Third-period flurry pushes Notre Dame hockey past Maine

Steve Lowe
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — Playoff mode has officially begun for Thomas DiPauli and the Notre Dame hockey team.

Tied for first place in Hockey East with three weeks left in the regular season, the eighth-ranked Irish are fighting for every league point they can get, and despite what turned out to be a lopsided final score Friday night, they had to battle Maine to the end.

DiPauli scored a pair of goals, Mario Lucia had a goal and an assist, and freshman Jack Jenkins scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period of a hard-fought 4-1 win over Maine.

Jenkins played on the third scoring line in place of injured regular Andrew Oglevie, and the rookie right winger made the most of his chance, breaking a 1-1 deadlock with just over 10 minutes to play.

"That was huge," DiPauli said. "With (Oglevie) out of the lineup, Jenks knew that he had to play a good game, and he did.

"It's always awesome to see a guy like that bury one."

Notre Dame (17-5-7, 13-2-2 Hockey East) improved to 12-1-3 in its last 16 games, while Maine (7-18-6, 4-11-2) is now 2-7-2 in its last 11 contests. The Irish remain tied atop the league standings with Boston College at 28 points each after the Eagles beat Merrimack, 6-3, Friday night.

For the 23rd time in Notre Dame's 29 games, the Irish scored first when DiPauli brought the puck around the Maine net, turned in the right circle and fired a shot that deflected off a Black Bear defender and past goalie Matt Morris, 4:08 into the game.

Maine tied it up on one of the stranger goals of the year, four minutes later. Andrew Tegeler split the Irish defense for a breakaway, but never managed to get a shot off. As Irish goaltender Cal Petersen slid to his right anticipating the shot, the puck slid gently between his legs.

The Irish shook off the fluky goal and kept up the pressure in the second period with another 16 shots on goal, but the score remained knotted, 1-1 heading into the third. Morris made sure of that by stopping a pair of ND shorthanded breakaways early in the second.

"I thought (Morris) played pretty well, that was obvious," said Maine coach Red Gendron. "I think it was clear that Notre Dame was much better in the game."

Morris finished with 39 saves as the Irish outshot Maine, 43-22.

"That was one of those dangerous games," said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. "You're getting shots, but are they dangerous? They kind of bend but don't break."

Maine eventually broke in the third period. With a delayed penalty coming on the Black Bears, Jenkins fired in his second goal of the season at the 9:38 mark to give the Irish the lead.

Then on the ensuing power play, Lucia knocked home a rebound a minute and a half later to make it a 3-1 lead, and DiPauli added an empty-net score with 2:34 to go.

"We came out after the second (period) and talked about not changing anything," DiPauli said. "We were getting scoring chances and outshooting them. We just had to stick with it."

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Thomas DiPauli, 11 (Mario Lucia, Connor Hurley) 4:08; UM - Andrew Tegeler, 2 (Daniel Perez, Cedric LaCroix) 8:05. Shots on goal: ND 15, UM 7; Penalties: ND 1-2, UM 1-2.

SECOND PERIOD

No scoring. Shots: ND 16, UM 6; Penalties: ND 1-2, UM 1-2.

THIRD PERIOD

ND - Jack Jenkins, 2 (Jake Evans, Sam Herr) 9:38; ND - Lucia, 10 (Anders Bjork, Jordan Gross) PP, 11:07; ND - DiPauli, 12 (unassisted) EN, 17:26. Shots: ND 12, UM 9; Penalties: UM 3-6, ND 0-0.

UM 1 0 0 - 1

ND 1 0 3 - 4

Shots: ND 43, UM 22; Saves: UM 39 (Matt Morris), ND 21 (Cal Petersen); Power plays: ND 1-5, UM 0-2; Penalties: UM 5-10, ND 2-4; Attendance: 5,022.

Notre Dame wing Thomas DiPauli reacts to scoring a goal during hockey action between Maine and Notre Dame Friday Feb. 12, 2016 in South Bend, Ind. (Photo courtesy of Joe Raymond)