ND takes on rival Boston College at Compton
Brian Plamondon | Friday, February 27, 2015
Notre Dame could be getting hot at just the right time.
Notre Dame (14-15-5, 9-6-5 Hockey East), which is 4-1-2 in its last seven games, will play host to No. 9 Boston College tonight and Saturday in a series that has heavy postseason implications.
After taking three of four possible points from No. 4 Boston University last weekend, the Irish clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the Hockey East tournament. Notre Dame will have to be just as good against Boston College to finish in the top four and earn the first-round bye. The Irish currently sit tied for third in the conference with UMass Lowell and Providence, while the Eagles (19-10-3, 11-6-3) are in second headed into the final weekend of the regular season.
“At least we have a chance to finish in the top four of the conference,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “[But it] doesn’t matter if we don’t win Friday. That’s all that matters.”
Although a strong weekend and a first round bye isn’t necessary for Notre Dame, it would go a long way to improving its chances of making the NCAA tournament. The Irish have, for all intents and purposes, been eliminated from receiving an at-large berth — the only way they could make the tournament would be winning the Hockey East tournament. Thus, getting the bye is two-fold, Jackson said.
“It’s about getting healthy,” Jackson said. “And it’s one less step that we have to have to get to [TD Garden, site of the Hockey East championship weekend]. It’s never easy in this league, and we have to put ourselves in the best possible position to get back to Boston.”
Notre Dame will face a Boston College squad that is coming off an overtime victory over Harvard in the Beanpot Tournament consolation game Monday. The game-winner came courtesy of sophomore forward Ryan Fitzgerald, who leads the team with 14 goals, five of which have been game-winners.
Known to have a potent offense, the Eagles might even be better on defense — three of Boston College’s top seven scorers are defensemen. Boston College’s back end rivals No. 15 Minnesota’s as the best in the country, Jackson said.
“As far as overall talent, there’s probably five guys there that we will see play on TV someday,” Jackson said. “They are that talented on the back end and in goal. I mean, [sophomore Thatcher] Demko is an elite-level goaltender.”
On the season, Demko is 17-9-3 and boasts a 2.23 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. Despite his gaudy numbers though, Demko may not be the best goalie on the ice this weekend.
Irish sophomore Cal Petersen has been dominant for the Irish, going 3-1-1 in his last five games while sporting a .958 save percentage. In this past weekend’s series against Boston University alone, Petersen stopped 78 shots.
“I challenged him going into this stretch run,” Jackson said of Petersen. “He’s elevated his game to a high level and given us a chance to win each and every one of those games. I think with goaltending like that, we’re in a good position to win.”
With the regular season winding down and the success the Irish have had over the past couple weeks, Jackson said he gave the team a day off this week. Now everything will revolve around the team staying sharp.
“It’s really about keeping them mentally engaged,” Jackson said. “They were real good [at practice]. They always are on these weekends when they’re playing a rival.”
The Irish look to finish the regular season strong when they host Boston College at Compton Family Ice Arena this weekend. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Friday and 6:05 p.m. Saturday.