Dec. 7, 2014
Amherst, Massachusetts – Senior defenseman Robbie Russo scored twice and Austin Wuthrich and Mario Lucia each scored once while freshman goaltender Cal Petersen stopped all 14 shots he faced as the University of Notre Dame blanked the University of Massachusetts 4-0 Saturday night at the Mullins Center.
Sophomore forward Vince Hinostroza picked up three assists in the game while Wuthrich and Lucia also had assists for two-point nights. For Petersen, the shutout was the second of his young career.
The win, coupled with Friday night’s 7-5 victory, gives the Irish their first Hockey East road sweep since joining the conference at the start of the 2013-14 season.
With the victory, Notre Dame finishes the first half of the season on a two-game winning streak and gives the Irish an 8-8-2 overall record to go with a 4-2-2 record in Hockey East. Massachusetts falls to 4-11-0 on the year and 1-9-0 in conference play.
“It’s about puck possession. That’s the best defense,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
“That’s where we did ourselves a lot of favors tonight. They are a good transition team and if you possess the puck you take that away. I thought our puck possession was why were better defensively.”
The Irish controlled play for large portions of the game as they out shot the Minutemen by a 33-14 margin Steve Mastalerz finished with 29 saves. The 14 shots by the Minutemen were the fewest that an opponent has had against Notre Dame this season.
The Irish had the edge in play in the opening period, as they fired eight shots on goal while the Minutemen were held to one shot, the fewest that Notre Dame has given up in a period this season. The score was tied at zero through 20 minutes with the Irish having the best chance at 13:55 when Wuthrich broke in alone on goaltender Mastalerz and rifled a shot off the cross bar.
Just like on Friday when the Irish scored in bunches in the third period, Saturday’s second period was a carbon copy as they scored three times in 6:19 span to take over the game on the scoreboard.
Russo got the scoring started just 2:08 into the second when he one-timed a Sam Herr pass from a bad angle below the left wing circle, beating Mastalerz between the left post and his pads. The goal was Russo’s sixth of the season.
The lead would go to 2-0 at 7:54 when Wuthrich and Vince Hinostroza combined on a two-on-one that was set up by a great pass through the neutral zone by freshman defenseman Tony Bretzman. Hinostroza drove down the slot and got off a shot that Mastalerz stopped. The rebound popped into the air and Wuthrich took a baseball bat swing to put it past the UMass goaltender. The goal was Wutrich’s fifth of the season and second of the weekend.
It took just 34 seconds to make it 3-0 as Lucia scored his 11th of the season off a nice set up from Wuthrich who found Notre Dame’s leading goal scorer parked on the right post. Lucia redirected his pass inside the post before Mastalerz could slide over to stop it. Lucia also recorded one goal in each game of the series.
“We’ve been working on various aspects of our game – coming out of our zone or through the neutral zone and then the cycle in the offensive zone. We keep working on those things and we see bits and pieces of it but this weekend we were much more consistent possessing the puck which is a positive thing for us going into the second half.”
As the game went on, play became pretty chippy, as Massachusetts would have 16 penalties in the game for 48 minutes, resulting in 10 Notre Dame power plays.
The Irish would score just once in the third period and it snapped a long power-play drought. Russo scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 17:07 for his second goal of the game to make it 4-0. The goal came on a long blast from the left point off passes from Hinostroza and Lucia.
The power-play goal snapped a zero-for-30 streak without scoring with the man advantage. Notre Dame’s last power-play goal came at Minnesota on Nov. 9.
For the game, the Irish finished 1-for-10 with the man advantage while the Minutemen were 0-for-3.
“I hope this is what we needed to get going. Our power play is still struggling. I thought we had some good chances and finally got one five-on-three, but for a team that possesses the puck you should be able to do more on the power play. Give UMass credit, they block a lot of shots, so a lot of pucks don’t even get through.”
The win should give the Irish a confidence boost to close out the first half of the season. They will break for finals and the Christmas holidays and won’t have a game for 22 days before returning to action in the Florida College Hockey Classic at Estero, Florida on Dec. 28-29. Notre Dame will face former CCHA foe Miami in the 4:30 game on Dec. 28 with tournament host Cornell meeting Lake Superior State at 7:30 p.m.
** IRISH NOTES **
** Robbie Russo’s two-goal game was his second of the season and third of his career. For the weekend, the senior defenseman had two goals and three assists for five points. For the season, he leads Notre Dame in scoring with seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points. That ranks him third overall in Hockey East and first among Hockey East defensemen. Nationally, he is tied for second among defensemen in scoring, trailing just Union’s Jeff Taylor who has 19 points. His seven goals are tops among defensemen both in Hockey East and in the nation.
** Sophomore forward Vince Hinostroza snapped a four-game streak without a point in the series versus Massachusetts, picking up five assists on the weekend against Massachusetts. He now has two goals and 12 assists for 14 points on the season.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FNotre Dame (8-8-2/4-2-2) 0 3 1 - 4Massachusetts (4-11-0/1-9-0) 0 0 0 - 0
1st Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; UMA: 3 for 6 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 5 for 18 minutes; UMA: 7 for 22 minutes.
3rd Period: ND: Russo 7 (Hinostroza, Lucia), PPG, 17:07
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; UMA: 6 for 22 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 8 - 16 - 9 - 33Massachusetts 1 - 5 - 8 - 14
Goaltender Saves:ND: Cal Petersen (59:53) 1 - 5 - 8 - 14UM: Steve Mastalerz (60:00) 8 - 13 - 8 - 29
Power Plays:ND: 1 for 10UMA: 0 for 3