The Notre Dame Fighting Irish got another strong performance from junior netminder Steven Summerhays and a balanced offensive attack on the way to a 5-2 win over the Northern Michigan Wildcats in front of 3,143 at the Berry Events Center on Friday night.
Summerhays made 22 saves in the contest and got goals from David Gerths, Austin Wuthrich, Bryan Rust, Peter Schneider and Anders Lee in the regular-season CCHA opener for both teams. Wuthrich and Lee each had an assist for two-point nights.
The Irish have now won two straight and are 4-1-0 overall with a 1-0-0 ledger in the CCHA. The Wildcats fall to 3-2-0 on the year and 0-1-0 in league action,
Ryan Daugherty and Stephan Vigier scored Northern Michigan’s goals in the opening period as the Wildcats jumped out to a 2-1 lead after one period.
The Irish opened the scoring just 1:27 into the first period as Gerths scored his second goal in as many games and second of the young season off an assist from Kevin Nugent.
With puck behind the Wildcat goal, Nugent out battled the Northern defense and came away with the puck, centering it in front to Gerths who was left alone. The junior wasted little time in snapping a quick wrist shot past Northern goaltender Jared Coreau to give the Irish the 1-0 lead.
The score would stay that way until the 14:48 mark when Dougherty tied the game, banging a rebound through Summerhays’ pads from the bottom of the right circle for his third goal of the year. Vigier garnered his first point of the night as his shot from the slot was stopped by the Notre Dame goaltender with the rebound finding its way to Dougherty’s stick.
As time wound down in the opening stanza, Northern Michigan took the lead with just five seconds left in the period as Vigier flipped a rebound between the left post and Summerhays’ blocker for his first goal of the season at 19:55. The goal came off a face off in the left circle that Vigier won back to defenseman C.J. Ludwig. Summerhays stopped Ludwig’s shot but left the rebound where Vigier was able to flip it past the Notre Dame goaltender to make it 2-1.
The Irish evened the score quickly in the second period as Wuthrich beat the Wildcat defense and Coreau on a beautiful effort just 1:30 into the period to make it 2-2.
With the two teams skating four-on-four, the sophomore right wing took a feed from defenseman Sam Calabrese at the Northern blue line and worked his way around a Wildcat forward and defenseman before beating Coreau in close with a backhander over his glove. Defenseman Kevin Lind also picked up a helper on the play.
Less than three minutes later, the Irish took the lead on Rust’s second goal of the season at 4:01. With the puck along the right wing boards, an errant clearing pass by a Northern Michigan defender found its way to Rust’s stick at the top of the right circle. The junior right wing whipped a one-timer at the Wildcat goal, beating Coreau to his stick side to make it a 3-2 game.
Schneider made it 4-2 at 3:51 of the third period with a solo effort as he took a pass from Lee near the Northern Michigan blue line and raced into the Wildcat end, snapping a wrist shot from the right circle past Coreau for his second goal of the season.
Notre Dame continued to apply the pressure throughout the third period as the Irish outshot the Wildcats, 16 to 6 in the third period and 37-24 for the game.
With 1:15 left in the game, Northern Michigan brought Coreau to the bench in favor of a sixth attacker and Notre Dame took advantage, scoring just six seconds later as Lee notched his second goal of the season, taking a pass at the red line and carrying it a few strides before firing into the open net for the 5-2 final score Coreau finished with 32 saves on the night.
Game two of the series will be played at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 27) at the Berry Events Center.