SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Robert Morris Colonials took a page from Notre Dame’s 2006-07 resume on Sunday afternoon at the Joyce Center, scoring three third-period goals while riding the standout goaltending of senior Joe Tuset to hand the second-ranked Irish a stunning 4-2 loss on home ice.
The Colonials, who were outshot 36-15, made the most of their chances, getting third-period tallies from David Boguslawski, Jason Towsley and Doug Conley to hand Notre Dame its first loss since Nov. 25. Jeff Gilbert also scored for Robert Morris.
“This is the biggest win in program history,” said Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley. “To be able to go into the number-two team in the nation’s building — where they are undefeated — and knock them off is very exciting for our program. I’m very proud and excited for our players. I couldn’t be happier about the way our guys competed. I’m very proud of our team right now.”
The Irish scoring was limited to a pair of power-play goals by Garrett Regan and Ryan Thang in the loss as Notre Dame had 11 power-play chances in the game.
The loss drops the Irish to 17-4-1 on the season while Robert Morris improves to 7-10-1 on the year.
Irish head coach Jeff Jackson didn’t think his team was ready for the Colonials.
“Things probably started going wrong the minute we left Pittsburgh (on Friday night). We just weren’t ready and I take full responsibility for that. It’s the coaches job that the players are prepared to play,” said Jackson. “Obviously I’m disappointed with the way we played. I think we thought we could turn it on at any time and I told them that they were putting themselves in jeopardy of letting something else take over. That’s how these things happen. Robert Morris played hard so give them credit. Their goalie played well, they blocked a lot of shots. It’s a great victory for Robert Morris.”
After a sluggish first period, Notre Dame got on the scoreboard with just 50 seconds left in the opening stanza with a power-play goal. Christian Hanson moved the puck from behind the Notre Dame goal to Mark Van Guilder, who fired a shot from the slot. Tuset made the save, but the rebound went to the right circle where Regan jumped on it and fired the puck past the Colonial goaltender for his eighth of the season at 19:50 mark.
The Irish lead would go to 2-0 at 7:21 of the second period with via another power play. Erik Condra’s shot was stopped by Tuset but Thang managed to get a stick on the loose puck and steer it into the goal for his 11th of the year.
Notre Dame’s offense dried up after that despite getting plenty of chances. Robert Morris would get on the scoreboard at 10:02 when Gilbert redirected a pass from Joel Gasper behind Irish netminder Jordan Pearce, playing in his first game since Oct. 27.
Boguslawski picked up his eighth goal of the season at 5:54 of the final period via the power play as he tucked a rebound behind Pearce to even the score at 2-2.
Less than five minutes later, the Colonials took their first lead of the game as Towsley came off the right-wing circle and directed a pass from Anthony Bonello past Pearce for his fifth goal of the season at 10:10.
The Irish continued to struggle offensively and ended up taking back-to-back penalties late in the third to give Robert Morris a five-on-three power play, and the Colonials took advantage of the opportunity when Doug Conley whipped a rebound from the slot over Pearce’s stick hand at 16:20 for his third goal of the season and a 4-2 lead.
Tuset held the Irish at bay over the final minute as Notre Dame pulled Pearce with 1:50 left in the game. A Colonial penalty gave Notre Dame a six-on-four power play, but the Irish could not score.
For Tuset, the win in goal was the second in a row, as he shut out Merrimack in his last start. Pearce made 11 saves for the Irish.