KANSAS CITY, Mo. — University of Notre Dame junior center T.J. Tynan’s goal early in the third period gave the Fighting Irish a 1-0 win over the University of Maine men’s hockey team in their Ice Breaker Tournament semifinal at the Sprint Center Friday night.
Fourteenth-ranked Notre Dame, 1-0, faces off against the winner of the Nebraska-Omaha/Army game in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game.
Twentieth-ranked Maine, 0-2, takes on the loser in the 4:30 consolation game.
Notre Dame was picked to win the CCHA title in the coaches’ preseason poll.
Tynan, Notre Dame’s leading scorer in his first two seasons, scored 2:59 into third period off a scramble in front.
Bryan Rust circled the Maine net and tried to stuff home a backhander that Maine goalie Dan Sullivan kicked out with his pad.
Tynan flipped the rebound on net and Sullivan also made that save with his right skate before Tynan gained custody of his own rebound and swatted the puck through Sullivan’s pads.
“It was a good play,” said Sullivan. “They did a great job crashing the net. There was a one-timer and I got my right toe on it. Then the puck went back to my left and (Tynan) stuffed it in. It trickled in somehow.”
Steven Summerhays finished with 22 saves for the Irish including a phenomenal stick save off Maine’s Joey Diamond in the second period.
A shot from the point was saved by Summerhays but the rebound glanced across the net front to Diamond.
Diamond had the exposed net facing him but the desperate Summerhays flashed out his goal stick and made the save.
“The puck rolled on me. There was nothing I could do about it. He made a great save,” said Diamond.
Sullivan was the busier of the two goalies and finished with 33 saves, including a number of gems.
Sullivan scrambled from the near post to the far post to rob Mike Voran, who was set up perfectly by David Gerths off a two-on-one in the second period.
“(Sullivan) stood on his head. He’s the main reason we only lost 1-0,” said senior right wing and tri-captain Diamond. “We didn’t play hard enough in front of him. He deserved a better fate.
“We were tentative in the first period and that’s one of the reasons we didn’t score tonight,” added Diamond.
Notre Dame dominated the first two periods and had a decided edge in offensive-zone possession.
But Sullivan kept them off the scoreboard, saving all 22 shots he faced.
Maine mustered just 12 shots through two periods.
The Black Bears played better in the third period but Summerhays came up with 10 saves including one on Mark Anthoine’s wrister from the left circle and a couple off Adam Shemansky’s tight-angle shots on the power play.
“We lacked assertiveness and confidence with the puck,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “We have to develop more offense. We lost some key players but there’s no excuse. Sullivan was great. He kept us in it.”
Whitehead thought freshmen all played well and that the team played better as the game went along.
“That’s a good sign,” said Sullivan. “We were able to sustain some pressure in their end (in the third period).”
Whitehead and Sullivan also thought the penalty-killing was exceptional.
Sullivan felt he played pretty well but credited his teammates for their defensive effort.
“What I really like about this team is they’re even more focused on defense and getting back to help out (than previous teams). They really work hard and put in the effort. We just have to come back tomorrow and play with more urgency and confidence in ourselves,” added Sullivan.
He called Notre Dame a great team and said he thought Summerhays “played extremely well. He got the shutout he deserved. He made some huge saves and the played squeaky clean on defense.”
Maine went 0-for-4 on the power play while Notre Dame went 0-for-5.
Whitehead said senior center Kyle Beattie suffered a mild concussion and sophomore right wing Andrew Cerretani re-sprained his ankle and both will be sidelined Saturday.
Billy Norman, who played defense on Friday, and freshman Will Merchant will take their spots up front and sophomore Jake Rutt will be inserted on defense. Freshman Matt Morris may start in place of Sullivan in goal said Whitehead.