Nov. 3, 2013
Burlington, Vt. – For just over 53 minutes on Saturday night, it looked like everything that Notre Dame threw at Vermont goaltender Mike Santaguida, th3 5-9, 175-pound netminder or his defense would stop it.
Enter Irish sophomore left wing Sam Herr who in the space of 1:02 late in the third period helped Notre Dame snatch its first-ever Hockey East victory from the jaws of defeat. Trailing 2-1, Herr beat Santaguida first on a wrist shot from a bad angle over the goaltender’s right shoulder and under the cross bar to tie the game at 2-2 at the 13:18 mark.
Just over 60 seconds later, on an almost identical play, Herr raced down the left wing and laced a wrist shot that beat the Vermont goaltender low and inside the far post to give the Irish their only lead of the weekend and a 3-2 victory.
Robert Polesello and Colin Markison had staked the Catamounts to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period before senior defenseman Stephen Johns went coast-to-coast on a rush before beating Santaguida on a breakaway to cut the lead in half after two periods of play.
Another tight-checking game saw Vermont edge the Irish in shots by a 28-27 margin. Steven Summerhays made 26 saves, including 20 over the final two periods to seal the win. Santaguida had 24 saves in the contest.
The win improves second-ranked Notre Dame to 6-2-0 overall and 1-1-0 in Hockey East play. Vermont falls to 2-2-1 on the season and 1-1-0 in conference play.
“When we were down two goals, I thought we were playing much better than being down by two goals,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
“Our guys really put their heads down after the second one that was at the end of the period and came back. We got a great goal from Stephen Johns in the second to turn the corner for us and get us back in the game. This was a big win for us. I was proud of the way they came back in the third period.”
After dropping the series opener on Friday night by a 2-1 score, things did not start out well for Notre Dame in Saturday’s late afternoon contest.
Polesello staked the Cats to an early 1-0 lead just 2:41 into the first period when he took a pass from defenseman Nick Bruneteau near the top of the right circle and beat Summerhays with a shot to the far left post for his second goal of the season. That goal got the sellout crowd of 4,007 at Gutterson Fieldhouse into the game quickly.
The score would stay that way until the final minute of the first period when the Catamounts capitalized on an Irish turnover in the neutral zone and scored of a 2-on-1 at 19:17.
H.T. Lenz picked off the errant Notre Dame pass and moved it ahead to Markison. Using Lenz as a decoy, Markison snapped a shot from between the hashmarks that beat Summerhays to make it 2-0. The goal was Markison’s first of the season and things didn’t look too good for Irish fortunes.
Johns would get Notre Dame back in the game early in the second with a great end-to-end rush. With the face off in the Irish zone to the left of Summerhays, T.J. Tynan won the draw back to Johns who carried around the Notre Dame goal. He moved the puck up the right side to Bryan Rust who chipped it back to him near the right circle. The senior defenseman did the rest as he beat the Vermont defense up the ice and went in alone on Santaguida, tucking a neat backhander between the goaltender’s stick and body to make it 2-1. The goal was the first of the season for Johns.
The Irish kept coming in the third period, but just couldn’t seem to dent the Vermont defense. Herr finally broke through on a shot that the Catamount goaltender would like to have back.
Bryan Rust, who had two assists in the game, carried across the blue line and slid the puck to Herr coming down the left side. The 6-0, 206-pound forward fired a wrist shot from a bad angle between the boards and the left circle and saw it climb over Santaguida’s right shoulder and into the goal at 13:18 for Herr’s fourth of the season to tie the game at 2-2.
“That goal came off of some good defensive zone coverage. Rusty (Rust) had to cover for Tynan down low and we broke out on a 3-on-2 rush. There wasn’t a pass, so I just wanted to get a good shot on goal. I guess he (Santaguida) was cheating and it snuck in short side,” explained Herr.
The sophomore didn’t even have a chance to enjoy his first marker when he got his next chance a few moments later at 14:20.
Right wing Peter Schneider broke up a Vermont rush in the neutral zone and Herr carried it back on goal. He laced a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Santaguida low to the ice and inside the right post to give the Irish the lead and Herr had his team-best fifth goal of the season.
“The second goal came off the neutral zone forecheck like we’ve been doing all season,” said Herr.
“I came in the middle and the defense coughed up the puck. Schneids (Schneider) did a good job of forcing them towards the boards. I saw a little opening on the glove side and the puck beat him there.”
“Sam was playing well. I was double-shifting him there with two different lines,” said Jackson.
“I think the extra ice time got his juices going. He probably had more ice time tonight than he has since he’s been here. He took advantage of it. He played big. We always new he had good hands and could shoot the puck. He got the opportunities tonight and made the most of it.”
With one weekend in the books for Hockey East play, the Irish got a good look at how competitive the conference will be. Neither team had any success on the power play, as Notre Dame was 0-for-6 on Saturday night and 0-for-12 on the weekend.
The Irish now return home to open a four-game home stand. Notre Dame plays host to the University of Minnesota in a two-game series on Nov. 8-9. Friday’s game will start at 8:05 p.m. This is Minnesota’s first visit to Notre Dame since Feb. 29-March 1, 1980 when both schools were members of the WCHA.
* Stephen Johns’ goal in the second period was the first even-strength goal for the Irish since Oct. 25 at Minnesota Duluth. It snapped a streak of 164:52 that saw Notre Dame just score special team goals.
* On the weekend, Bryan Rust finally broke through on the scoresheet as he had a three-point weekend, getting a short-handed goal on Friday night and two assists in Saturday’s win.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F#2/#2 Notre Dame (6-2-0/1-1-0) 0 1 2 - 3Vermont (2-2-1/1-1-0) 2 0 0 - 2
Scoring 1st Period: UVM: Robert Polesello 2 (Nick Bruneteau,Rob Hamilton), 2:41; UVM: Colin Markison 1 (H.T. Lenz), 1917.
Penalties: ND: 0 for 0 minutes; UVM: 2 for 4 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; UVM: 2 for 4 minutes.
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; UVM: 2 for 4 minutes.
Shots On Goal:Notre Dame 9 - 7 - 11 - 27Vermont 8 - 16 - 4 - 28
Goaltender Saves:ND: Steven Summerhays (59:48) 6 - 16 - 4 - 26UVM: Mike Santaguida (59:54) 9 - 6 - 9 - 24
Power Plays:ND: 0 for 6UVM: 0 for 4
Attendance: 4,007 (sellout)