Summerhays Holds Key for Notre Dame
by Susan Crosby/CHN Reporter
Consistency. Resiliency. Higher expectations. Staying focused during adversity. All are keys to any successful team on the ice. For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, just like any successful program, the foundation for those keys is built far away from the rink.
The annual Ice Breaker tournament, traditionally a landmark early season tournament that marks the effective beginning of the college hockey season, saw Notre Dame emerge as the tourney winner, with newly-anointed starting goaltender Steven Summerhays leading the way with impressive performances between the pipes. Promptly, however, the Irish proceeded to drop their first game on home ice to Minnesota-Duluth – and they did so through a variety of mental breakdowns and sloppy mistakes. Turnovers, penalties and lapses in play led to a 3-1 loss last Thursday night.
Ready to show the CCHA that last season’s surprisingly blasé final few months represented an aberration, Notre Dame bounced back on home ice the next night. Behind a raucous fan base, the Irish overcame UMD 4-1 and practiced exactly what head coach Jeff Jackson has been preaching as gospel for this season.
“We shot ourselves in the foot [Friday] with penalties and turnovers,” Jackson said. “I thought we played much better in the early stages of the game to control the tempo, and you don’t do that from the penalty box. We played much more consistent tonight than Thursday.”
An overall team effort was matched by the back end performance in back-to-back games by Summerhays.
Certainly, Notre Dame has the potential to go a long way, with big names like Anders Lee, T.J. Tynan and Robbie Russo in the mix. But goaltending was a sore spot last season, when the Irish were ranked first in preseason polls and went downhill from there, and it's crucial to their hopes of a rebound
Consequently, challenged by Jackson to step up his ability to come back and regroup after tough goals and tough games, Summerhays has been rewarded with a dramatic increase of playing time.
In response, Summerhays has showed his team and coach that he was ready both mentally and physically for the larger role.
“It was nice to see that coach Jackson trusted me to go out there and after a loss,” said Summerhays. “He has really been working with me to just be able to turn the page after being scored on, especially if it is early on in a period, or even after like the last game, to just go out there and turn the page and look forward to the next game. You have to have a short memory if you are a goalie.”