Broncos add to Notre Dame's woes

Steve Lowe Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND -- After another uneven performance, frustration continues to mount for Notre Dame’s consistently inconsistent hockey team.

Twice the Irish led Western Michigan Saturday night, and twice they lost those advantages, spoiling what was a strong beginning.

Western Michigan’s Colton Hargrove picked off an Irish pass in their own zone and fired the puck by goaltender Cal Petersen with 1:06 to play to give the Broncos a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.

The Irish (9-11-2) have now lost three straight, and coach Jeff Jackson remains stuck on 399 career coaching victories. His only concern right now, though, is his team’s psyche heading into the remainder of Hockey East play.

“I’m trying to be as positive with them as possible right now, because I’m concerned about confidence at this point,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to be a cheerleader back there.”

Hargrove finished with a goal and an assist, one night after scoring a goal in a 4-2 Western Michigan win over the Irish in Kalamazoo.

DiPauli, Mario Lucia and Vince Hinostroza scored Notre Dame’s goals.

The Irish start was all they could have wanted — a power-play goal by DiPauli six minutes in, just the sixth of the season from a power-play unit ranked dead last in the country.

Hinostroza added to the lead 11 minutes later with a backhander on a burst across the front of the net, and Notre Dame was up 2-0.

Broncos coach Andy Murray took his timeout at that point to fire up his group.

“We had to make a determination there whether we wanted to compete,” Murray said. “I’m never one that has punishment skates, but with the way that we were playing, I indicated to our team that if we weren’t prepared to skate today, we will skate tomorrow.”

The move paid off almost immediately when Justin Kovacs scored 12 seconds later, and Will Kessel knocked in his own rebound on the power play 1:40 after that to tie the game at 2-2 after one period.

“That can’t happen,” DiPauli said of Notre Dame’s penchant for giving up big momentum goals. “I actually have no words for it. That happens over and over, and it’s got to stop.”

Notre Dame regained the lead two minutes into the second period, when Hinostroza’s shot off the post found Lucia’s stick, and he lifted the puck over WMU goalie Lukas Hafner to make it 3-2.

But 7:31 into the second, Notre Dame defenseman Justin Wade was sent off with a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct. The Broncos capitalized with Nolan LaPorte’s game-tying goal, moments after Notre Dame’s Connor Hurley hit a post at the other end of the ice.

“The whole game changed with the five-minute major,” Jackson said. “That’s where the game really turned on us.”

The Irish got four minutes of power-play time to work with in the third period, when Western’s Mike McGee picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct call after being whistled for a cross check. But after looking strong in the first period on the power play, the Irish failed to get a single shot through to Hafner in those four minutes.

DiPauli had the best look during that power play, a point-blank shot right in front of Hafner, but his stick was tied up by a Bronco defenseman, causing the shot to roll wide of the net.

“I’ve got to capitalize on those,” DiPauli said. “We have to realize little things, little details, and improve on those, and not let the frustration get to us. It’s the only way out of this slump we’re in.”

At Compton Family Ice Arena

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Thomas DiPauli, 4 (Mario Lucia, Jordan Gross) PP, 6:13; ND - Vinnie Hinostroza, 3 (DiPauli) 15:04; WMU - Justin Kovacs, 3 (Scott Moldenhauer, Sheldon Dries) 15:16; WMU - Will Kessel, 4 (Taylor Fleming, Frederik Tiffels) PP, 16:56. Shots on goal: ND 12, WMU 9; Penalties: WMU 4-8, ND 2-4.

SECOND PERIOD

ND - Lucia, 13 (Hinostroza, Wuthrich) 2:05; WMU - Nolan LaPorte, 7 (Neal Goff, Colton Hargrove) PP, 10:27. Shots: ND 6, WMU 6; Penalties: ND 2-15, WMU 1-2.

THIRD PERIOD

WMU - Hargrove (unassisted) 18:54. Shots: WMU 9, ND 6; Penalties: WMU 4-8, ND 2-4.

WMU 2 1 1 - 4

ND 2 1 0 - 3

Shots: ND 24, WMU 24; Saves: WMU 21 (Lukas Hafner), ND 20 (Chad Katunar 12, Cal Petersen 8); Power plays: WMU 2-5, ND 1-6; Penalties: ND 6-23, WMU 9-18; Attendance: 4,938.