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Fogarty powers Irish to weekend sweep of UMass

| Monday, December 7, 2015

No. 20 Notre Dame took advantage of the opportunity to solidify its place near the top of the Hockey East standings this weekend, as it swept a two-game series against visiting Massachusetts, winning 3-1 Friday and 5-1 Saturday at Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish offense came alive over the course of the two games, alongside two strong showings from sophomore goaltender Cal Petersen.

Both games got off to similar starts, with senior center Steven Fogarty opening the scoring for the Irish in each contest. The Irish captain scored 3:38 into the first period Friday for his fifth goal of the season and added his sixth tally one day later 3:33 into the game.

Senior center Steven Fogarty controls the puck during Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory over Massachusetts on Friday at Compton Family Ice Arena. Fogarty scored one goal in the win. Mackenzi Marinovich | The Observer
Senior center Steven Fogarty controls the puck during Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory over Massachusetts on Friday at Compton Family Ice Arena. Fogarty scored one goal in the win.

The Irish top line had a great deal of success on both ends of the ice throughout the weekend, controlling the pace of play and frequently forcing UMass defensemen into long shifts in their own defensive zone. Irish head coach Jeff Jackson praised the unit following Friday’s game.

“I thought that’s the best this year [the first line] has played,” Jackson said. “I thought they had some really good scoring chances, I thought defensively they did a really good job. That’s encouraging.”

The Irish added goals from sophomore center Dawson Cook and senior left wing Thomas DiPauli to bring their lead to 3-0 on Friday night. Things stayed close late in the game, though, as UMass winger Shane Walsh brought the visiting team within two with a goal four minutes into the third period.

The Irish held their two-score lead for the remainder of the game, despite heavy pressure from the Minutemen. With only a minute and a half to go in the game, freshman defensemen Bobby Nardella took a tripping penalty behind the Irish net. UMass then pulled its goaltender to create a six-on-four advantage in a last-ditch attempt to rally. Still, the Irish were able to hold on and win the game, 3-1.

Jackson said he and his squad respected the visiting team’s ability to come from behind.

“This is a dangerous team,” Jackson said. “They’ve come from behind several times this year, so I knew they were gonna give us a push, and they did.”

After the first game, Fogarty stressed the importance of maintaining the team’s early lead — something the team has struggled to do at times this season.

“I think that’s been a huge focal point for us,” Fogarty said. “We kind of just didn’t think about it, and I think that was a huge factor. When you’re up, you’ve got to play up and take it to them. I think we did a good job of that [Friday].”

The Irish demonstrated that mindset in the second game of the weekend as well. After Massachusetts answered Fogarty’s early goal with a wicked wrister from just inside the circle, the Irish went on to score the final four goals of the game. Though UMass threatened early in the game, outshooting the Irish 13-8 in the first period, Notre Dame controlled much of the remainder of the game, including a third period where the Irish outshot their opponent 17-10.

Jackson lauded the performance of his team following Saturday night’s tilt, affording particular praise for his squad’s third-period play.

“Tonight may have been a more complete, 60-minute game than last night,” Jackson said. “I’m most pleased with the third period tonight. When you go into the third with a lead, you need to play a certain way — you don’t play back, but you have to be prepared for the other guys to play aggressively and play active. Our guys did a god job of it, so that was probably our best third period of the season.”

Hidden somewhat beneath the strong play of the Irish offense were a pair of impressive wins earned by Irish netminder Cal Petersen. Between the two games, Petersen stopped 55 of 57 shots faced, earning him the first star in both games and a considerable amount of postgame praise from his head coach, who called it Petersen’s “best weekend” this year.

The Irish now prepare for a marquee matchup with conference rival No. 2 Boston College. With the holiday season looming, Cal Petersen divulged a portion of his Christmas wish list.

“[I’d like a] win against Boston College,” Petersen said. “Maybe a little Christmas present.”

The Irish return to action Thursday as they travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, for a 7:05 p.m. tilt against Boston College.

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