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Petersen carries Notre Dame to split with rival Boston College

| Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It may have been senior night Saturday at Compton Family Ice Arena, but freshman goaltender Cal Petersen’s 55-save performance stole the show as Notre Dame salvaged the weekend with a 3-1 win over No. 9 Boston College after being shut out 2-0 Friday in the first episode of the rivalry series.

Petersen started Saturday’s game with a 22-save first period, and it took until the 40th try for the Eagles (20-11-3, 12-7-3 Hockey East) to score on the Irish freshman.

“That was a pretty amazing performance by Cal tonight,” Irish senior right wing Austin Wuthrich said. “ … At this point, you’re expecting Cal to make the save just because he’s been playing so phenomenal lately.”

The Irish netminder has stopped all but 11 of the last 292 shots he has faced, a streak that stretches over the last six games, all against ranked opponents. Petersen entered the weekend having won three straight Hockey East weekly awards — he took home a pair of Defensive Player of the Week awards before being named last week’s Hockey East Player of the Week.

“It’s kind of just a regular thing now,” Irish sophomore center Vince Hinostroza said about Petersen’s strong goaltending. “The past few weekends, he’s been standing on his head. … It’s great that he’s coming into form now.”

Notre Dame (15-16-5, 10-7-5) took the lead in the game’s opening five minutes when freshman right wing Anders Bjork’s shot from behind the goal line banked off Eagles sophomore goaltender Thatcher Demko and into the net.

The Irish entered the first intermission on their heels. Notre Dame managed just seven shots on goal in the opening stanza to Boston College’s 22, but doubled their advantage 2:13 into the second period when freshman defenseman Jordan Gross wristed one past Demko.

Hinostroza tallied assists on each of Notre Dame’s first two goals, becoming just one of six players in Division I to reach 30 helpers this season.

“I’ve been pleased [with my recent play],” Hinostroza said. “We love helping the team win but we can’t be satisfied. … We have a lot to do still.”

But after Eagles senior left winger Cam Spiro’s goal cut the lead to 2-1 early in the third period, Compton Family Ice Arena had to hold its breath. From that point, the Eagles controlled play as they outshot Notre Dame 56-28 over the course of the game.

Petersen, though, held strong in net, and when Wuthrich scored with 3:25 to play, the home fans could breathe easy.

“At the beginning of the season, a two-goal lead meant nothing for us,” Wuthrich said. “It’s good to see us capitalize and not panic after they score.”

Sophomore left wing Ali Thomas’ shot bounced around in the Eagles crease and eventually off Wuthrich into the net, giving the Irish a two-goal cushion as time wound down.

“Being able to score a goal on this night was pretty special,” Wuthrich said. “But, I mean, [I have to] give all the credit to Ali Thomas; he played great tonight.”

On Friday, it was Eagles goaltender Demko’s night. He recorded a 35-save shutout in a 2-0 Eagles victory.

“I thought [Thatcher] was outstanding [Friday],” Eagles head coach Jerry York said. “ … He made some difficult shots look relatively easy.”

The first period was all that separated the teams Friday as a pair of goals 3:14 apart from Eagles sophomore defenseman Ian McCoshen and Eagles freshman right winger Alex Tuch were the only scores of the night.

“I thought the game was a closely-contested game,” York said. “ … Both goaltenders were very, very strong.”

With the two-point weekend, the Irish secured the fifth seed for the Hockey East tournament, and they will host Massachusetts for an opening-round, best-of-three series this weekend.

The Minutemen finished as the league’s last-place team, and Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said he is weary of his team not competing at a high level in the series.

“You worry about [a letdown] a little bit,” Jackson said. ” … We have to get their focus back right away; I’ve had teams lose on Friday night just because of it.”

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Irish honored seniors left wing Joe Aiken, defenseman Eric Johnson, defenseman Robbie Russo, right wing Peter Schneider and Wuthrich.

“[Getting the win for our seniors] is the most important thing about tonight,” Jackson said. “It’s great that it helps us in the standings, but to me, the most important thing is that they can have the memory of this game.”

Notre Dame honored University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore “Ted” Hesburgh prior to Friday’s game with a video commemoration and moment of silence, and the Irish wore “Fr. Ted” decals on their helmets throughout the weekend.

“I had no idea when I first started here what kind of man we had with us here on campus,” Jackson said. “ … The legacy that he leaves behind is this University.”

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About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.” At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer. A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa. When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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