NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Right wing Bryan Rust scored twice, including a penalty shot, while Nick Larson and Anders Lee scored solo goals to lead Notre Dame to a 4-3 win against Bowling Green in Game 2 of the CCHA quarterfinals on Saturday night in front of 4,912 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
The win gives the Irish a series sweep of the Falcons and sends them to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit next weekend for the final CCHA championship tournament.
The Falcons gave Notre Dame all it could handle in the series, losing Friday’s opener 1-0 in overtime before falling by a goal in Game 2. Bryce Williamson led Bowling Green with two goals and an assist while Ben Murphy added the third goal of the game.
The teams traded 66 shots in the game with Notre Dame outshooting the Falcons 34-32. Steven Summerhays stopped 29 shots in the Irish goal while Andrew Hammond had 30 for Bowling Green.
Notre Dame, ranked 12th in both national polls, extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2) since Feb. 17 and is now 23-12-3 on the season. The Falcons saw their season come to an end with a 15-21-5 record.
The Irish finish the season with a 5-1-0 mark against Bowling Green and since the start of the 2005-06 season are now 16-1-1 against the Falcons at home.
Notre Dame scored twice in the first period to build a 2-0 lead.
“I thought we came out really well, put pressure on them and we were moving the puck out of our zone real well,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said.
“They [the Falcons] are a good forechecking team and a good offensive zone team. We did a nice job against them in the early stages of the game and then a couple of penalties changed things in the second period.”
Rust started the scoring at 6:44 when he scored his 14th of the year on the power play as his shot from the left side deflected off a Bowling Green defenseman’s skate and got by Hammond. Lee started the play as he moved the puck from the right boards back to defenseman Robbie Russo, who set up Rust in the slot.
“The puck went back to Russo and he got it to me on the side of the net,” Rust said.
“I was actually trying to go back-door to Anders but the puck hit one of their defensemen and went in.”
The lead increased to 2-0 at 12:45 as Larson got loose on a breakaway for his fourth of the season. Larson’s scoring play started off a faceoff in front of the Notre Dame bench in the neutral zone. David Gerths won a draw to Kevin Nugent who dropped it into the Irish zone to defenseman Sam Calabrese. He found Larson who got behind the Bowling Green defense at the blue line and went in all alone for the goal.
While the Irish got two in the first, Bowling Green returned the favor in the second with a pair of power-play goals to tie the game at 2.
Williamson cut the lead to 2-1 with his first of the game at 6:33 of the middle period. With two Irish defenders playing without sticks, defenseman Ralfs Friebergs found Williamson in the slot and he whipped a shot over Summerhays glove for his 11th of the season.
The Falcons tied the game at 18:42 when Ben Murphy deflected a shot from the point by Friebergs past Summerhays for his sixth of the season.
With Notre Dame on a power play near the midway point of the third, Bowling Green defenseman Jose Delgadillo covered a puck in the crease and the Irish were awarded a penalty shot.
Jackson had the option of going with a 5-on-3 power play or take the penalty shot and he went with his hot hand in Rust and he did not fail as he beat Hammond with a nice backhander over his stick hand at 8:28 to give the Irish the 3-2 lead. The goal was Rust’s 15th of the season and third of the series.
“We could have taken the 5-on-3 or take the shot with someone who was on the ice,” Jackson said.
“I figured Rusty is pretty good and we would still have the power play. I had a couple of candidates to take the shot. I chose him [Rust] because I watch him every Thursday after practice and seen how he has performed in the shootouts.”
“The backhand has been my move,” Rust said. “I have a lot of confidence in it and I knew if I got a good enough first move in that I could pull it back to my backhand and get a good enough shot off.”
Lee built the lead to 4-2 with a power-play goal at 12:05, scoring off a faceoff that he won in the left-wing circle. He drew the puck back to Russo who fired from the point. Lee went to the net and got his stick on the puck, redirecting it past Hammond for his team-best 19th of the season.
The Falcons weren’t done though as they cut the lead to 4-3 just 13 seconds later off a turnover by Summerhays behind his own goal. The Irish netminder lost the puck to Brett Mohler who centered it to Williamson who banged it into an open cage as Summerhays tried to dive back.
With 1:33 left in the game, Notre Dame’s Peter Schneider was called for tripping and the Falcons would get one last chance as they pulled Hammond for a 6-on-4 power play, but Summerhays and the Irish defense were able to kill off the remaining time to preserve the win.
Notre Dame will be returning to Joe Louis Arena for the first time since 2010-11 and will be making the program’s 10th trip to the CCHA tournament.
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be going back to Joe Louis in the final year of the CCHA” Jackson said.
“When I started coaching in the CCHA, playing at “The Joe,” was more important than playing in the NCAA tournament. We were different than basketball where winning the league is secondary to getting to the tournament. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, getting to Detroit was the prize. The NCAA tournament was the gravy.”