By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the 19th time this season, Notre Dame jumped out to a 1-0 lead and on Saturday night the Irish used that momentum to post a 5-1 win over Merrimack for a weekend sweep at the Compton Family Ice Arena (4,665).
“[The point streak] is a little bit of luck and a lot to do with my linemates making good plays and being in the right spot,” Bjork said after the win on Saturday. “The guys playing well helps a lot so all the credit goes to them. We’re all just focused on winning games, so whatever’s going to help – that’s what we’re going to do.”
In net, Cal Petersen made 16 saves as the Irish defense limited Merrimack to just 17 shots on goal.
With the victory, Notre Dame moved its unbeaten streak to 10 games (7-0-3), dating back to Nov. 28. The streak is the longest active streak in the nation and ties for the sixth longest streak in the Notre Dame record book.
“A lot of things have been going pretty positively for us,” Head Coach Jeff Jackson said. “The thing that’s making me happy is a lot of guys are executing what we’re trying to do. I think it’s leading to scoring chances and leading to goals.”
“Another thing that helps is offensive zone grind time,” Jackson continued. “The best teams we’ve had here have always been good in the offensive zone. We’re starting to show a little bit more patience, and winning faceoffs. Its all about puck possession.”
With the win, the Irish also improved to 12-4-7 on the season and to 8-1-2 in Hockey East play.
After a Merrimack goal midway through the third period made it a 3-1 game, Bjork scored his team-leading ninth of the season just over a minute later and Herr closed out the scoring with just over two minutes to play.
Notre Dame finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while Merrimack was 0-for-2. Collin Delia finished with 40 saves in the Warrior net.
Next weekend, the Irish hit the road for a two-game series at Hockey East foe New Hampshire on Friday, Jan. 22 (7:05 p.m.) and Saturday, Jan. 23 (5:05 p.m.).
— Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead at 5:26 of the first period when Sam Herr forced a Merrimack turnover in front of goaltender Collin Delia and knocked in the loose puck for his sixth goal of the season.
— The Irish took a 2-0 lead at 1:18 of the second period when Bobby Nardella skated in from the point and beat Delia high for the second time in as many nights. He was setup for his first career power-play goal by Anders Bjork and Jake Evans.
— Notre Dame then took a 3-0 lead at 8:07 of the second period when Nardella stole a Merrimack pass in the neutral zone, broke into the offensive zone and sent a cross-crease pass to Mario Lucia at the far post. The senior forward tapped in his second goal of the weekend and the 55th of his Irish career.
— Merrimack got in the board at 9:33 of the third period when Brett Seney scored from the slot off a pass from Mathieu Tibbet to make it 3-1.
— Notre Dame responded right back as Bjork picked the corner of Delia’s net, ringing the puck off the crossbar and in for his team-leading ninth goal of the season at 10:52 of the third period. Jake Evans earned his 17th assist of the season on the play.
— Herr closed out the scoring when, on the rush, he took a pass from Bjork and finished high to Delia’s blocker side for his second of the night, with the second assist going to Evans.
— Notre Dame moved its unbeaten streak to 10 games (7-0-3), its longest unbeaten streak since going 8-0-3 from Oct. 21-Nov. 25, 2011. It ties for the sixth-longest unbeaten streak in program history.
— Notre Dame scored first for the 19th game this season (out of 23 games) and is now 12-2-5 when scoring first. The 19 first goals lead the country.
— Cal Petersen made his 23rd-consecutive start in the Irish goal this season and his 35th in a row dating back to the 2014-15 season.
— With a goal and two assists, Anders Bjork extended his career-long point streak to eight-games (6-7-13).
— Bobby Nardella’s goal in the second period extended his point streak to a career-long five games and he added an assist in the second period (2-7-9) for his fourth multi-point game of the season.
— The Irish improved to 8-0-3 this season when senior Sam Herr notches at least one point. He had a pair of goals on Saturday night for the fifth two-goal game of his career and his 11th-career multi-point game.
— ND —