Seniors lead team into final regular-season games
Hunter McDaniel | Friday, February 26, 2016
Notre Dame will close out its regular season with a pair of games against Boston University and playoff implications on the line.
The No. 10 Irish (18-7-7, 14-4-2 Hockey East), who currently sit in third place in the conference standings, will host the No. 9 Terriers (18-9-5, 11-5-4) at Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday nights before turning their attention to the postseason.
Though the team lost both of its games last weekend at defending-national champion No. 5 Providence, the Irish could still finish as high as first in Hockey East if they finish strongly. A poor showing this weekend, however, could drop them to fifth and out of the safety of a first-round bye in the conference tournament, which starts next weekend.
According to head coach Jeff Jackson, the trick for the Irish this weekend will be putting their first sweep of the season behind them and instead focusing on what lies ahead.
“They’ve been good [after the losses],” Jackson said. “They’ve been good in practice. It’s just like after we lost to Boston College. You just hope their confidence isn’t affected too much, but we go into another game with a team that’s the same caliber.”
Senior captain center Steven Fogarty, who had a goal and an assist in the two games against Providence a week ago, reiterated this on Wednesday.
“I think we’ve responded pretty well,” Fogarty said. “Obviously any time you get swept it’s not fun, and it was a long ride home. But at the same time, you have to look at the positives from last weekend. I thought we responded pretty well on Saturday. I thought we dominated the majority of the game. At the same time on Friday, we were up two goals on a very good hockey team, so we have to take the positives from that. But you can’t dwell on it too much, you gotta look forward. We got two huge games coming up. There’s still some standings to be figured out too, so BU’s really our only focus right now.”
Beyond the two games against Boston University and the implications those games have for playoff positioning, Saturday night’s game will be senior night for Notre Dame, the last regular season game the six Irish seniors will play together at Compton Family Ice Arena.
“It’s a pretty special night,” Fogarty said. “I remember my senior night in high school. Just being with your best friends that you’ve grown up playing with, having your family there is pretty cool. We’ve been here for four years now. It’s been some of the best years of our lives. It’s gonna be pretty special on Saturday. I remember like it was yesterday when we were freshmen seeing the seniors go down the line. It’s gone by quick, so hopefully we make the most of it.”
In addition to Fogarty, the other seniors to be honored on Saturday will include forwards Mario Lucia, Thomas DiPauli and Sam Herr, defenseman Andy Ryan and goaltender Nick Stasack.
A single point against the Terriers over the weekend will clinch fourth place for Notre Dame, meaning all they need is a win or a tie in either game to achieve one of their season goals and earn a bye in the conference tournament.
“At the beginning of the year, one of our goals was to get a bye first round,” Fogarty said. “We’ve worked hard all year to put ourselves in position to do that.”
The Irish close out their regular season looking to get back on track against Boston University. The puck drops at Compton Family Ice Arena at 7:35 p.m. Friday and at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.