Summerhays finds new confidence

Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays makes a stop during the game at Notre Dame on Saturday, December 31, 2011. (ISR Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)
Irish Sports Report
9:55 pm, January 27, 2012

Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays had a different air about him as
he came into the interview room at the Compton Family Ice Arena
earlier this week.

There was a confidence in his demeanor and even his body language. He
did not act like he was a rare guest any longer but a player that
belonged there.

And with good reason.

Including the Dec. 10, 4-1 win over Ferris State, Summerhays has
started six of the last seven games the Irish have played.

In those games, all against ranked opponents, Summerhays has gone 4-2,
while allowing just 12 goals.

“It’s been a while since I’ve got to play in a streak,” Summerhays
said, citing his time in the USHL where he might be in goal in as many
as four games in a week.

But after going 5-4-1 as a freshmen and playing 12 games, sophomore
Summerhays has already played in as many games this season as he did
last year, carving a 7-3-0 mark with a 2.50 goals-against average and
a .903 saves percentage.

And at long last the Alaska native, is feeling like he belongs.

“I didn’t expect to come in here and play every night,” he said of his
freshman year. “I wanted a chance to earn my spot. And I still think
I’m earning my spot right now.

“I don’t think there’s a certain role me and (junior) Mike Johnson
have right now. I think it’s two guys who can play in net. I think
that’s great, that pushes both of us.

“But at the same time, it’s been good to be able to play and have that
confidence and see the team have confidence in me and the coaching
staff as well.”

From the team rushing to the net at game’s conclusion last Friday at
the Compton Family Ice Arena after a hard-fought 3-1 win over Michigan
to the words of Irish coach Jeff Jackson, it’s clear he has that
support now.

“He’s definitely a part of our good play in the second half,” Jackson
said. “When you’re getting good saves and good goaltending, it gives
your team more confidence to take chances.

“It really helps when you have somebody back there who’s confident.”

But it wasn’t always that way.

The day before Summerhays started a Dec. 10 matchup with Ferris State,
Jackson and Summerhays had a goalie-to-coach conversation, where a lot
was aired out.

“It was in a pregame skate, when he found out he wasn’t playing,”
Jackson said. “His frustration just came out. We had more of a
heart-to-heart. It wasn’t a shouting match.

“But he got a chance to vent a little bit, which they generally don’t
do in front of me, but I’m his goalie coach, too. It was just him and

“Maybe it was good, good for him and me to see that passion from him,
because I keep on pushing him to work a little harder. And he
practiced well after that.”

He also played well the next night, holding Ferris State to one goal,
opening the door for more playing time, Jackson said.

The venting helped, Summerhays said.

“He knew what he had to say to get me going, and I told him how I
felt,” Summerhays said. “I think it’s been positive since then. It’s
obviously helped our relationship.”

And now as the Irish play two games in Summerhays’ home state this
weekend, he confidently has 34 friends and family members coming from
six hours away in Anchorage to Fairbanks for the games.

“I think it will be a good experience for myself,” Summerhays said
heading into Friday’s nights clash. “I moved away when I was 15. My
grandparents have not seen me play. I am excited.

“At the same time I have to go out with the same mind-set for any
other game and not worry about who’s in the stands.”

Tom Lemming


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@hansenndinsider - Eric Hansen, Football Beat Writer

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