Dec. 8, 2014
Notre Dame, Indiana – University of Notre Dame senior defenseman Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) has been selected as the Hockey East defensive player of the week for his play for the Irish in a pair of games at Massachusetts on Dec. 5-6.
Russo paced Notre Dame to its first Hockey East road sweep since joining the conference last season as the Irish defeated the Minutemen 7-5 on Dec. 5 and then added a 4-0 shutout win on Dec. 6. Russo scored a pair of goals and added three assists for a five-point weekend.
In the come-from-behind, 7-5 win on Friday night; the Irish trailed 3-2 after two periods. They would score a season high five goals in the third period, including four in a span of 6:26, to take the win. Russo recorded three assists in the game with all of them coming in that third-period rally.
At 1:13 of the stanza, he set up Mario Lucia’s (Jr., Plymouth, Minn.) game-tying goal that made it 3-3. Then at 5:31he added a helper on Jordan Gross’ (Fr., Maple Valley, Minn.) second goal of the season that gave Notre Dame a 4-3 lead. His final assist came at 6:53 when he helped set up Peter Schneider’s (Sr., Vienna, Austria) first goal of the game for a 5-3 lead. In all, Russo had three assists in a span of five-minutes and 40-seconds. For the game, he was +2 with no shots on goal.
The three-assist game was the first of Russo’s career and the three-point game was the second of his career.
On Saturday night, Russo went from set-up man to goal scorer as he scored twice in the game, getting the first and last goal in the 4-0 victory.
The 6-0, 191-pound blue liner led Notre Dame with six shots in the game and was +3 on the night as the Irish defense held Massachusetts to just 14 shots in the game, the lowest shot total by an opponent against Notre Dame this season.
Russo broke up a scoreless tie with the eventual game winner at 2:08 of the second period when he took a pass from left wing Sam Herr (Jr., Hinsdale, Ill.) and one-timed a shot from a bad angle near the goal line and below the left circle that snuck in between the left post and Massachusetts’ goaltender Steve Mastalerz’s pads. The goal was Russo’s sixth of the season.
With the Irish leading 3-0 in the third, Russo got his second of the night at 17:07 of the third period on a five-on-three power-play goal. Lucia moved the puck from the goal line to the top of the right circle where Vince Hinostroza (So., Bartlett, Ill.) slid it to Russo at the center point. The New York Islander draft choice hammered a shot through a screen and past Mastalerz for his seventh of the season and the 4-0 final. The goal snapped a Notre Dame power-play drought that had reached 30 consecutive chances and was the first man-advantage goal for the Irish since Nov. 9.
For the season, Russo leads Notre Dame in scoring and is third in overall Hockey East scoring. He is tops among Hockey East defensemen in goals (7) and points (17) for the year. Nationally, his seven goals are tops among all Division I defensemen and his 17 points ties him for second with two others, just two points behind the national leader.
Russo and the Irish are 8-8-2 on the season and 4-2-2 in Hockey East, good for 10 points and fifth place in the conference. Notre Dame does not play again until Dec. 28 at the Florida College Hockey Classic as they break for finals and the Christmas holidays.