Exhibition opens season for ND
Josh Dulany | Thursday, October 2, 2014
The No. 12 Irish open their season Sunday in an exhibition against Waterloo at Compton Family Ice Arena.
As the season gets underway, all eyes will be on Notre Dame’s large freshman class. With 11 newcomers on the roster, Irish coach Jeff Jackson said he is looking to a few of them for an immediate impact, especially center Connor Hurley and left wing Anders Bjork.
Hurley said he is excited to be at Notre Dame and that the key to having that immediate impact is just maintaining a drive to push himself towards success.
“I’ve always kind of known what Notre Dame is about, and ever since I went on my visit, it’s been just a no-brainer,” Hurley said. “Obviously, I want to come in and be an impact player right away. You’ve got to learn from the upperclassmen, and then it’s just really a matter of being a student of the game and learning every practice, every game and every shift.”Hurley said the key to seeing the level of play he wants starting from the first game is consistency and adjusting to the speed and strength of the college game.
“Coach Jackson has been talking to me about being consistent and coming in as a freshman — you’ve got to be consistent if you want to stay in the lineup,” Hurley said. “I have to have high expectations for myself and come in and do everything I can to make plays and score goals. Definitely, the strength of each guy and the speed of the game in college are adjustments, and so for myself, it’s just been trying to get stronger in the weight room, and I think that will be a big help in my game this year.”
Along with the early-season intrigue that the freshmen bring, the Irish have a tight competition in the net. Sophomore Chad Katunar returns after collecting 52 saves in five games last season. He is competing with freshman goaltender Cal Petersen, who was last year’s USA Hockey goaltender of the year. Jackson said he hopes both of his goalies step up early in the season, and Petersen said he is eager for the opportunity.
“So far, I’m pretty confident and comfortable with how things have gone,” Petersen said. “Obviously, though, the real transition will come as we get into the games. I think with the college game, it’s a shorter schedule, so you have to be more consistent and make sure every game is at the top of my level each time.”
Petersen has competed for starts at other levels before and said he feels prepared for what the season will bring. Petersen said he and Katunar have a healthy, competitive relationship and are hoping that they push each other to benefit the team.
“Whether it’s a game or practice, it’s a tryout in the coaches’ eyes, and I’m going to bring a lot of competitiveness to the table and battle,” Petersen said. “I’m a naturally competitive kid, and I’m going to work as hard as I can each time. Chad and I are both battling, and I think we’re handling it well. We’re both competitive guys, but we’re friends, and he’s supportive. I feel that I can push him with my work ethic and competitiveness, and he can do the same with me. So I see nothing but positives coming out of it.”
The Irish will hope to see some early positives from their goalies and the rest of their young team starting Sunday. The exhibition will be this team’s first game of any kind on the season and serves as a tuneup for two regular-season games the next weekend.
The puck will drop between Notre Dame and Waterloo at 5:05 p.m. Sunday at Compton Family Ice Arena.