Hockey East quarterfinals: Notre Dame downs BC 4-2, advances to semis

Matt Dewkett (mrd-photos.com)

In a decisive Game 3, Notre Dame defeated Boston College 3-2, pushing them into the Hockey East semifinals against UMass Lowell.

Chestnut Hill, Mass. -- On a day when Boston held its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame kept their season marching on at Conte Forum.

And yes, there was a little luck for the Irish.

Notre Dame completed the upset of top-seeded Boston College in Game 3 Sunday with a 4-2 at Kelley Rink, advancing to the Hockey East semifinals.

"It was just smart. Good puck decisions makes us a better team," said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson of his team's performance. "That's the name of the game for us; we have to defend when we have to defend, but our transition game is also based on making good plays with the puck."

While Notre Dame got off to good starts in the first two games of the series, it was the Eagles who almost broke through first on Sunday. Quinn Smith took the puck in on the rush, and beat Steven Summerhays, but his shot clanged off the post to keep the game scoreless early.

"It was that type of frustration during the course of the night," said BC head coach Jerry York. "But Notre Dame is a good team, we knew that going into the series, and we've played them four straight times now.

"Two pretty good hockey team battling."

BC would stay on the offensive, and end up getting the game's first tally. Adam Gilmour came on for a line change and intercepted a Notre Dame clearing attempt. With numbers down low, Gilmour fed it over to Kevin Hayes, who potted the puck for a 1-0 BC advantage.

The Eagles would hold that lead until midway through the period when Stephen Johns, who had a huge series for the Irish, tied the score. Johns broke into the Eagles' zone, and threw a backhand shot on Thatcher Demko from a bad angle. The referee signaled "no-goal" on the ice, but after a review, the call was overturned, tying the game at one.

"It was just like Friday night," said Jackson. "You don't want to fall down 2-0 to a team of this caliber, so getting that first goal similar to Friday gives you confidence going into the second period."

The team's would go into the intermission tied, and almost identically to the first, Boston College hit a post early in the second. This time, Austin Cangelosi rang a shot off the crossbar, before a follow-up attempt nearly put the Eagles ahead.

The stroke of luck for Notre Dame turned into an edge on the scoreboard, as Bryan Rust was able to beat Demko a few minutes later. After Notre Dame had an initial shot blocked, Rust followed up and beat a screened Demko from the high slot to make it  2-1 Irish.

"The puck was bouncing everywhere and I just tried to settle it and throw it on net," said Rust. "That's just one of those goals that's big for us to get a 2-1 lead early in the second period, and we kind of just went from there."

Penalties would burn Notre Dame later in the frame, as a too-many-men infraction and a trip by T.J. Tynan put the Irish two skaters down. On the ensuing power play, Bill Arnold had a shot from in close stopped, but Patrick Brown was able to bat home the rebound to tie the score.

Brown appeared to give the Eagles the lead back with the remaining time on a 5-on-4 power play, but a review not only reversed the goal call, but also put Brown in the box, erasing the Eagles' lead in a huge momentum swing.

"The referee said that he called a penalty on Patrick before the goal was scored," said York. "He's got the whistle, he's got the band – his thought was the penalty was called prior to the goal being scored."

With the game still tied, the Irish would reclaim their lead with only 4.2 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Shayne Taker led the rush, before feeding Tyan, who shuffled it to Rust for a tic-tac-toe goal and a 3-2 Notre Dame lead.

"It's very frustrating. The first minute and last minute of games are important for us," said York. "We got kind of caught on the forecheck, and one of our players bounced off their defenseman, and that defenseman joined the rush to make it a 4-on-3.

"The clock didn't run fast enough for me."

The Eagles revved up the pressure in the third, outshooting Notre Dame in the final 20 minutes 14-5. But the Eagles were unable to breakthrough, and the Irish's captain Jeff Costello provided an insurance goal with under two minutes to go to seal the victory.

Notre Dame advances to play UMass Lowell, a team it lost to in both of its meetings this season.

"[UMass Lowell is] obviously a great team. They're a really great defensive team, not much unlike ourselves," said Rust. "They've got a really good goaltender, so they're very comparable to us.

"They're a team that we're going to have to work really hard to get pucks and bodies to the nets; that's going to be our ket and our focus moving forward as well as clean breakouts, and not turning the puck over at the blue line."

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