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Petersen posts shutout, boosts team over BU

| Monday, February 29, 2016

Cal Petersen has started every game for No. 10 Notre Dame this season, allowing just 2.08 goals per game and posting a .932 save percentage while leading his team to a 19-8-7 record and a first-round bye in the Hockey East playoffs. The sophomore goalie from Waterloo, Iowa, was also named a Mike Richter Award nominee on Friday, which is awarded annually to college hockey’s top netminder.

Yet for all his outstanding numbers and performances in net this season, there was one achievement that still eluded him this season entering Saturday night: a shutout. Whether it was tough bounces or goals late in the game — like the one Maine scored on him with just 2:49 left in regulation two weekends ago during Notre Dame’s 5-1 victory — Petersen had still been shut out of that column.

He chose the perfect time to buck that trend.

With his team on a three-game losing streak and the third seed in the Hockey East playoffs on the line entering its series finale with No. 9 Boston University, Petersen turned away all 39 shots he faced to lead Notre Dame to a crucial 1-0 victory Saturday night at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Irish sophomore goalie Cal Petersen hugs the post during Notre Dame’s 3-2 loss to Boston University on Friday night at Compton Family Ice Arena. Petersen notched a 39-save shutout in Saturday’s 1-0 victory.Kelly Vaughn | The Observer
Irish sophomore goalie Cal Petersen hugs the post during Notre Dame’s 3-2 loss to Boston University on Friday night at Compton Family Ice Arena. Petersen notched a 39-save shutout in Saturday’s 1-0 victory.

“Finally,” Petersen said, laughing as he settled into his chair for postgame availability.

As important as the shutout was to him, Peterson said it was even more meaningful for the team’s momentum heading into the postseason: Notre Dame (19-8-7, 15-5-2 Hockey East) had lost three straight contests to top-tier teams after being swept on the road by No. 5 Providence two weekends ago and dropping a 3-2 decision in Friday night’s contest with the Terriers (18-9-5, 12-6-4).

“It really helps morale [entering the playoffs with a win],” Petersen said. “We’ve played pretty well, at least the effort’s been there. … The last couple games it was more or less a couple bounces here, a couple bounces there and little minor breakdowns that unfortunately ended up in our net. And I think that was kind of frustrating because we felt like we were playing good games.

“ … To get another top-10 win, which have been kind of hard to come by, is fantastic.”

“I had told the guys this morning, ‘We may have to win 1-0,’ and obviously Cal was listening,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said. “He was phenomenal. He played extremely well and obviously saved the game at the end.

“ … That was his best game of the season, certainly.”

Petersen’s best save Saturday night came with just under five minutes remaining in the game and the Terriers flying around the Irish zone. Notre Dame’s defense lost track of BU senior forward Danny O’Regan at the far post, leaving him wide open just a few feet from the Irish net. A Terrier defenseman found O’Regan with a pass from the opposite point, and he had time and space to cut to the middle of the ice, alone and in front of Petersen.

“I saw that he was over there, and he was kind of uncovered,” Petersen said. “When the guy made the pass over there, I was able to kind of figure that [O’Regan] was going to try to go back the other way went I went over, so I was able to catch my edge when I slid over and [was] able to push back against the grain.

“But look, I mean, it was kind of an educated guess there that he didn’t try and shoot right away, but I knew he was probably going to try to pull it back to the center of the net where he had more ice, and I was just lucky to get a pad on it.”

“He’s an elite goalie.”

The craziness was far from over after Petersen’s stonewalling of O’Regan though, as the Terriers pounded shots towards the Irish net in search of the equalizer. Notre Dame blocked four shots in the final 1:30 after BU pulled senior goalie Sean Maguire for an extra attacker, and the one puck that made it past the Irish shot blockers was turned away by Petersen, who emphatically gloved the shot through traffic by BU freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy with just 1.5 seconds remaining.

“I think this was the most important game of the year, from a confidence perspective but also knowing how we’re going to have to play in the playoffs,” Jackson said. “Keep the game small, not try to do too much, not over extend ourselves. … Just making smart puck decisions and making sure that we do a good job coming back helping out in our own end.

“And you win in the playoffs with special teams and goaltending. That’s what we had tonight.”

In addition to killing off all three BU power-play chances Saturday night, Notre Dame capitalized on its own: Irish freshman left wing Dylan Malmquist registered the lone tally in Saturday night’s game on the power play, as his centering feed to senior center Thomas DiPauli in front of the Terrier net hit Maguire’s stick and pads and somehow trickled its way across the goal line with just over eight minutes left in the second period.

It was Malmquist’s 11th goal of the season, which leads all Irish freshman skaters and puts him one behind DiPauli, who leads the team.

DiPauli and senior left wings Mario Lucia and Sam Herr, along with backup goalie Nick Stasack, defenseman Andy Ryan and center and two-year team captain Steven Fogarty, were all honored before Saturday’s contest as part of the team’s Senior Night. The festivities also included a rendition of the national anthem by Jim Cornelison, the regular anthem singer for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.

Fogarty scored on a rebound with 1:32 remaining Friday night to bring Notre Dame within a goal in the closing seconds, but the Irish were unable to find the equalizer, falling to the Terriers, 3-2, in the first game of the weekend series. Irish sophomore center Connor Hurley buried a power play goal in the closing seconds of the first period to tie the game, 1-1, but goals by Terrier senior forward Mike Moran and McAvoy were too much for the Irish to overcome.

With Saturday night’s victory, Notre Dame clinched the third seed in the Hockey East playoffs and has a bye during the first round next weekend. Notre Dame then hosts the winner of Northeastern and Maine the following weekend for a best-of-three series, and the winner advances to the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden in Boston.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A History graduate, Zach spent all four of his years on campus as a resident of Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Hockey, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus. You can contact him in his post-graduation travels and job search at [email protected]

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