NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sometimes it’s important to remember wins come in all shapes and sizes.
Sam Herr helped remind the Notre Dame hockey team of that Saturday in a 3-1 victory over Western Michigan, putting home his third goal of the season in the third period to break a 1-1 tie with Western Michigan. He did so right in front of the net. And it wasn’t beautiful.
“We definitely won in a different way (Saturday),” Herr said. “With the whole penalty situation, killing off another major. We probably didn’t execute as well as we wanted to. The first period looked good. The second period kinda tailed off. But that was probably a result of the penalties.
“But yeah, winning the ugly games, finding a way to come back, outworking them in the third period. Maybe not all the plays were pretty. The goal wasn’t pretty. But you get to the net and good things happen.”
Dawson Cook gave the Irish (6-4-4) opened the scoring at 13:23 of the second period.
Another major penalty for Notre Dame, however, opened the door for Western Michigan to strike back. Jake Evans got sent off at 17:48 of the second for checking from behind, putting the Irish on a five-minute penalty kill.
Frederik Tiffels scored at 18:26 to tie the game then came the intermission. Notre Dame killed off the remainder of the penalty to begin the third period.
Herr followed with his goal at 14:55 and Thomas DiPauli made it 3-1 at 19:01. Goaltender Cal Petersen made 31 saves in the win with 13 coming in the second period.
“We did a good job of killing (Saturday),” head coach Jeff Jackson said. “Especially considering Jake is one of our better penalty killers, one of our better face off guys. It seemed like every time we had a penalty one of our killers was in the box.”
Notre Dame settled for third place in the Shillelagh Tournament with the win over Western thanks to a 4-1 loss Friday to No. 8 Harvard, which went on to take the title with a 4-0 victory against RPI on Saturday afternoon.
Harvard knocked Notre Dame into the consolation game Friday with four unanswered goals.
Forward Mario Lucia staked the Irish to a 1-0 lead at 10:30 of the first period with his third goal of the season. Lucia, last season’s leading goal scorer, hadn’t put one into the net since Oct. 17 against Penn State in the second game of the season.
“I felt good,” Lucia said. “I got a chance right away and then I scored. That helps. I hadn’t scored in awhile. That was definitely frustrating for me but I felt like I got the mojo back. Hopefully I can keep that going throughout the rest of the season. I have to play my best because I’ve been just OK the last six to eight games.”
Harvard erased whatever positives Lucia provided less than five minutes later.
Lewis Zerter-Gossage scored his first goal of the season at 15:08 of the first directly off an Irish turnover. Defenseman Bobby Nardella tried to start moving the puck from below the goal line up the ice but passed it directly to Zerter-Gossage, who had a clean look at goal and beat Petersen top shelf to his glove side.
Momentum started to swing from there and the Notre Dame penalties piled up as a result, totaling nine before the game ended. Harvard had eight power plays total.
“Certainly it had a huge impact on the game,” Jackson said. “No question, especially at the end of the second (period). That was probably the turning point.”
Kyle Criscuolo scored consecutive power-play goals — first when the Crimson had a 5-on-3 advantage then again on the ensuing regular power play — at 18:44 and 19:27 of the second, respectively, making it a 3-1 lead for Harvard heading into the second intermission.
Jimmy Vesey added yet another power-play goal at 5:03 of the third to make Harvard 3-for-8 when Notre Dame had at least one man in the penalty box.
Notre Dame put 16 shots on Harvard goaltender Merrick Madsen in the third but couldn’t mount a comeback, even with three power plays in the final 13 minutes. The Irish finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Jackson ended up putting backup goaltender Chad Katunar into the game with about six minutes left and Harvard controlling the action en route to a 4-1 win. Katunar made three saves.
“He hasn't played so I wanted to get him in there to get a feel for the game,” Jackson said. “So when I do give him a start that he’s better prepared for it. Like I said earlier, I probably should’ve done it at UConn a few weeks back but with a 4-1 game that late, I figured it was worth giving him an opportunity to get in there and get a feel for the game.”