Notre Dame scored in the opening minutes of the first two periods Sunday night, and then played keep away to earn a series split at home against No. 11 Western Michigan.
Irish captain Anders Lee scored twice against Western Michigan in his team's 4-0 win Sunday night,
If there was any wind in Western Michigan’s sails at the start of the game it was quickly swept away by a power play goal less than three minutes after the opening faceoff. No. 8 Notre Dame(6-2) held the Broncos(4-2) to a total of 14 shots on goal, which led to an easy night between the pipes for junior Steven Summerhays. He posted his second shutout of the season in the 4-0 win.
Junior captain Anders Lee scored twice for the Irish, including an empty netter from his own blue line to clinch the win, and increased his team-high total to five goals so far this season. Lee’s first goal was also a lay-up. He stuffed home a puck that slipped off linemate Bryan Rust’s stick as he came from behind the goal and found its way to Lee on the backside of an open net.
“It seemed like tonight we just had a lot more energy than them,” Lee said. “We were all over them, able to get pucks deep and wear them down.”
Jeff Costello delivered a knockout blow three minutes after Lee’s first goal. He split a pair of defenders near the blue line then backhanded his own rebound through sophomore goalie Frank Slubowski’s five hole. Western Michigan threw in the towel from there, yanking Slubowski (11 saves) to give freshman Lukas Hafner some work.
Unlike the weekend’s first game, which the Broncos won 3-2 Friday night, Notre Dame controlled the puck from start to finish. Freshman Steven Fogarty started the scoring with the initial power play goal. He slid in from the point and roofed a wrist shot past Slubowski for his third goal of the season. Fogarty nearly had another in the third period after picking an opponent’s pocket in the netural zone and driving all the way to net to get off a quality shot.
“People can see his raw ability,” head coach Jeff Jackson said about the freshman. “He’s got great poise with the puck. The biggest thing with him is he needs to learn consistency, and he needs to be engaged when he plays the game. He showed signs of that tonight where he has a little bit more oomph to his game.”
Notre Dame’s entire lineup played with that extra energy after Fogarty’s early goal. Striking first has been the clear recipe success for this Irish team in the first month of the season. They are 6-0 when scoring the first goal and 0-2 when giving it up.
“It’s one of our goals every game to score that first goal and play with a lead,” Lee said. “That takes a load off of us. It takes the pressure off a little bit and it puts them on their heels rather than us.”
Pressure seemed to get to the Irish Friday night while playing in front of a home crowd of roughly 5,000 fans. Notre Dame, much like the school’s third-ranked football team, has struggled in its own building this season. Their only other loss this year came on the first night of a homestand against Minnesota-Duluth.
“I talked to them before the game, just watching the football team playing yesterday, there’s something about playing here at home that is a factor. They want to do well … and I think they approach it the wrong way,” Jackson said referring to his own team. “We want to apply pressure and not let pressure affect us.”
The home crowd won’t be an issue during the next two weeks. Instead, Notre Dame will get to travel to Conte Forum next Friday for a road game against No. 1 Boston College. Then they play a pair of games against No. 8 Michigan at Yost Arena before returning home to host No. 5 North Dakota for a weekend.
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