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CCHA Quarterfinal Reflections

Mar 19, 2013, 4:52 PM EDT

As I sat in the living room of my cozy Buffalo home last Friday evening, surrounded by old friends who I had not seen in months, I found it difficult to perform my duties as a host while receiving live updates of the Notre Dame-Bowling Green CCHA playoff matchup. It became especially difficult when I got the news that the game was headed to overtime; don’t get me wrong, I could not have been happier to see my lifelong friends, but a part of me ardently desired to be back in my seat in the press box of the Compton just above center ice. It should probably come as no surprise that my celebratory fist pump upon receiving the game-winning notification was less than concealed, and was accompanied by some questioning looks and raised eyebrows from friends sitting adjacent to me. It mattered little to me—the Fighting Irish were one step closer to going to “The Joe” for the CCHA semifinals. The Irish would eventually realize this goal when they won the second game, and the series, against Bowling Green the following Saturday night. The weekend was defined by some spectacular play from standout players on both sides of the ice:

  • Brian Rust was Andrew Hammond’s bane. Of the five goals Bowling Green goaltender Andrew Hammond let in this weekend, three came from the blade of Brian Rust’s stick (two of which were his backhand). Hammond was arguably one of the most impacting players on the ice in Friday night’s tilt. He stopped 35 of 36 shots and was just barely outmatched by Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays who stopped 22 of 22 for the shutout. Rust managed to score the OT winner Friday night, and then got on the score sheet twice Saturday night with a shot from the high slot and on penalty shot. Rust was a leader this weekend—he stepped up big time. The Fighting Irish will need more of this, especially as they progress into later rounds of the conference playoffs.
  • Summerhays is back. It had seemed for a little while that Steven Summerhays was off his game. He came out on fire at the beginning of the season, but seemed to lose a bit of that flare during the second half of the season. Whatever he lost, he sure found it this weekend. His save with a minute and a half left in the second period of Saturday night’s match was one of the best of the season. Stopping BGSU winger Brent Tate, Summerhays reached out and gloved the puck just as it was about to cross the goal-line. It was a momentous save which allowed the Irish to retain a 2-1 lead heading into the third period—the type of save which can define a season.

The Irish are set to take on Ohio State next weekend at the Joe Louis Arena in a CCHA semifinal matchup. The Irish are on a six-game undefeated streak and hope to continue this trend into the weekend.  The Irish Icers have a 2-0 lead in the season series against the Buckeyes, but had to battle their way to a shootout last time they played. It will be an action packed and exciting series and I look forward to more victorious text message notifications.

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