Backup goalie St. Cyr boosts Irish with 3-0 shutout of RPI

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — No. 8 Notre Dame got another stellar goaltending performance from another netminder in finishing its weekend hockey sweep of RPI Saturday night.

Sophomore Dylan St. Cyr made 33 saves for his second career shutout, and Cam Morrison’s first-period goal stood up until Colin Theisen and Dylan Malmquist scored late goals that gave the Irish their sixth straight victory, 3-0, before 4,228 at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena.

The victory followed All-American Cale Morris’ 36-save performance in a 5-1 victory over the Engineers. The two wins give coach Jeff Jackson, who is in his 14th season behind the Irish bench, 306 victories at Notre Dame, one shy of tying the late Smith, who headed the modern Irish program for 19 seasons beginning in 1968.

The Irish (10-4-1), second in the Big Ten with 12 points and a 4-2-0-0 mark, return to league action next Friday and Saturday evenings at Penn State before exams and a short holiday break.

Notre Dame comes back after Christmas to play old Hockey East rival Boston College on New Year’s Eve at 5 p.m. on the Smith Rink. Then the Irish take it outside Saturday, Jan. 5 to play Big Ten rival Michigan at 3:30 p.m. on the rink in Notre Dame Stadium where the NHL Winter Classic game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins will be played New Year’s Day afternoon.

RPI (4-8), which got 38 saves from freshman goalie Owen Savory, returns to ECAC Hockey play with road games Friday at Yale and Saturday at Brown.

The son of goaltending parents — his mother Manon Rhéaumeplayed two periods in 1992 and ’93 in exhibitions for the Tampa Bay Lightning — St. Cyr got the start as Jackson decided to rest Morris. Morris, who also had an assist Friday night, lowered his goals-against average to 1.83, including 1.46 in his last 11 games during which he has a 7-4 record.

St. Cyr, whose first collegiate start last season was a 4-0 shutout of Alabama Huntsville, was making his third start of the season. He had 20 saves at Omaha in a 4-1 victory Oct. 19 and then 29 saves in Notre Dame’s 6-2 victory at Michigan which began the current winning streak.

St. Cyr now has a 1.00 goals-against average with a .965 save percentage. He had 16 saves through the first two periods and was really busy in the third, making nine of his 17 stops in the period during the first 10:45.

St. Cyr was tested in the first minute when Todd Burgess got behind the Irish defense on a breakaway. The 5-foot-9 St. Cyr stood his ground and made a left arm-shoulder save, one of nine saves in the period. St. Cyr later denied RPI’s Will Reilly on two close-in shots at the midway point of the period and Burgess’ stuff at 13:00.

Notre Dame outshot RPI in the period, 14-9, and led 1-0 after the first 20 minutes on Morrison’s fourth goal of the season at 4:40. It came after the 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior left wing skated through the faceoff circle and fired a shot along the ice to beat Savory. Freshman right wing Michael Graham and then junior center Mike O’Leary set Morrison up with passes.

The Irish continued their shot dominance in the scoreless second period with a 17-7 advantage. St. Cyr smothered Nick Bowman’s slapshot on a semi-breakaway at 3:38 and then stopped Patrick Polino at the midway point. Savory, meanwhile, denied Alex Steeves at 12:10.

In the third period, St. Cyr denied two shots by Jakub Lacka and one by Ottoville Leppänen during a flurry five minutes into the final period and then smothered Lacka’s faceoff circle blast during an Irish penalty kill in the seventh minute.

With eight minutes to go, it looked like the Engineers had tied it on a 4-on-2 break into the Irish zone. The red light went on but Jake Johnson’s shot hit the pipe.

A little over a minute later, freshman Jake Pivonka dug the puck out from behind the RPI net and slid it to Theisen, who directed it past Savory for a 2-0 lead at 13:36.

Then with the RPI goalie off for a sixth attacker, Matt Hellickson and Cal Burke sent Malmquist in alone on the empty net, which surrendered the final goal at 17:14.