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Hockey

Notre Dame-Boston College rivalry set to continue

| Friday, January 27, 2017

The 15th-ranked Irish travel to No. 13 Boston College this weekend to close out their season series against the Hockey East-rival Eagles on Saturday night.

Notre Dame (14-8-3, 7-4-2 Hockey East) staged a home comeback and claimed a 3-2 win in the first game of the season series Dec. 10. Junior forward Anders Bjork and his two goals led the late Irish surge. Boston College (16-9-2, 11-3-1) blitzed the Irish for two goals in the first period of the last meeting and this time around, Irish head coach Jeff Jackson wants to be prepared from the opening faceoff.

“We played a good game, obviously we had a tough start, but they’ve been picking everybody apart in the first period of games,” Jackson said. “You just have to be prepared to weather the storm early on, because they are a quick starting team. We have to get off to a better start than we did the last time, part of that would be staying out of the penalty box, since both of those goals were power play goals, but other than that I thought we played really well 5-on-5 and then we had that short-handed goal to win the game.”

Irish sophomore defenseman Dennis Gilbert looks to move the puck during Notre Dame’s 2-2 tie in overtime against New Hampshire on Jan. 20.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Irish sophomore defenseman Dennis Gilbert looks to move the puck during Notre Dame’s 2-2 tie in overtime against New Hampshire on Jan. 20.

Notre Dame is also on the road in this contest, and while the Irish are 4-1-0 in their last five games at Conte Forum, Boston College is 7-2-0 at home this year.

“It will be more challenging on the road, we won’t have last change so they’ll get the match-ups that they want. That’s always a factor in the game, and people don’t pay much attention to it but it is a part of it,” Jackson said. “So we just have to make sure that when the guys are on the ice, they have a number of high-skilled guys, they got a solid defense, and they have a really good goalie.”

This game also marks the beginning of Notre Dame’s final stretch in the Hockey East. The Irish still have to play No. 11 Vermont, No. 19 Providence and No. 1 Boston University. But for now, Jackson and his team are focusing on the Eagles.

“We really can’t focus on it, but the fact is that we are playing good teams here for the rest of the way, we don’t have a weak opponent the rest of the way,” he said. “If we can win the next game, every time we say that it’s going to have a positive impact on where we finish, both conference-wise and nationally, so we need to focus on the next game, every next game is going to be as important. … There’s no easy way out of it, we have to take care of business over the next month and a half here.”

Boston College is also one of Notre Dame’s biggest rivals, and for Jackson and his team, this game certainly means more than any other matchup.

“It’s a rivalry-type game, so you get all juiced up for it,” Jackson said. “We’ve had games where we’ve beat them, and there’s been games when they’ve beat us, and sometimes just like three years ago we knocked them out of the playoffs. That stung them, but probably not as much as it stung us to lose to them in the national championship game [in 2008]. There’s certainly a give-and-take with both teams, and I think they’re always good games. They’re always fun games to be involved in, and it’s usually a matter of who’s standing at the end that wins the game.”

Although this season will be Notre Dame’s last in the same conference as Boston College, Jackson said it would not be the last time the Irish play the Eagles.

“It won’t be next year, because it’s too late to be prepared for next year with the last-minute schedule from the Big Ten, and the non-conference games that we already had committed, so it will probably be two years from now that we start back up,” Jackson said. “They like the games too, generally they’re fun games, they’re fast, I’m sure it’s not much different from when they play BU. I mean they’re amped up, we’re amped up, they play good, clean, fast hockey, and we try to do the same.”

The puck will drop Saturday at 7 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

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About Tobias Hoonhout

Toby is a junior PLS/Economics double major from Smithtown, New York.

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