SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Senior center Connor Dunlop scored two goals and added two assists and Notre Dame scored three power-play goals to take a 6-3 win over Lake Superior State Saturday night at the Joyce Center.
Dunlop’s second goal of the night snapped a 3-3 tie at 18:27 of the second period to put the Irish ahead to stay at 4-3.
The win gave Notre Dame its longest winning streak of the year at four games and moved the Irish into a three-way tie with Northern Michigan and Western Michigan for fifth place in the CCHA standings. The Irish are now 13-13-6 on the season and 11-10-3 in CCHA play, good for 25 points. Lake Superior is now 5-23-4 overall and 2-21-2 in league play.
Three weeks ago, the Irish were in the midst of an 0-6-3 skid and mired in 10th place. After Saturday’s win, they have a shot to control their own destiny when it comes to home-ice in the CCHA playoffs.
“It feels good to have turned things around over the last two weeks. This was a big four-game stretch for us,” said Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin. “We didn’t play a perfect game, but mistakes will happen. I’d love for us to eliminate the miscues. We played with poise tonight and took care of the little details that we have to do to win.”
The Irish will face Western Michigan next weekend in a home-and-home series and then close out the regular season the following weekend with two games at Northern Michigan.
Things didn’t start out to well for the Irish as the Lakers jumped on the scoreboard first. Defenseman Ren Fauci blasted a slapshot past goaltender Morgan Cey from the left point off a faceoff at 5:57 for a 1-0 lead in a period that saw Notre Dame outshoot LSSU, 19-7.
The Irish finally got on the board in the second period with Dunlop getting his first of the night at 1:16 off a scramble in front. Defenseman Tom Galvin carried the puck down the right wing boards and threw it in front of the net. Dunlop’s first bid rolled off his stick and Rob Globke redirected the puck on goal. Laker goaltender Terry Denike made that stop, but Dunlop grabbed the rebound and flipped it over Denike for his fourth goal of the year.
“I don’t think I did anything different tonight than I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. Tonight I got some bounces and the puck went in the net.,” said Dunlop. “Personally it’s nice to contribute and for the team it was nice to get our fourth in a row to set up the last four games of the season.”
Poulin was happy to see his senior center have a big night for the Irish.
“We need Connor Dunlop down the stretch. He had a big game tonight. He made a great pass to Lebda on what was a big goal for us in the third period. When he scores for us, that makes him even more dangerous as a passer,” said Poulin.
Freshman Matt Amado gave the Irish a 2-1 lead with some hard work in front. After winning a face off to the right of Denike back to defenseman Neil Komadoski, Amado outmuscled a Laker defenseman to the goal, arriving just as the rebound of Komadoski’s shot came in front. Amado stuffed it home at 8:55 of the second for his third of the season.
Fauci scored his second goal of the game and third of the season to even the game at 2-2 via the power play at 10:41 for Lake Superior.
The Irish got their first power-play goal at 14:29 as John Wroblewski rammed Amado’s rebound past Denike for his 15th goal of the season and eighth on the power play for a 3-2 lead.
A costly Irish turnover turned into a Lake Superior goal at 16:21 of the second period to tie the game at 3-3. Tom Galvin’s clearing pass was intercepted by defenseman Kory Scoran who drilled a slapshot past Cey for his second goal of the season.
Before the second period ended, the Irish were able to take the lead for good thanks to Dunlop. On the power play, Dunlop was able to corral the rebound of a Jake Wiegand shot and tuck it under the cross bar over Denike at 18:27.
Brett Lebda would seal the deal with his sixth goal of the season at 14:20 of the third as Dunlop found him all alone coming over the blue line. The junior defenseman blew a shot from between the circles past Denike for the 5-3 lead.
“Yan [Stastny] made a great play in the neutral zone to get me the puck,” said Dunlop. “I just went deep and everyone crashed the net. Brett came late and had a wide-open shot from the slot and just buried it.”
Michael Chin closed the scoring for the Irish at 18:15 when he scored into an open net for his fourth of the season.
For the game, the Irish poured a season-high 56 shots on the Laker goal while LSSU had 31 on Cey. Denike finished the night with 50 saves while Cey had 28 for his fourth straight win.