Sophomore defenseman Robbie Russo was named the CCHA Gladiator Defensive Player of the Week for his play in the Michigan series last week.

Irish Fall At Home To Western Michigan, 3-2

Nov. 3, 2012

Final Stats

Notre Dame, Ind. – November 2, 2012 The Notre Dame Fighting Irish fired 18 third-period shots on Western Michigan goaltender Frank Slubowski in a frantic, third-period rally that fell short by one goal as Notre Dame fell to the Broncos, 3-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday night.

Slubowski finished the game with 35 saves and got a pair of goals from senior right wing Dane Walters and one, the game winner, from junior center Chase Balisy. Anders Lee and Robbie Russo scored for the Irish in the comeback attempt that was too little to late as they trailed 2-0 after two periods and 3-1 in the third.

The loss snaps a three-game Notre Dame winning streak and drops the #8/#7 Irish to 5-2-0 overall and 2-1-0-0 in the CCHA. Western Michigan, ranked 11th in both polls, improves to 4-1-0 for the season and 1-0-0-0 in conference action.

“The second period was definitely the difference in the game,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.

“We played a decent first period and played with urgency in the third. That power-play goal in the third hurt. We had momentum going and took a penalty and the whole game changes.”

After a scoreless first period, Western Michigan’s offense came to life in the second led by Walters, the Bronco captain, who scored twice in just under five minutes early in the period to give Western the 2-0 lead.

The senior from St. Paul, Minn., broke the 0-0 tie at 1:28 when he deflected a shot in the slot off the stick of defenseman Jordan Oesterle from the blue line past Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays for his first of the season. Left wing Mike Leone was able to work the puck loose along the right wing boards and get it back to Oesterle for his shot.

Walters was at it again at 6:21 of the second period on the power play as he banged the rebound of a Mike Cichy shot through Summerhays’ pads for his second goal in a 4:53 span.

“We had a bit of a breakdown on that goal,” said Summerhays.

“We were moving it around the boards and lost the puck in front. He (Walters) had plenty of time to shoot and beat me five-hole”

The Irish hit the ice in the third period with a sense of urgency and poured 18 shots on Slubowski, scoring twice.

They finally broke through on the sophomore just 42 seconds into the third when Lee and left wing Jeff Costello teamed on a nifty give-and-go with Lee burying a backhander past Slubowski, beating him high to his stick side for his third goal of the season.

Defenseman Stephen Johns started the play in his own zone as he fired a pass towards Costello in the neutral zone. Costello redirected the pass off the right wing boards that put Lee in on Slubowski with a defender trying to catch him. Notre Dame’s captain lifted the backhander from the right face-circle to beat the Western goaltender and make it a 2-1 game.

“We had a lot of shots tonight, but they do a real good job blocking shots,” said Lee.

“I thought we responded well in the third period, but you just can’t wait that long to get it going. Falling behind 2-0 is tough to come back from.”

The Broncos would get their fourth power play of the game at 4:26 of the third and Balisy gave them a 3-1 lead at 5:05 when he beat Summerhays over his blocker with a wrist shot from the slot for his first goal of the season. Defenseman Kenney Morrison kept a Notre Dame clearing attempt in on the left-wing boards and fired it all the way around to the right boards where Balisy picked it up. The junior carried the puck across the slot before beating Summerhays. The power-play goal was the second of the game for Western Michigan as the Broncos were 2-for-4 on the night.

Notre Dame wasn’t done however and would score a power-play goal of its own at 7:28 of the third as Russo beat Slubowski from the bottom of the left circle for his second goal of the season to make it 3-2. Lee and Costello did the dirty work in the left corner with Lee finding Russo for his shot. On the night, the Irish were 1-for-8 on the power play.

“First off, their goaltender is very good and Western does a good job killing penalties and blocking shots,” said Jackson.

“To me, it’s about shooting the puck and getting a net presence. We can talk about it all we want, but we have to get the guys to do it. In the third period, we shot the puck and had a better net presence.”

The Irish continued to press the play in the third, but Slubowski held the fort as the Broncos took the 3-2 decision. Notre Dame outshot Western Michigan, 37-25 for the game as Summerhays finished the night with 22 saves.

The two teams will take a day off as Notre Dame hosts the University of Pittsburgh in football on Saturday. They will return to action on Sunday afternoon in a 5:05 p.m. game.

GAME SUMMARY                                  1     2     3   -  F#11/#11 Western Michigan (4-1-0/1-0-0-0)      0     2     1   -  3#8/#7 Notre Dame (5-2-0/2-1-0-0)              0     0     2   -  2

Scoring First Period: No Scoring.

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

Second Period: WMU: Dane Walters 1 (Jordan Osterle, Mike Leone), 1:28; WMU: Walters 2 (Chase Balisy, Mike Cichy), PPG, 6:21.

Penalties: WMU: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 2 for 4 minutes.

Third Period: ND: Anders Lee 3 (Jeff Costello, Stephen Johns), 00:42; WMU: Balisy 1 (Kenney Morrison, Cichy), PPG, 5:05; ND: Robbie Russo 2 (Lee, Costello), PPG, 7:28.

Penalties: WMU: 3 for 6 minutes; ND: 1 for 2 minutes.

Shots On Goal:Western Michigan      11 - 10 -  4 - 25Notre Dame            10 -  9 - 18 - 37
Goaltender Saves:WMU: Frank Slubowski (59:58) 10 - 9 - 16 - 35ND: Steven Summerhays (58:56) 11 - 8 - 3 - 22
Power Plays:WMU: 2 for 4ND: 1 for 8
Attendance: 5,022 (sellout)