Lowell, Mass. -- Stephen Buco's power play goal late in the first period held up as the game-winning goal as UMass-Lowell shut out Notre Dame, 1-0, on Friday night in front of a packed house at Tsongas Arena.
With Notre Dame captain Jeff Costello in the box for cross-checking the River Hawks took advantage. Adam Chapie moved the puck down to the circle from the point to Ryan McGrath who dished the puck down low. Buco put his stick out and was able to backhand it past Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays.
"Adam Chapie made a nice play coming into the zone and slowing up. He made a nice pass over to Ryan McGrath and he gave a little touch pass down to me. I just had to finish off the play," said Buco of his third goal of the season.
The real story of the game was Connor Hellebuyck who stopped all 40 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season and fourth of his career. The Winnipeg Jets prospect was quick to credit his teammates in front of him for sacrificing their bodies and being tenacious on the back check.
"I think it comes from the guy's in front of me. When we're paying the price and blocking a lot of shots and getting sticks in lanes the game becomes pretty simple down there. We support each other really well," said Hellebuyck.
When asked about his team's success in close games, Bazin was quick to credit his goaltending tandem. "A lot of that has to do with good goaltending. Both kids have had an opportunity to play in [close games] this year and have stood tall."
"They're perceived to be one of the best defensive teams in the country and they play that way. They have a great goaltender and he played extremely well tonight. They do a good job of defending in front of him," said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson
"We had our share of chances, especially in the third. The difference in the game was they scored on the power play and we didn't."
The game was a physical, tight-checking affair between two defensive-minded clubs. "[Notre Dame] is a real good team. We knew it was going to be a battle. It was playoff-like hockey. We had to bring intensity every shift. It came right down to the wire and lucky we got the two points," said Buco.
"As Stephen mentioned it was a playoff style hockey game. It was close to the very end and we're pleased with the two points," added UMass-Lowell head coach Norm Bazin.
"We knew they were a very good hockey club with good structure and certainly good layering all the way up the ice. We were expecting a good battle. I thought if you were a fan who showed up tonight you got everything you wanted. Maybe a few less goals than you anticipated, but overall it was a good hockey game with lots of shots and opportunities for both teams," said Bazin, the 2013 Spencer Penrose Award winner.
Notre Dame senior goaltender Steven Summerhays continued his impressive play with a 27 save performance. The one goal he gave up was not his fault as Buco slipped behind the defense and had an unimpeded opening at the net.
"He's played well all season long. He's the guy that has to hold us in there when we're breaking down. He's playing with a lot of confidence and is very calm right now," said Jackson of his goaltender.
Notre Dame and UMass-Lowell conclude the series on Saturday at 4 p.m. on NESN. "I think we need to do everything right to recover tonight. I think we have to get a little cold tub, roll out and get some good sleep," said Hellebuyck of preparing for an afternoon game after a night game.
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Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.