Jan. 16, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
The Notre Dame hockey team (9-11-3, 4-2-3 Hockey East) peppered the Connecticut (7-10-5, 4-4-2) net all night long, taking a season-high 44 shots on goal, but Husky netminder Rob Nichols was able to save 41 of them to help preserve a 3-3 tie on Friday night at a sold out Compton Family Ice Arena.
The 44 shots are Notre Dame’s most in Hockey East play and its most overall since placing 45 shots on net against Lake Superior State on Jan. 18, 2014. The Irish knotted the score on the power play midway through the third period on an Austin Wuthrich goal, keeping the Huskies in the Hockey East standings.
“That’s their game – to get in shot lanes,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “For us to get that many shots through is a positive. I thought we did a good job. We could have shot more, probably. He played well and they play well in front of him. They don’t give you many second shot opportunities.”
The first six minutes of action were uneventful before the game came to a screeching halt at 6:23 when UConn’s Ryan Segalla picked up a major penalty for hitting Dawson Cook from behind into the boards. Just four seconds after that penalty, at 6:27, Notre Dame broke through into the scoring column first. Steven Fogarty won the faceoff back to Jordan Gross who passed to Robbie Russo. The leading scorer in Hockey East among blueliners added to his goal count by blasting a slap shot past a screened Nichols in the UConn goal for hi eighth goal and 20th point of the year.
The Huskies would knot the score at 1-1 before the end of the opening period when Spencer Naas found himself alone in the slot and converted on a feed from behind the net, picking the top corner past Notre Dame netminder Cal Petersen’s glove. Notre Dame enjoyed a 15-7 advantage in shots on goal during a frame when the Irish generally carried the play.
Mario Lucia put the Irish back on top 2-1 at the 8:45 mark of the second period with his 14th goal of the year, for the moment tying him for the Hockey East lead with Danny O’Regan of Boston University. Gross controlled the puck at the point, fed it through the Husky defense to Austin Wuthrich by the left post who deftly slid it across the crease to Lucia for the second-generation Irish skater to easily deposit into the UConn net.
The Huskies showed some speed to score two goals 1:21 seconds apart late in the second period and take a 3-2 lead into intermission. The first goal came at 14:35 wen UConn enjoyed a mini two-on-one down low after Evan Richardson flew through the neutral zone. Richardson fed Shawn Pauly for the game-tying strike. Shortly thereafter, the Husky transition game set Cody Sharib up with a clean breakaway on Petersen with the Husky winger able to score and put his team on top 3-2.
“We want our defensemen to be aggressive and active but people have to cover for them,” Jackson said. “It’s a five-man game. Defensemen are going down the forwards have to be there to cover for them. We want to encourage our D to be aggressive and part of the offense. It’s a five-man unit when you’re cycling and forechecking. You’ve got to make sure you have support from the forwards.”
Notre Dame’s hustle earned a power play midway through the third period when Sam Herr’s clean break in on net was interrupted by a holding the stick infraction against Jacob Poe. Notre Dame maintained possession well throughout the power play before equalizing the contest 1:44 into the man-advantage and 11:37 into the stanza. Wuthrich netted his seventh goal of the year off of the rebound of a point shot from Russo. The Irish also scored a power play goal on Jan. 10 against Western Michigan, marking the first time this year that Notre Dame has notched a power play goal in consecutive games.
After holding a dominating 14-3 edge in third period shots n goal, the Irish kept their attack going during the five-minute overtime session, outshooting UConn, 5-1. Nichols turned away all of those shots to help keep the final score level at 3-3. For the game, Notre Dame outshot UConn, 44-20.
“There were good things in the third period,” Jackson said. “We won the third period. We scored a power play goal and we killed off a big penalty. That’s all positive. It’s good to go into Sunday’s game on a positive note. They probably lead the country in blocked shots.”
The Irish and Huskies will complete an unusual 750-miles apart home-and-home series at noon on Sunday when the teams face off at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.