March 17, 2014
Notre Dame, Ind. – Senior defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.) has been selected as the Hockey East co-defensive player of the week along with UMass-Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebucyk for the week ending March 16.
Johns was instrumental in Notre Dame’s two games-to-one series victory against Boston College in the Hockey East Quarterfinals from March 14-16 as he scored three goals, added one assist and had four points in the Irish victory.
By winning the series at BC’s Conte Forum, Notre Dame moves on to T.D. Garden in Boston on March 21 to face UMass-Lowell at 5:00 p.m. in one of Hockey East’s semifinal games. Providence and New Hampshire will battle in the second semifinal game at 8:00 p.m. The two winners meet at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, in the Hockey East Championship game.
“We are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said Johns after the weekend at Boston College.
“We know that if we all play together with the same kind of jam, we can play with any team in the country.”
Johns helped get the series off to a fast start for Notre Dame as he scored twice and added an assist in Friday’s 7-2 win over the Eagles. The senior defenseman scored his first goal at 19:51 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1 and start a seven-goal run by the Irish. His second goal of the night at 2:50 of the second period put Notre Dame ahead to stay at 2-1. He then assisted on Peter Schneider’s goal that gave the Irish a 4-1 advantage. He had three shots in the game and was +2. John’s two-goal game was the first of his career and his three-point game was a season best.
“It’s nice to chip in whenever I can. I’ve worked on my offensive game a lot during my four years at school,” Johns said following the 7-2 win in game one.
“To be able to score two huge goals in a huge game like this is great for my confidence and is huge for the team’s confidence because everyone is chipping in.”
After Notre Dame fell 4-2 in Saturday’s game to the Eagles, Johns again jump started the Irish attack in Sunday’s deciding game as he went coast-to-coast for his third goal of the series, beating goaltender Thatcher Demko by stuffing the puck inside the left post at 11:31 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Notre Dame would go on to win the contest by a 4-2 verdict. The 6-4, 233-pound defenseman had three shots on the night and was +1 while blocking two shots in the victory.
The weekend capped what has been a career year for Johns. He has played in all 38 games this season with career highs in goals (8) and points (20) as he leads all Notre Dame defensemen in scoring. He is +9 for the season and he has two power-play goals, one short-handed tally and one game winner.
For his career, Johns is now tied for third on the all-time games played list with teammate T.J. Tynan (Sr., Orland Park, Ill.) with 162 career games played. He has scored 15 goals with 42 assists for 57 career points.
Notre Dame goes into the Hockey East Championship as the tournament’s eighth seed. The Irish are ranked eighth in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll and 10th in the USCHO.com rankings. They are currently 23-13-2 on the season.