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December 2, 2012

Irish roll to home sweep

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Scoring once or twice in the opening 20 minutes will get the Notre Dame hockey team into the win column most nights.

Heading into its series finale with Lake Superior State on Saturday the Irish remained an unblemished 9-0 this season when scoring first. They did just that Saturday and more, piling up four goals in the first period en route to a 6-1 victory and first home series sweep of the season.

Mario Lucia scored twice and Anders Lee added his team leading 10th goal of the season, extending a four-game streak with at least one goal. Lee has five scores in that stretch.

“Personally, I don’t really think about it,” said center T.J. Tynan. “Obviously, getting that first goal is huge no matter what team you are or who you’re playing. For sure scoring that first goal is a great momentum for us and it’s real positive if we do that each night.”

Notre Dame (11-4-0, 7-1-0-0 CCHA) captured its lead just over five minutes into the first period when Bryan Rust scored his fourth goal of the season.

Three more goals followed in the next 11 minutes. Tynan scored his third of the season and first since Oct. 19 against Minnesota-Duluth. Lucia netted the first of his pair. Defenseman Stephen Johns notched his first of the year, this one on a power play.

Defenseman Shayne Taker assisted both Tynan and Lucia on his way to three total.

“We’ve got a lot of guys with offensive talent and a lot of guys with poise,” Taker said. “So, you know, for guys like me ... (and) all the guys back there, the points will come. Like today, a couple of my assists, one was off the glass, one was a chip in deep. We know we have the forwards to do it. All we’ve gotta do is give them the puck and once in awhile we can join in there too.”

Lake Superior State (7-9-0, 4-6-0-0) emerged from the dressing room with its only goal at 10:47 of the second period. Lucia then tacked on his second goal at 14:50 on a power play after Lakers defenseman Matt Bruneteau went to the penalty box for charging Irish goalie Mike Johnson.

Johnson, making his first start since beating Northern Michigan on Oct. 27, headed to the locker room with an ankle injury. He made 13 saves in just over 34 minutes of play.

“He was sharp,” said head coach Jeff Jackson. “It was unfortunate. I wish he could’ve finished the game. It would’ve been good for him. But we’ve just got to get him healthy now. He’ll get games in the second half probably more than he did in the first half because I want to spot Steven (Summerhays).

During the remaining 25 minutes Summerhays made 13 saves to preserve the five-goal difference.

The Irish have now won five of their last six and will take a three-game unbeaten streak into next weekend’s home series with Michigan State. The series with the Spartans along with one road game at Bowling Green is all that remains before the holiday break.

“We’ve been playing really well, especially this weekend,” Tynan said. “(Friday) I don’t think we played our best game at all. I think we played very average. And (Saturday) we played real good in the first. That’s real positive for us.”

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