Irish sweep two series
Josh Dulany | Monday, October 27, 2014
No. 20 Notre Dame swept two consecutive weekend series to pick up its first four wins of the season.
On Oct. 17 and 18, the Irish (4-2) took down Lake Superior State, 5-3 and 5-1, before dominating Niagara, 6-3 and 7-0, last Friday and Saturday.
Junior center and captain Steven Fogarty and junior left wing Mario Lucia starred for the Irish in their series against Lake Superior State (0-8, 0-4 WCHA). In the 5-3 win, Fogarty tallied two goals and two assists as Notre Dame jumped out to an early two-goal lead and never trailed. The following night, Lucia led the way with a hat trick. Two of his goals came in the third period, and the Irish scored three goals in the final frame to pull away with the 5-1 victory.
Irish coach Jeff Jackson said he was pleased with the offensive surge, the result of better play across the board.
“The offense was strong — we had a number of guys up front step up,” Jackson said. “That came out of just doing a better job of managing the puck. The turnovers for us really dissipated, and that’s always going to help the offense.”
The offensive explosion continued last weekend as the Irish routed Niagara (0-6, 0-2 Atlantic Hockey) by a combined score of 13-3. Junior left wing and alternate captain Sam Herr opened Friday’s game with two quick goals, and the Irish led 4-0 by the end of the first period. Notre Dame gave up three goals on the night, two of which came on Purple Eagles power plays, but the Irish scored two goals in the third period to hang on for the win.
It was Notre Dame’s turn to rule the power play Saturday. The Irish were 3-for-9 on the night when they had an extra man and found the back of the net four more times while outshooting Niagara, 39-23. Sophomore center Vince Hinostroza had one goal and two assists on the night to spearhead the Irish attack.
Jacskon said the Irish are becoming more cohesive as a unit. He complimented especially the play of Hinostroza, Fogarty and freshman center Connor Hurley.
“The good thing is, we are getting a little better each game,” Jackson said. “Steven [Fogarty] played extremely well for us, and really we had strong play across the board. Hinostroza finally found some success offensively, and Hurley really elevated his play as well. We are consistently improving, and that’s what you want to see especially with a young team.”
Jackson said he was also glad to see the power play unit succeed in Saturday’s matchup. The power play has been a point of emphasis for Jackson, as the Irish were 0-for-20 prior to Saturday’s game. Jackson said he hopes Saturday’s success will get the unit on track.
“Consistency is the key,” Jackson said. “We had one good game on the power play, so hopefully that will increase confidence, but we have to keep improving and keep practicing to maintain that success.”
The goalkeeping competition for the Irish continued, as both sophomore Chad Katunar and freshman Cal Petersen played a game in each series. Katunar surrendered three goals in each game and made 51 total saves, and Petersen allowed one goal while collecting 50 saves. Jackson said he was pleased with the performances by both goalies but thought Petersen in particular stepped up.
“I though both played well, but Petersen has started to elevate himself,” Jackson said. “He’s especially been better on the penalty kill where he’s shown excellent rebound control. If Chad can get better at that, we’ll have two very strong options.”
The Irish notched four victories and improved a great deal, but Jackson said Notre Dame will have to continue to raise its level of play as the schedule gets tougher.
The Irish play their first Hockey East games of the season this weekend when No. 13 Vermont visits Compton Family Ice Arena. The following weekend, the Irish head to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota, the country’s top-rated team.
“With conference play starting and us playing some of the top teams in the country, it’s only going to get tougher from here,” Jackson said. “We have to just keep improving our play, take care of the puck and continue getting better each game.”
The Irish and Catamounts face off Friday and Saturday. The puck drops at 8:05 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Compton Family Ice Arena.