Irish junior Bryan Rust wasted little time in sudden death overtime Friday night. Rust came off the bench one minute into the extra period and skated directly for the high slot. He gathered a pass from behind the net and flipped a backhander past Bowling Green’s Andrew Hammond, bringing an end to the 60-minute stalemate.
Irish junior Bryan Rust scored a sudden death overtime goal to lead Notre Dame past Bowling Green Friday night.
In a typical, gritty first game of the postseason Notre Dame pounded away at Hammond and the Falcons for three periods before Rust found a crease for the 1-0 win at Compton Family Ice Arena. The sudden death goal gives the Irish a leg up in the best-of-three quarterfinal series and leaves them one game away from a trip to Joe Louis Arena.
Notre Dame held the puck inside their offensive zone throughout the first shift of overtime. With Bowling Green pinned down, the Irish got a chance to get fresh legs on the ice. Junior Jeff Costello dug a loose puck out from behind the net in time to see Rust cutting toward the crease.
“I was just getting on the ice and I was able to get open in the slot,” Rust said. “Costello found me and I was able to kick it up to my stick and make a move to my backhand.”
Hammond got a pad on the shot, but not quite enough of one. On the 37th shot he faced on the night, the Falcons senior goalie finally let one trickle past him. He had not allowed a goal in 133 consecutive minutes prior to that game-winner.
A streaking goalie is dangerous in the playoffs, and Bowling Green’s 6-foot-3 senior is playing at the top of his game. There’s no easy remedy for the Irish to slow him down, said head coach Jeff Jackson.
“The biggest thing is you have to get pucks to net and bodies to the net. If he doesn’t see it, he can’t stop it,” Jackson said. “He even got a piece of that winning goal. He’s a good goaltender and he makes it difficult to get scoring chances because he is a big kid.”
Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays had a standout performance of his own Friday night. The junior turned away all 22 shots he faced and got a little help from his posts early on to keep the Irish in the game while they regained their game legs.
The Falcons best chance of the night came 40 second after the opening faceoff. Brent Tate stuffed an early wraparound attempt into Summerhays’ pads. The rebound kicked out to junior Brett Mohler who fired an off-balanced shot that clanged off the cross bar. Mohler hit another post later in the first period on a shot that snuck by the Irish goalie’s stick side.
It took Notre Dame until late in the second period to find the offensive rhythm that waned during its bye last weekend. The Irish were the only team among the top four seeds that won Friday coming off the first round free pass.
A strong move from sophomore Austin Wuthrich generated one of the better scoring opportunities of regulation for the Irish with six minutes to play in the period and seemed to tip the momentum in their direction for the rest of the night.
“I thought that was when it started to change, when they started to pick up the forecheck and cycle game that they play,” Jackson said about Wuthrich’s line.
Notre Dame got another shot of energy midway through the third period when Summerhays found himself in a shoving match with a pair of Bowling Green forwards in front of his net.
“I think coach would rather me stay out of those scrums, but personally I kind of get a boost out of that. I like those physical games,” Summerhays said.
Rust dragged a Falcon out of the pile and dumped him on the ice. He said the brief donnybrook gave him a second wind as well after playing an unusually high number of minutes throughout the second half of the game. Rust double-shifted during the second period to help replace junior Mike Voran, who left the game with an undisclosed injury. Jackson said he tapered Rust’s action in the third period, which left him rejuvenated to make short work in overtime.
Voran’s status is still up in air for Saturday night’s rematch. The two teams will meet again at 7:05 p.m.in South Bend. An Irish win will send them to the soon-to-crumble conference’s last semifinals the following week in Detroit.