Wegwerth, Notre Dame seize three points against New Hampshire
Zach Klonsinski | Tuesday, January 24, 2017
No. 15 Notre Dame held one of the nation’s most prolific offenses to just two goals all weekend en route to taking three points from New Hampshire and vaulting to fourth in the Hockey East standings.
The two sides skated to a 2-2 tie during Friday night’s series opener at Compton Family Ice Arena before the Irish (14-8-3, 7-4-2 Hockey East) pulled away late for a 3-0 victory Saturday night.
“[New Hampshire is] hard to score on. Everybody talks about how good they are offensively, but their goaltender had a good weekend,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said following Saturday’s win. “ … Defensively, they’re tough because they create turnovers by the way they play.
“ … It was a good weekend for us.”
Despite Notre Dame finishing with a 48-29 advantage in shots on goal in Friday’s contest, it took a mid-third period tally from sophomore forward Joe Wegwerth for the Irish to draw even with the Wildcats (11-9-4, 6-3-3 Hockey East) and force overtime.
Irish sophomore forward Andrew Oglevie opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game on a feed from junior forward Jake Evans, but the Wildcats used a mid-first period marker to tie the game and then took the lead with a power play tally early in the second.
Wildcats junior goaltender Danny Tirone kept the Irish off the scoreboard until Wegwerth found the equalizer in the third.
Irish junior forward Anders Bjork had the best opportunity to win it in overtime, but Tirone turned away the wrist shot in the game’s final seconds.
Wegwerth’s tally was part of an impressive weekend for Notre Dame’s fourth line of Wegwerth, freshman Mike O’Leary and junior Bo Brauer. The line created opportunities and flipped momentum by causing turnovers with a strong forecheck in Saturday’s action, as well.
“They gave us some good minutes,” Jackson said. “Three big bodies, and they were playing against a line that was smaller and fast, so it was good that they kept the puck in the offensive zone instead of having to chase those guys. But I was pleased with them. I thought all three of those guys played well together tonight.”
Irish freshman forward Felix Holmberg also returned to the ice with the third line this weekend after missing extended time with mononucleosis.
Irish junior net-minder and captain Cal Petersen turned away 57 of the 59 shots he faced last weekend, including all 31 in Saturday night’s victory. The shutout was Petersen’s fifth of the season — which is tied for first in the NCAA this season — and 10th of his career, leaving the junior just three behind former Irish goaltender Steven Summerhays’ school record.
Sophomore forward Dylan Malmquist buried the game’s opening goal late in the first period, stretching to corral a long rebound and twisting a shot through Tirone’s legs to give Notre Dame a lead it never relinquished.
After a scoreless second period, Petersen made a number of stops early in the third, including a big save on New Hampshire senior forward Tyler Kelleher, who entered the weekend tied for the NCAA lead in points.
“The third period we had some decent quality shots, just before they scored that second goal,” New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile said about Saturday’s game. “ … Petersen made a couple big saves, then they came down and scored and kind of put the game away.”
Jackson said he thought the defensive performance in front of Petersen was “pretty good” this weekend.
“They’ve got three lines … so we needed to have good production from the three tops lines as far as being able to play at both ends of the ice,” Jackson said. “That was my point to them before the game, that we’ve got to learn how to be as good without the puck as we are with it. … I thought our puck support was better and I thought we did a better job of coming out of our zone.”
Shortly after Petersen stonewalled Kelleher, freshman defenseman Andrew Peeke doubled the Irish lead on a snapshot that beat Tirone low to the blocker side. Evans added the insurance marker a few minutes later, firing his own rebound up under the crossbar.
“We played well both nights,” Evans said Saturday. “ … Three points against that team is pretty good. They’re a highly offensive team, and we’re pretty happy with three.”
Notre Dame completes its home-and-home season series with a one-game weekend against No. 13 Boston College, which currently sits atop the Hockey East standings six points in front of the Irish. Notre Dame won the teams’ first meeting 3-2 in come-from-behind fashion on Dec. 10 at Compton.
Puck drop Saturday night is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Editor’s Note: Sports writer Tobias Hoonhout contributed to this story.