods.

“Western really played well tonight and their goaltender was a difference maker,” said Jackson.

Notre Dame appeared to score midway through the second but after the officials reviewed the play, the goal was waved off as they ruled it was batted in with a high stick.

Defenseman Stephen Johns fired a shot at the net that Kuhn stopped. David Gerths flipped the rebound back on the net and it hit a player in front, popping in the air. Anders Lee tried to bat it out of the air and it appeared to go off a Bronco player and end up in the net. The officials did not see it that way and waved it off.

The game came down to the final two minutes when Western’s Derek Roehl was called for interference with 1:46 left in the game. Notre Dame removed Johnson from the goal in favor of a sixth attacker. The extra pressure appeared to pay off when it appeared that the Irish scored with 29 seconds left, but that goal also was waved off as defenseman Luke Witkowski knocked the goal off its moorings prior to the puck going in.

T.J. Tynan was awarded a penalty shot and Kuhn came up with a big glove save to seal the victory. On the night, the Irish finished 0-for-6 on the power play while the Broncos were 0-for-4.

Notre Dame out shot Western Michigan, 35- 29, on the night with Johnson making 14 saves in 38:10 of action.

The Irish will look to rebound and get ready for the second round of the playoffs, the weekend of March 11-13 at the Joyce Center.

“We have some time to shake off this loss,” said Jackson.

“You know, maybe its a good thing. Hopefully we respond positively. We’ve played some great hockey since our last loss (at Ohio State, Jan. 21). Maybe tonight wasn’t our best example of how we are playing, but I think we go into the playoffs, playing at a very high level.”

GAME SUMMARY                                     1     2     3   -   Frv/#17 Western Michigan (16-10-10/10-9-9-5)      2     0     0   -   2#8/#8 Notre Dame (21-10-5/18-7-3-2)              0     0     0   -   0


First Period: WMU: Ian Slater 8 (Ryan Watson, Mike Leone), 9:51; WMU: Trevor Elias 3 (Max Campbell), 11:20.

Penalties: WMU: 1 for 2 minutes; ND: 4 for 19 minutes.

Second Period: No Scoring.

Penalties: WMU: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.

Third Period: No Scoring.

Penalties: WMU: 4 for 8 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.

Shots On Goal:Western Michigan        15 -  9 -  5 - 29Notre Dame               6 - 13 - 16 - 35
Goaltender Saves:WMU: Jerry Kuhn (59:39) 6 - 13 - 16 - 35ND: Steven Summerhays (20:00) 13 - x - x - 13 Mike Johnson (38:10) x - 9 - 5 - 14
Power Plays:WMU: 0 for 4ND: 0 for 6
Attendance: 2,957 (sellout)