CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - When you’re playing the three-time NCAA champion of the last five seasons, and the current No. 1 team in the nation on their home ice, the margin for error is slim.
Twenty minutes of uninspired hockey will get you what you deserve.
No. 8 Notre Dame (6-3-0) found that out Friday night on Kelley Rink at Conte Forum as No. 1-rated Boston College (7-1-0) out-shot the Irish 12-2 in the second period -- finding the back of net twice -- en route to a 3-1 victory.
“We slept through the whole period, frankly,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. “We were on our heels and we didn’t have the same energy we did when we started the game. I thought we had a good first and a pretty good third period. But you can’t play 40-minute hockey games and beat a team like this.”
Notre Dame out-shot the Eagles, 9-4, in the first period, but it was a 0-0 game heading into the second when Boston College took advantage of its skills and quickness against Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays.
Pat Mullane scored his fourth goal of the season on a breakaway pass from Patrick Way at the 4:41 mark. The most skilled player on the ice - sophomore Johnny Gaudreau - made in a 2-0 game at 16:30 when he beat Summerhays for his fifth goal of the season.
Notre Dame out-shot the Eagles, 9-6, in the third period, and made it interesting on freshman Thomas DePauli’s goal at the 7:10 mark. But BC goaltender Parker Milner was sharp all night, particularly in the third period, stymieing several point-blank scoring opportunities.
“(Milner) played well,” Jackson said. “He made some really big saves, especially down the stretch. But our guy played pretty well too.”
Gaudreau’s empty-netter with three seconds remaining was the 27th goal of his collegiate career in just his 53rd game.
“The second period has been a problem for us this season,” said Jackson, whose squad has been out-scored 6-1 in the second period in its losses to Minnesota-Duluth, Western Michigan and Boston College. “I don’t know if we lose our edge in the locker room. I take responsibility for that. I’m going to have to have a pump-up talk as we approach the second period. That’s been an issue for us in the three games we’ve lost.
“We were playing tentative, and that’s not how we play. When we’re playing well, we’re playing on our toes, and in the second period, we played tentative. You can’t play the game that way. It’s a read-and-react game. You have to play the game on the ice.”
In some respects, the 2-1 deficit when the Irish pulled Summerhays in the final minute was deceiving. The Eagles epitomize the speed and skill of Hockey East, which Notre Dame will join following the 2012-13 season. The Irish had difficulty keeping up most of the night.
“Any time you play the national champs, it’s always a measuring stick,” Jackson said. “We aspire to play the way they play, but their speed was certainly a factor in everything they do. They put a lot of pressure on you and break you down. They’re a good team, as advertised and as I expected.”
Following their final season in the CCHA, the Irish will join Boston College, Boston University, New Hampshire, Merrimack, Providence, Northeastern, Vermont, Massachusetts, UMass Lowell and Maine in Hockey East. Connecticut will make it a 12-team conference in 2014-15.
“One of the things I look forward to in Hockey East is we’re trying to build a team based on skill and speed,” Jackson said. “It’s still a work in progress in some areas. But I like the style of play in Hockey East.
“It’s not just BC. BU plays an up-tempo game. UNH plays an up-tempo game. Maine, when they’re playing at a high level, is an up-tempo team. There are a lot of teams in that category. For the most part, (Hockey East has) a great style of play, which is what we want to be part of. We’re looking forward to that.”
The game was Notre Dame’s seventh straight against a ranked opponent. The Irish are 4-3-0 during this current stretch. This marked the first time in five tries that Notre Dame has not defeated Boston College when the Eagles were ranked No. 1 at the time of the game. The Irish defeated BC last year on an overtime goal by Bryan Rust with 1.1 seconds remaining. The Eagles defeated the Irish in the 2008 national championship game, 4-1.
The Irish held Boston College’s No. 1-rated power-play unit (10-of-25 coming into the game) without a goal on six opportunities.
Boston College head coach Jerry York picked up his 920th career victory.