Notre Dame Left With Sour Taste Again
Second Straight First-Round Exit at Hands of Huskies
by Ryan Evans/CHN Reporter
ST. PAUL, Minn. After all the work Notre Dame did to get to the NCAAs again, including three wins against Boston College down the stretch, it was all squandered in the blink of an eye.
Or, more precisely, in the shot of St. Cluod State's Nic Dowd.
The Huskies' senior forward, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, played hero late in overtime, putting a wrister into the top shelf to send his team to Sunday’s NCAA West Regional Final.
With just over two minutes remaining in the extra frame, St. Cloud’s neutral zone forecheck caused a turnover near its offensive blue line and sophomore forward David Morley got the puck to Dowd, who streaked down the left side and wristed the puck top right to seal the Huskies’ victory.
“I kind of lost mobility in my entire body after that puck went in,” Dowd said of his OT winner.
For the Fighting Irish, the loss marks another enormously disappointing end to a season. For the second-straight year, Notre Dame exits in the tournament’s first round after coming in with high expectations, both times to St. Cloud State. All told, the Irish haven't been to the Frozen Four now since 2011.
“I’m disappointed for the seniors more than anything. I feel bad for them,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. "They are great kids and I know more than anything they wanted to bring a championship here. I can’t speak enough about all of them. They had great careers and are a great group of kids.”
The Irish came into St. Paul as one of the nation’s hottest teams, with eight wins in their past 11 games, and carried that momentum through regulation. Notre Dame was the better team through 60 minutes, tripling up St. Cloud State in shots, 36-12. But, unfortunately for the Irish, it wasn’t enough. Notre Dame was forced to play catch up all night and, after trading goals for three periods, eventually ran out of answers.
“We thought we were playing good hockey the whole time,” Notre Dame senior forward Jeff Costello said. “We were staying positive on the bench and definitely thought we would get the next one if we kept working and doing what we were doing.”
“It’s the stuff that keeps you up at night and you have nightmares about,” Costello added of seeing his team’s effort fall short in overtime. “It’s something I am never going to forget.”
St. Cloud State wouldn’t have had the chance to win in overtime if it wasn’t for its junior goaltender, Ryan Faragher. Faragher weathered the barrage of Notre Dame chances in regulation to keep St. Cloud in the game, stopping 33 shots through 60 minutes en route to a season-high 39 saves.
But, no stop was bigger than the one in overtime on Irish freshman forward Vince Hinostroza. Hinostroza had the game on his stick on a breakaway and tried to beat Faragher to the left post, but the Huskies netminder met him there to yet again bail his team out.
“He’s done that all year — huge saves at huge times,” Morley said of Faragher. “That’s what we needed and then we got the bounce a few minutes later.”
In the other goal, Notre Dame senior puck stopper Steven Summerhays — who was the foundation on which the Irish’s late season run was built — was uncharacteristically suspect against the Huskies. Over Notre Dame’s 8-2-1 stretch to close out the regular season, Summerhays — a finalist for the inaugural Mike Richter Award – was rock solid, posting a 1.71 goals against average and .939 save percentage, but couldn’t replicate that success in St. Paul, allowing three goals on just 12 regulation shots.
“Steven (Summerhays) didn’t have a chance on either of those first two goals. Those were a case of defensive breakdowns,” said Jackson. “He really held us in there in the overtime. We started turning pucks over and giving up odd-man rushes.
After struggling to get pucks on net through three periods, St. Cloud came out with renewed energy in overtime. The Huskies landed just 12 shots on goal in 60 minutes of regulation, but created 16 chances in the extra frame before Dowd netted the game winner.
"For 60 minutes we played some pretty good hockey but then we changed our game in overtime and gave St. Cloud a lot of life,” Jackson said.
“We started playing high risk and it cost us in the end. We were trying to force things. Too many guys were trying to go one-on-the-show, turning pucks over. We gave up 12 shots in the first three periods and 16 in overtime. That’s all a result of turning pucks over and taking penalties.”