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November 3, 2013

Irish split Hockey East opener

Rallying from two goals down against Vermont helped the second-ranked Notre Dame hockey team salvage a split in its first ever Hockey East series.

First period goals from Robert Polesello and Colin Markison gave the Catamounts that lead Saturday heading into the first intermission before Notre Dame mounted a comeback over the next 40 minutes with three unanswered scores in a 3-2 victory.

“When we were down two goals I thought we were playing much better than being down by two goals,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson told UND.com. “Our guys really put their heads down after the second one that was at the end of the period and came back. We got a real great goal from Stephen Johns in the second to turn the corner for us and get us back in the game.

“This was a big win for us. I was proud of the way they came back in the third period.”

Johns got Notre Dame (6-2-0, 1-1-0 Hockey East) on the board at 2:51 of the second period with his first goal of the season. Bryan Rust and T.J. Tynan assisted. It was the first even strength goal for the Irish since Oct. 25 against Minnesota-Duluth, a span of 164 minutes and 52 seconds.

Sam Herr paved the way for a win in the third period with two goals within about a minute of each other, both coming with less than seven minutes remaining.

Rust assisted Herr on the first at 13:18 and Schneider helped on the second at 14:20.

“The second goal came off the neutral zone forecheck like we’ve been doing all season,” Herr told UND.com. “I came in the middle and the defense coughed up the puck. (Schneider) did a good job of forcing them towards the boards. I saw a little opening on the glove side and the puck beat him there.”

Herr has five goals this season. Last year he had only one point total, an assist, while playing 13 games. He is now second on the team with seven points and leads the way with a plus-5 rating.

Notre Dame carried its 3-2 lead for the rest of the game by limiting shots against goaltender Steven Summerhays, who finished with 26 saves. Summerhays faced just four shots in the third period after seeing 16 in the second.

Scraping out a victory in the second game of the series became even more important after Vermont (2-2-1, 1-1-0 Hockey East) captured the opener.

Mario Puskarich scored a power-play goal at 18:16 of the third period Friday to hand Notre Dame a 2-1 loss. Chris McCarthy scored for the Catamounts at 18:18 of the first period with a short-handed goal from Rust sandwiched in between 49 seconds into the second period.

Summerhays made 17 saves for a total of 43 on the weekend.

Notre Dame finished 0-for-12 on the power play during the series. Vermont had one goal with the man advantage in eight opportunities. Rust put together a three-point weekend with a goal in the series opener and two assists in the second game.

Next up for the Irish is a two-game home series with top-ranked Minnesota.





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