Jan. 24, 2015
BOSTON – The Notre Dame hockey team (10-13-3, 5-4-3 Hockey East) saw its power play click better than it has all season, producing a pair of goals on three attempts, but that success was not enough to overcome Northeastern (10-11-4, 6-7-2 HE) as the Huskies picked up a 4-2 victory over the Irish to complete a weekend sweep on their home ice at Matthews Arena.
“I thought we played well in the first,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “I thought we played OK in the second. In the third, they took over the game. (Mike Szmatula’s) line took over the game.”
Notre Dame showed the initial emotion that the Irish lacked in last night’s loss as Notre Dame peppered the Husky net early and broke through to open the scoring at 10:03. Austin Wuthrich had a shot blocked in front by a Husky defenseman but the puck squirted to Thomas DiPauli who ripped one into the net for a power play goal, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead. Vince Hinostroza picked up his team-leading 18th assist on the sequence.
The Huskies would knot the score at 1-1 shortly before the first intermission and just moments into a power play as Dalen Hedges knocked home his third goal of the series and seventh of the season.
After a scoreless and reasonably uneventful second period, the tide turned in a hurry in Northeastern’s favor once the third period commenced as the Huskies’ Zach Aston-Reese scored goals 10 seconds apart to open a 3-1 lead just 2:16 into the final stanza. The first strike was setup by a long pass through the neutral zone by Garret Cockerill that set Aston-Reese into the ND zone all alone streaking down the left wing for a quick shot past Cal Petersen. Northeastern won the ensuing faceoff, pushed the puck up ice resulting in a medium-length shot by Szmatula. Petersen made the save on Szmatula but Aston-Reese was in the right spot to put the rebound into a mostly-open net.
Notre Dame got the first of those two goals back on the power play, cutting its deficit to just 3-2 with 4:41 left in regulation. Defenseman Robbie Russo provided a heavy shot from the point and Anders Bjork was able to pick up the rebound for his second career goal. The assist was Russo’s 25th point of the year. He entered the contest leading all blueliners nationally in both goals and points. In a dramatic change of fortunes, it marked Notre Dame’s sixth power play goal in the last five games. The Irish netted just six power play goals over their first 21 games of the season.
Northeastern picked up an insurance goal though with 2:30 to play when Szmatula carried the puck behind the Notre Dame goal and snuck a tough-angle shot over Petersen’s shoulder and under the cross bar to account for the 4-2 final. Petersen made 22 shots in the Irish net while Clay Witt stopped 21 shots to earn the win for Northeastern.
The Irish will get back to action next weekend as they play host to New Hampshire on both Friday and Saturday nights at the Compton Family Ice Arena Face off against the Wildcats is set for 7:35 p.m. on Jan. 30 and 6:35 p.m. on Jan. 31 with NBC Sports Network broadcasting the latter contest nationally.