Vince Hinostroza

Mario Lucia

NCAA on NBCSN: No. 15 Fighting Irish host Alabama-Huntsville

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-8-1) host the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (1-21-0) at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra

There’s quite the juxtaposition of circumstances on display in South Bend this weekend. Notre Dame heads into their two-game set with Alabama-Huntsville ranked 15th in the USCHO.com poll and sit eighth in Hockey East. The ranking is nice, but coach Jeff Jackson would certainly like his team to turn things up in the second half.

The Irish are coming off a thrilling loss to Boston College at Frozen Fenway in Boston last week. Having to contain both Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau for a single game is asking a lot and it was Gaudreau who scored the game-winner midway through the third period.

Notre Dame has other issues, however. They have just two wins in their last seven games and one of those was a 5-2 victory against UAH in the Shillelagh Tournament. Losing to BC and UMass-Lowell is one thing, but splitting a weekend set with UMass before winter break doesn’t look so good. Goalie Steven Summerhays has held strong but they’ll need more from T.J. Tynan and Mario Lucia (pictured) if they’re going to storm into the Hockey East playoffs.

Saturday night’s game between these same teams will be streamed on NBC Live Extra on NBCSports.com at 7 p.m. ET.

The Chargers, however, have had a rough go of it in their first season in the WCHA. They have the worst record in college hockey and their lone win came on the road at Bowling Green in overtime. UAH’s top scorer is freshman Matt Salhany with seven points. Their top goal man is sophomore forward Chad Brears with four.

As a team they’ve scored just 22 goals this season. Yes, they’re averaging exactly one goal per game. Ouch.

While goals have been hard to come by, goaltending has been a struggle as well as they split time between a pair of freshmen, Carmine Guerriero and Matt Larose. For first-year coach Mike Corbett, accommodating to life in Alabama has been a struggle. It sure beats having the program being on the brink of being eliminated though.

NHL Draftees

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostroza (FR – Blackhawks), T.J. Tynan (SR – Blue Jackets), Austin Wuthrich (JR – Capitals), Bryan Rust (SR – Penguins), Jeff Costello (SR – Senators), Mario Lucia (SO – Wild), Steven Fogarty (SO – Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (SO – Capitals).

Defense: Robbie Russo (JR -Islanders), Stephen Johns (SR – Blackhawks), Kevin Lind (SR – Ducks)

Alabama-Huntsville — None

NCAA on NBCSN: No. 4 Notre Dame hosts Merrimack

Notre Dame

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the Merrimack Warriors at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish came out of last weekend with a split against the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers and now they’ll turn their attention to Hockey East conference play when they face Merrimack this weekend.

Both teams are early on in the conference schedule with the Irish being 1-1-0 and the Warriors sitting at 0-2-0. Things haven’t gone as well for Merrimack outside the conference either as they’re 3-5-0 there.

Merrimack started off their Hockey East schedule last weekend being swept by a very tough Providence College team. If they’re going to avoid an even tougher start in conference play, they’ll have a pair of players to count on.

Saturday night’s game between these same teams will be streamed on NBC Live Extra on NBCSports.com at 7 p.m. ET.

Senior forward Mike Collins and junior defenseman Dan Kolomatis have led the way in scoring with Collins leading the team with nine points. Kolomatis’ seven points from the blue line are encouraging, but they need more if they’re going to compete in conference. Freshman forward Chris LeBlanc is an Ottawa Senators draft pick (sixth-round 2013) and is off to a quiet start with a goal and two assists.

Where it counts for the Warriors is how they break things up in goal. Senior Sam Marrotta and junior Rasmus Tirronen have split starts this season with Marrotta having a slight 5-4 edge in games played. Tirronen has slightly better numbers, although his save percentage is a bit better than Marrotta’s. Both guys could see time against the Irish this weekend.

Speaking of the home team, freshman Vince Hinostroza (Chicago) and sophomore Mario Lucia (Minnesota) had strong weekends against the Gophers. Hinostroza had three assists in the two games and Lucia had two goals and an assist in Saturday’s 5-4 loss. Factor in defenseman Stephen Johns’ goal and two assists on the weekend and that makes for a strong performance all around.

Hinostroza’s week was so good he was named Hockey East rookie of the week. That’ll look good on the resume.

Update (12:50 p.m. ET): You can forget all the talk about Hinostroza, he’ll be out with a knee injury.

The Irish will have to hope senior goalie Steven Summerhays can bounce back strong form Saturday’s tough overtime defeat. He played outstanding last Friday stopping 31 shots in the Irish’s 4-1 win, however. This season, however, he’s been quite good (7-2-0 .928 SV% 1.81 GAA). With how Merrimack’s offense has struggled, if the Fighting Irish can solve their two-headed goalie attack, things should turn out well.

NHL Draftees

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostrosza (Chicago), T.J. Tynan (Columbus), Austin Wuthrich (Washington), Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh), Jeff Costello (Ottawa), Mario Lucia (Minnesota), Steven Fogarty (NY Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (Washington).

Defense: Robbie Russo (NY Islanders), Stephen Johns (Chicago), Kevin Lind (Anaheim)

Merrimack — Forward: Chris LeBlanc (Ottawa)