Momentum is rolling in the right direction for No. 6 Notre Dame as we approach the midway point of the college hockey season.
Irish junior T.J. Tynan snapped a slump with his first goal since Oct. 19 in a blowout win Saturday.
The Irish (11-4, 7-1 CCHA) picked up their fifth win in the last six games Saturday night while completing the first home sweep of the year with a 6-1 win over Lake Superior State. After a 3-2 win Friday night — the first series opening victory at Compton Ice Arena this season — Notre Dame buried the visiting Lakers (7-9, 4-6 CCHA) early with four first period goals.
A talented roster of forwards is starting to live up to its goal-scoring potential after getting through a stretch of tough competition. The Irish have scored 22 goals during the successful six-game stretch. Its top two lines and a rejuvenated power play unit are all finding their groove at the same time.
“I think you just have chemistry with certain guys and we found that in the last couple weeks,” said junior T.J. Tynan.
Tynan snapped out of a personal slump Saturday with an assist and his first goal since Oct. 19. The junior led Notre Dame in scoring during his first two seasons but had only six total points heading into the series against Lake Superior State.
He’s starting to build that chemistry he referred to with freshman linemate Mario Lucia, who had a team-high two goals in Saturday’s win. Tynan was credited with an assist on Lucia’s second goal. He teed up a slap shot during a 4-on-3 power play that went off the boards behind net and landed on Lucia’s stick at the opposite post.
Juniors Bryan Rust, Stephen Johns and Anders Lee each added goals to contribute to the lopsided final score. Lee’s goal was his fifth in the last four games and helped him continue his point-per-night pace this season. He currently leads the CCHA with 10 goals on the year.
“I think it’s a collective effort,” head coach Jeff Jackson said about his team’s recent offensive explosion. “We’re doing a good job in transition. I think our [defenseman] are jumping in the play. We’re doing a good job of creating offense from defense.”
Junior defenseman Shayne Taker contributed three assists Saturday night, joining fellow blue-liners Johns and Robbie Russo in the playmaker category. That pair was tied for the team lead with seven assists each at the start of the night.
Taker set up Lucia’s first goal late in the first period with a nice pass in front of the net that the freshman redirected past Lake Superior State goalie Kevin Kapalka. Kapalka’s night ended after surrendering four goals on 12 shots in the first period.
“We truly we believe we have the best forwards in the country so when we tip it in there and let them do what they do best I don’t think any team can compete with us,” Taker said.
Senior Mike Johnson started in net for Notre Dame and stopped 13 of the 14 shots he saw before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the second period. The game turned chippy after Matt Bruneteau was whistled from charging the goaltender on the play that sent Johnson to the locker room. The regular Irish starter, junior Steven Summerhays, came in and closed the door with 13 saves of his own.
Notre Dame plays another two-game set in South Bend next weekend against Michigan State and one game against Bowling Green on Dec. 15 before entering its month-long midseason break.