New leaders ready to step up as Irish open season against Guelph
Brett O'Connell | Friday, October 9, 2015
The Irish open their 48th season of varsity hockey on Friday as they host the University of Guelph for an exhibition game at 7:35 p.m. at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Following a season in which Notre Dame failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament, the Irish are a year older and hoping to start their third season in the competitive Hockey East conference on a high note.
The Irish finished just outside the top 25 in the first poll of the year, but the team garnered 45 votes in the September 28 poll. Though the game against Guelph on Friday will not affect the team’s standing in the NCAA rankings or in their conference, it will provide an opportunity for the Irish to shake off the rust in a real game setting, senior center and team captain Steven Fogarty said during the team’s media day this past Tuesday.
“It’s been a while since we’ve all been on the ice,” Fogarty said. “We can only go against each other so much in practice.”
Fogarty is joined this year by a strong contingent of new leadership, headlined by a cadre of senior alternate captains. Senior winger Thomas DiPauli, one of those new alternate captains introduced this week, said the veteran core of the squad wasted no time in acclimating the team’s freshmen to their new home — as well as explaining to them the rules that he and his fellow captains had come up with during the long offseason.
“There are some strict rules this year that we came up with that we think are going to help our team win,” DiPauli said. “Hockey’s a long season — you’ve got to have fun, you’ve got to work hard, but you’ve also just got to relax or you’ll drive yourself crazy.”
When asked about specific rules that he and his fellow seniors had come up with, DiPauli said those were team secrets. However, he said that they were necessary.
“They’ll make us a great team,” DiPauli said. “Not just a good team. We’re taking this [leadership] role very seriously.”
If senior left wing and alternate captain Mario Lucia’s own personal goals are any indication, the team overall does indeed have lofty aspirations.
“Just being more consistent — being the same player night in night out, being the best player on the ice,” Lucia said. “Being a leader on my team. Being a guy that coach can rely on.”
Lucia also listed a few more concrete boxes he’d like to check during his senior year.
“I’d like to be an All-American and help my team to a national championship,” Lucia said.
Of course, any road to the national championship will have to be paved from the net out — and though the team hasn’t named an outright starting goaltender yet, eyes will be trained on sophomore Cal Petersen. Petersen won the starting job as a freshman, and is the likely candidate to man the crease for the Irish in the coming season. Petersen said he feels confident heading into his second year.
“A lot with goaltending is experience,” Petersen said. “Once we started winning some games last year, I think everything kind of clicked for the team and we worked off each other, and I think that’s something that we can carry on — having success against very good teams last year.”
So with big ambitions and high hopes across the board, the Irish turn their attention to their first test Friday. Head coach Jeff Jackson said the game is a great opportunity to get some live experience for the squad.
“For us it’s about evaluation,” Jackson said. “We want to evaluate some of the young guys, line combinations, power play combinations, defensemen pairs. It’s a good tune-up for us as far as getting our game legs and hitting someone other than ourselves. Playing Guelph is like playing some of our college teams because they are going to be older and physically more mature.”
The Irish start their season against Guelph on Friday, when the puck drops at 7:35 p.m. at Compton Family Ice Arena.