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Notre Dame falls twice in important series

| Monday, February 22, 2016

Notre Dame fell twice to conference rival Providence on the road this weekend, dropping from first to third in the Hockey East standings in the process.

The No. 7 Irish (18-7-7, 14-4-2 Hockey East) blew a two-goal lead Friday night before losing 3-1 Saturday to the No. 5 Friars (23-5-4, 14-3-3).

What had the makings of an important road victory on Friday night turned into a “disappointing” loss, Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said.

“I thought we came out strong,” Jackson said Friday. “I thought we did a great job in the first two periods. They came heavy, but we played sound — at least until the penalties started happening. You wear guys out when guys are playing too many minutes. It starts catching up to you.”

Freshman left wing Dylan Malmquist put the Irish on the board early against Providence on Friday, netting a goal at 5:50 into the first period. Sophomore center Jake Evans extended his team’s lead late in the second period with a goal of his own.

The defending national champion Friars did not give up, though, scoring a pair of goals on sophomore goaltender Cal Petersen late in the third period to force overtime.

Providence senior forward Trevor Mingoia scored the game-winning goal on a rebound following a save by Petersen at 1:23 into the overtime period, lifting the Friars past the Irish.

Then, on Saturday night, Providence and Notre Dame skated to another close finish. The Friars halted an Irish comeback attempt late in the third period when Providence senior forward Kevin Rooney put his team back up by two goals.

Irish senior center Steven Fogarty scored the team’s only goal of the night at the 15:48 mark of the second period, cutting Providence’s lead in half before the third period.

Irish senior captain Steven Fogarty crashes the net during Notre Dame’s 5-1 win over Maine on Feb. 13 at Compton Family Ice Arena.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer
Irish senior captain Steven Fogarty crashes the net during Notre Dame’s 5-1 win over Maine on Feb. 13 at Compton Family Ice Arena.

In the final frame, Notre Dame was able to get 18 shots on net, but Providence junior goaltender Nick Ellis denied them all while guiding his team to victory.

“I felt we played better tonight than we did last night,” Jackson said Saturday. “We could’ve easily cashed it in after the way we lost last night, but our guys came back. I thought they played with a lot of character tonight.”

The Irish will look to get back on track when they return home for a season-ending series against Boston University.

The No. 9 Terriers (18-9-5, 11-5-4), tied for fourth place in Hockey East with UMass Lowell, sit just four points behind the Irish in the standings. Both teams will be fighting for a place in the top four of the final Hockey East rankings in search of a bye in the first round of the conference tournament.

“You never know how the schedule’s going to work out,” Jackson said. “Considering how it worked out, it’s a tough final four games for us. I’ve been noticing that for a while — even though we’re focused on the next game, and that’s all we really need to do. BU is another great team. It’ll be a real challenging game next Friday night, and we just have to prepare for it.”

Notre Dame will return to action at 7:35 p.m. Friday night when the Irish host Boston University at Compton Family Ice Arena.

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