Notre Dame closes out nonconference slate, splits with Merrimack over break
Zach Klonsinski | Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Notre Dame finished this season’s nonconference slate over break by welcoming Alaska-Fairbanks and Michigan Tech to Compton Family Ice Arena before jumping back into Hockey East play on the road against Merrimack.
The Irish (13-8-2, 6-4-1 Hockey East) swept the Nanooks (7-14-3, 6-9-3 WCHA) before splitting their series with the Huskies (14-9-5, 11-3-4 WCHA) and Warriors (8-11-3, 2-5-3 Hockey East), respectively.
The Irish jumped out to a quick start against Alaska-Fairbanks on New Year’s Eve as sophomore forward Dylan Malmquist put the Irish ahead just 84 seconds after the opening faceoff.
It was a lead Notre Dame never relinquished as junior goaltender Cal Petersen stopped all 34 shots he faced en route to the 5-0 Irish victory. Freshman forward Cam Morrison and sophomore forward Andrew Oglevie added second period tallies while freshman forward Cal Burke and junior forward Anders Bjork capped the Irish scoring in the third period.
Petersen completed the perfect weekend in net on New Year’s Day by stopping all 21 pucks the Nanooks put on net for his fourth shutout of the season. The Irish offense chipped in with a four-goal second period to power Notre Dame to the sweep, 4-0. Sophomore forward Jack Jenkins and juniors forward Jake Evans, defenseman Jordan Gross and Bjork all found the back of the net for the Irish.
Notre Dame posted its fifth consecutive victory in the series opener against Michigan Tech on Jan. 6. Jenkins netted his second consecutive game-winning goal just over seven minutes into the third period while sophomore forward Joe Wegwerth added an insurance six minutes later on the way to a 3-1 Irish victory.
The Huskies broke Petersen’s 207 minute-long shutout streak — the second-longest in school history — early in the third period, but the Irish captain stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced to earn the win.
Michigan Tech then snapped Notre Dame’s five-game win streak the following evening, using a pair of goals in both the second and third period to pull away for the 4-2 victory. Morrison and sophomore defenseman Bobby Nardella found the back of the net for Notre Dame, but the Huskies outshot the Irish on the evening, 34-25.
With the 3-1 finish over break, Notre Dame wraps up its regular-season nonconference action with a 7-4-1 mark.
Notre Dame jumped back on the plane, back into Hockey East play and back into the win column on Friday with a 2-1 victory over Merrimack. Bjork buried the game-winning goal with just under four minutes remaining in the third period, while Petersen turned away 21 of the 22 shots he faced. Oglevie also found the back of the net for Notre Dame, tying the game in the second period.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said Friday. “It certainly could’ve gone either way, but we scored a big goal at the end, did a good job killing penalties off in the third period [and] did what we had to do.”
The Warriors returned blows Saturday night, powering past the Irish for a 4-2 victory to split the series. Gross and Oglevie found the back of the net for the Irish, but Merrimack junior goaltender Collin Delia stopped the other 35 Irish shots to keep his team out front. Petersen stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced on the other end, with the Warriors adding an empty-net goal to seal the Irish defeat.
Oglevie, who scored in both games for the Irish this past weekend, now is second on the team in goals and points with 11 and 24, respectively. Jackson said Oglevie’s improvement from last season has been crucial to the team’s success this season.
“He’s taken it to another level, which has really given us a little bit more depth,” Jackson said.
Petersen finished the six games over break with a .946 save percentage while allowing just 1.5 goals per game, trends that will be put to the test when Notre Dame hosts Hockey East foe New Hampshire this weekend at Compton Family Ice Arena. The Wildcats currently average 3.59 goals per game — good for seventh nationally — on 30.2 shots per contest.
Puck drop Friday night is slated for 7:35 p.m., while action gets underway Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.