Two more losses have Irish hockey near a boiling point.
Western Michigan swept Notre Dame this weekend with a 4-2 victory Friday in Kalamazoo followed by a 4-3 win Saturday night at the Compton Family Ice Arena, where the Broncos rallied from a two-goal deficit in the first period as the game-winner came with barely a minute left in the game.
Center Vince Hinostroza vented by breaking a stick, which summed up the locker room’s temperament.
“It’s obviously not great,” said winger Thomas DiPauli. “It’s a devastating loss, obviously. Especially when it’s the same thing that happens over and over every game. Can’t play well then start playing better and better and have the same thing happen over and over again bring us down again. We’ve got to learn from our mistakes.
“No more excuses, I think. Everybody has to take responsibility and that's the only way we can move forward from here on out.”
Notre Dame (9-11-2) built a 2-0 lead Saturday on the strength of first period goals from DiPauli and Hinostroza in the first 15:04.
But 12 seconds after Hinostroza scored, Western Michigan (9-9-2) got one back with a goal from Justin Kovacs. The Broncos tied it up with another goal at 16:57, a power-play marker from Will Kessel.
Mario Lucia gave the Irish a brief 3-2 lead early in the third period before Nolan LaPorte scored on a Western Michigan power play to tie the game up again.
Western took the lead for the final time when Colton Hargrove beat Cal Petersen, who replaced Chad Katunar in goal to begin the third period, with 1:06 left. Hargrove finished with the game-winner and an assist.
“I'm trying to be as positive with them right now as possible because I’m concerned about confidence at this point,” said head coach Jeff Jackson. “I’m just trying to be a cheerleader back there and when I have to get in somebody’s face I do it one-on-one behind the bench. But it’s more about just them responding. They’ve gotta learn how to respond to these situations. That’s part of going through games like (Saturday). We’ve had a number of these type of situations.”
Western Michigan grabbed the first game of the series Friday night with two third period goals.
Hargrove staked the Broncos to a 1-0 lead at 8:33 of the first period only to see Lucia make it 1-1 with just 17 seconds remaining before the first intermission. Jordan Gross gave the Irish a 2-1 lead at 1:27 of the second period.
Almost 15 minutes later Western Michigan scored the first of three consecutive goals.
Matt Stewart made it 2-2 at 16:19 of the second. Kovacs then scored at 4:06 of the third and Willem Nong-Lambert netted his first of the season at 8:11 to make it 4-2.
“It’s frustrating because if we played all 60 minutes like we did the second period, we probably would have won the game (Friday),” Jackson said. “For some reason, again, we’re missing the consistency to be able to do that for the whole game”