Notre Dame hockey: Rust's hat trick leads ND rout

Steve Lowe
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND -- Among the leftover bits of partially erased strategy on the dry erase board in Notre Dame's hockey meeting room, there was this colorful acronym: KISS.

As in: Keep it Simple, Stupid.

The fifteenth-ranked Irish did just that Friday night, thanks in big part to the top scoring line of Bryan Rust, T.J. Tynan and Sam Herr. That trio accounted for five goals, including Rust's first collegiate hat trick, in a 7-1 blowout of Alabama Huntsville.

Rust and Tynan each tied career highs with four points, as Tynan finished with a goal and three assists, and Herr one goal and an assist.

"Me, Sammy and Bryan are always saying, 'Keep it simple, keep working hard,'" Tynan said. "Versus a team like Alabama, if you're not doing things right, you're not going to get chances. You've got to work hard and play your system."

Notre Dame (11-8-1) did exactly that, and exactly what it wanted in this one to end a two-game losing streak and earn just its third win in the past seven games. The Irish outshot UAH, 37-18, committed just three penalties, and tied their season high with seven goals.

Freshman goaltender Chad Katunar stopped 16 of 17 shots for his second win of the season, and second against Alabama Huntsville (1-22-0). Katunar's last start was on Nov. 29 in a 5-2 victory over the Chargers.

Rust was the offensive star of this one, picking up his first hat trick since he was 16, playing midget hockey. It looked easy at times for Rust, who continually knifed through Huntsville's defense and was virtually unstoppable with the puck on his stick.

"Since I've been back from (a month-long midseason) break, I've had a lot more confidence with the puck," Rust said. "I've tried to make plays on my own as well as with my linemates."

The Irish got off to a fast start when Robbie Russo scored his fourth goal of the season just 38 seconds into the game on a wrister from the right circle.

Rust made it 2-0 at 10:53 of the first period when he deposited a feed from Tynan into the upper right corner of the goal. Herr scored two minutes later on the power play to give Notre Dame three goals on just six shots on goal to that point.

Katunar wasn't busy much of the night, but made big saves in the second period on a 2-on-1 UAH break, and later when he smothered a rebound just before it slid over his goal line to keep the Chargers off the scoreboard.

"He's making progress," Jackson said of his backup goaltender. "I thought he made some good saves for us.''

Rust got his second of the night halfway through the second period when he walked through the Charger crease, past two defenders, and eased the puck in the net. Tynan made it 5-0 three minutes later with Notre Dame's second power play goal of the night.

The Irish dominated the second period by controlling most of the action, outshooting UAH 18-4, scoring three goals, and staying out of the penalty box.

"When we can roll four lines, which means staying out of the penalty box, our depth shows up," Jackson said. "We played with much better discipline tonight."

Rust picked up the hat trick in the third period when he danced through the Charger defense once more and tossed in his seventh goal of the season and fourth in the last two games. The last Irish hat trick was scored by Anders Lee in the first ever game at Compton Family Ice Arena on Oct. 21, 2011.

"He's had the chances in the first half, but didn't finish," Jackson said of Rust. "He's scoring goals now, so generally those things even out.

"He's played some of his best hockey in the last two games."

Senior third-string goalie Joe Rogers saw some action in the last five minutes, his third career appearance and first of this season. Rogers stopped the only shot he faced.

At Compton Family Ice Arena

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Robbie Russo, 4 (Kevin Lind, David Gerths) 0:38; ND - Bryan Rust, 5 (T.J. Tynan, Sam Herr) 10:53; ND - Herr (Tynan, Rust) PP, 12:58. Shots on goal: ND 8, UAH 7; Penalties: ND 2-4, UAH 2-4.

SECOND PERIOD

ND - Rust, 6 (Shayne Taker) 9:43; ND - Tynan, 5 (Russo, Steven Fogarty) PP, 12:24; ND - Vince Hinostroza, 4 (Mario Lucia) 19:07. Shots: ND 18, UAH 4; Penalties: UAH 1-2, ND 0-0.

THIRD PERIOD

UAH - Matt Salhany, 3 (Brent Fletcher, Graeme Strukoff) 3:48; ND - Rust, 7 (Tynan) 6:25. Shots: ; Penalties: UAH 2-4, ND 1-2.

UAH 0 0 1 - 1; ND 3 3 1 - 7

Shots: ND 37, UAH 18; Saves: UAH 30 (Matt Larose), ND 17 (Chad Katunar 16, Joe Rogers 1); Power plays: ND 2-4, UAH 0-2; Penalties: UAH 5-10, ND 3-6; Attendance: 4,718.