Woes at Compton continue for Notre Dame hockey

Steve Lowe Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND -- Missing its best player, Notre Dame’s hockey team appeared rudderless for much of Friday night, and New Hampshire took advantage.

With leading scorer Robbie Russo suspended for the weekend, the Irish fell behind big early on and couldn’t recover in a 5-2 loss to the Wildcats.

The Irish are now winless in their last eight home games (0-5-3) and haven’t recorded a victory at the Compton Family Ice Arena since Oct. 31.

“It wasn’t good enough,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said of his team’s performance. “There are no excuses.”

Matt Willows and Andrew Poturalski each scored two goals for New Hampshire (9-14-2, 4-8-1 Hockey East), while Mario Lucia and Vince Hinostroza scored for the Irish (10-14-3, 5-5-3).

Russo, the country’s top-scoring defenseman with 11 goals and 25 points, was suspended this week by Hockey East for both games this weekend after a two-handed slash late in Notre Dame’s 4-2 loss at Northeastern last Saturday.

Even without Russo, one of the leaders on the power play manning the point, the Irish still managed to score a man-up goal for the sixth straight game. The suddenly-resurgent Irish power play scored twice in the second period and now has eight goals in that span after they had scored just five in the first 21 games of the season.

But those goals didn’t come until the Irish had already fallen into a 4-0 hole.

“It’s on us, nothing the coaching can do,” Lucia said of Notre Dame’s flat start. “Guys just got to get engaged for the game and keep themselves engaged throughout the game. More mental toughness, I think than anything. But you can’t coach it.”

New Hampshire took the lead just over two minutes in when the Irish turned the puck over behind their own net. It eventually found Warren Foegele’s stick out front, and he shoved it under goalie Cal Petersen’s pad, just inside the left goal post.

The start to the second period was a disaster for the Irish. Just over four minutes in, the Wildcats made it 2-0 on a breakaway goal by Poturalski. After Notre Dame’s Steven Fogarty whiffed on a shot between the circles, then fired again into a defender, the puck bounced out of the UNH zone. Austin Wuthrich fell as he tried to recover, leading to the break for Poturalski.

Two minutes later, Willows made it 3-0 with a power play goal. Jackson called his timeout at that point and ripped into his team on the bench, then replaced Petersen with Chad Katunar in goal.

“It was just about the compete level, and the turnovers,” Jackson said. “At that point, you have to do something.”

Katunar didn’t fare much better, as Poturalski netted his second goal of the game to make it 4-0. The Irish finally showed signs of life when Lucia and Hinostroza scored power play goals in the final minute of the second to cut that deficit in half.

“If there were five more minutes in that second period, we probably could have popped one more,” Lucia said.

Instead, the Wildcats got the clincher in the third on Willows’ second of the game with five minutes to play.

“Overall, that was one of the better games we’ve played all season,” said New Hampshire coach Dick Umile. “How we responded in the third period is what I was most pleased with.”

~At Compton Family Ice Arena


UNH - Warren Foegele, 2 (Shane Eiserman, Kyle Smith) 2:13. Shots on goal: UNH 6, ND 5; Penalties: None.


UNH - Andrew Poturalski, 8 (Casey Thrush, Cameron Marks) 4:12; UNH - Matt Willows, 11 (Grayson Downing, Brett Pesce) PP, 6:18; UNH - Poturalski, 9 (Foegele, Eiserman) 12:11; ND - Mario Lucia, 17 (Jordan Gross, Vince Hinostroza) PP, 19:16; ND - Hinostroza, 4 (Thomas DiPauli, Steven Fogarty) PP, 19:58. Shots: UNH 12, ND 12; Penalties: ND 2-4, UNH 2-4.


UNH - Willows, 12 (Downing, Thrush). Shots: ND 9, UNH 9; Penalties: ND 2-4, UNH 2-4.

UNH 1 3 1 - 5

ND 0 2 0 - 2

Shots: UNH 27, ND 26; Saves: UNH 24 (Daniel Tirone), ND 22 (Chad Katunar 14, Cal Petersen 8); Power plays: ND 2-4, UNH 1-4; Penalties: ND 4-8, UNH 4-8; Attendance: 5,188.