Feb. 19, 2015
COMING TO COMM. AVE:
Notre Dame heads east to Boston this weekend for a stern test on the road at the top team in Hockey East, No. 2/3 Boston University. The Irish lead the all-time series 5-3-1, including a 3-0-0 record last year. The Irish shutout the Terriers twice during the regular season, winning by identical 2-0 scores, and then downed BU, 3-2, in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. All three games were played at Notre Dame. Notre Dame has won each of the last four games overall, also beating BU, 5-2, on Dec. 31, 2011 at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Notre Dame and Boston University first met on Dec. 29, 1970, with the Terriers winning, 7-3, at Boston (Matthews) Arena. The Irish have played one previous game at Agganis Arena, winning, 3-0, on Oct. 20, 2009.
ABOUT THE TERRIERS:
A year after finishing ninth in Hockey East, the Terriers find themselves on top of the conference in no small part due to the play of freshman Jack Eichel, potentially the top pick in the NHL Draft, Eichel leads the nation with both his 31 assists and 47 points on the season. He has also helped boost the play of those around him as Ahti Oksanen leads Hockey East with 19 goals and Danny O’Regan is tied for second with 18. BU is second in the nation, scoring 3.75 goals per game. Matt O’Connor has been steady in the Terrier net, posting a 2.07 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.
For the first time since Dec. 2012, Hockey East has a repeat solo recipient of its Defensive Player of the Week in Cal Petersen. The last player to so much as have shared the award in consecutive weeks was Petersen’s predecessor Steven Summerhayes who won the award on Feb. 17, 2014, and then shared it with Doug Carr of UMass Lowell on Feb. 24, 2014. The last outright winner in consecutive weeks was UMass Lowell’s Connor Hellebuyck (Dec. 10-17, 2012).
Petersen stopped all 38 shots he faced in a 2-0 shutout win over No. 10 Providence College on Friday night, lifting the Irish to victory on an evening when the Friars outshot the Irish 38-19. It was the third shutout of Petersen’s freshman season, the most by a freshman Notre Dame netminder since David Brown also had three in 2003-04.
When the Friars finally cracked Petersen 5:16 into the second period on Saturday night, it snapped a personal shutout streak of 137:53 for Petersen which extended back into the previous weekend’s series at Maine, a performance which also earned Petersen Hockey East’s weekly defensive accolade. Petersen would stop 70 of 73 shots this past weekend against Providence.
Over the past two weekends, Petersen has stopped 113 of the 117 shots he has faced for a .966 save percentage. He has yielded four goals in 204:09 of action for a 1.18 goals against average.
Notre Dame received two votes in this week’s USCHO.com poll and none in the USA Today/U.S. Hockey Magazine rankings. The Terriers are ranked third and second, respectively, in those polls.
RUSSO RUSHES TO THE TOP:
Defenseman Robbie Russo leads all blueliners nationally with 12 goals and is fourth in the nation with his 27 points. The 12 goals are two better than his next closest defensive competitors. Russo’s 12 goals are already the seventh-most for an entire season by a Hockey East defenseman since 2002-03. He has the only hat trick in the country this year for a blueliner and the only one in Hockey East since at least the 2011-12 season.
PLAYING WITH POWER:
Notre Dame’s power play unit sprang to life beginning with the Jan. 10 game against Western Michigan. The Irish scored a power play goal in eight consecutive games from that evening on – its longest streak since opening the 2011 season with a run of eight consecutive games scoring on the power play. The Irish now have at least one power play goal in 10 of its last 11 games. Notre Dame has scored 13 power play goals since the streak began on Jan. 10. Nationally, the 13 goals are the third-most during this span. Only Boston University (15), and Michigan Tech (15) have scored more power play goals since Jan. 10 than Notre Dame. After an 0-for-2 night at Maine on Feb. 7 snapped this run, with one of those attempts lasting just 25 seconds, the Irish went 3-for-6 last weekend against Providence to continue their torrid pace.
CAN’T BEAT PETERSEN:
Freshman goaltender Cal Petersen has been one of the hottest goaltenders in the nation the past two weeks. Petersen has stopped 113 of the 117 shots he has faced since entering the Feb. 6 tie at Maine for a .966 save percentage while recording a 1.18 goals against average over this span. The .966 save percentage ranks second in the nation since Feb. 6 among goalies with at least 100 minutes of action behind just Michigan Tech’s Jamie Phillips (.973). The 1.18 GAA is sixth among goalies who have played at least 100 minutes since Feb. 6 and first in Hockey East.
ON THE PLUS SIDE OF THINGS:
Often paired together, Notre Dame defensemen Jordan Gross and Robbie Russo have a +10 and a +9 rating, respectively, on the 2014-15 season. Gross’ individual +10 mark ties for 24th in Hockey East but, impressively, has come on a team which is only +6 in goal differential on the season. Notre Dame has outscored its foes 95-89 this year. Of the 23 players ahead of Gross, 21 play on either Boston University (+42), Providence College (+25), UMass Lowell (+24) or Boston College (+19) all of which have far more significantly outscored their opponents this year affording its players an easier opportunity to have such lofty plus/minus ratings.
“VENI VIDI VICI” – VINNY:
Vince Hinostroza came to Maine, saw the ice and conquered the score sheet as he picked up three points and the Army ROTC first star of the game accolade in both of Notre Dame’s contests at Maine, Feb. 6-7. Hinostroza set up three goals in the 4-4 tie on Friday night, each of which either tied the game or gave the Irish the lead. It marked his second three-assist game of the year. No Notre Dame skater has had four assists in a game since Stephen Johns against Canisius on Dec. 29, 2010. Saturday night saw Hinostroza score twice and add an assist in Notre Dame’s 5-1 win. Hinostroza continued this run on Feb. 13 contributing to both Irish tallies (a goal and an assist), in a 2-0 win over No. 10 Providence. With 26 assists on the year, Hinostroza is third in Hockey East and tied for fifth in the nation. Only Jack Eichel (31) and Evan Rodrigues (29), both of Boston University, can top the Irish sophomore’s 26 helpers within the league.
Vince Hinostroza had an eight-game scoring streak snapped on Feb. 14, one which included five multiple-point games. Hinostroza has accumulated 16 points (four goals and 12 assists) since the streak began at UConn on Jan. 18. Over that span, he ranks second nationally in points, trailing only Boston University’s Evan Rodrigues (20).
LUCIA LIGHTS THE LAMP:
With 18 goals to his credit this winter, Mario Lucia stands in second place in Hockey East, matching Danny O’Regan on Boston University and trailing O’Regan’s Terrier teammate Ahti Oksanen, by one goal. Lucia’s 18 goals tie for eighth in the nation. Lucia’s 18 goals on the year are the most by an Irish skater since Anders Lee’s 2012-13 team-leading sum of 20. With 25 points on his junior campaign, Lucia is tied for 17th in Hockey East.
NOTHING GROSS ABOUT IT:
Freshman defenseman Jordan Gross has made an immediate impact at both ends of the ice. His 23 points on the year (five goals and 18 assists) rank first in the nation among freshman defensemen and sixth in Hockey East among all rookies. Gross’ 18 assists are tied for fifth overall by a freshman of any position. Only Boston University’s Jack Eichel (31), Michigan’s Dylan Larkin (22), Denver’s Danton Heinen (21) and AIC’s Johno May (19), all forwards, have assisted on more goals this year among freshmen. Gross’s 18 assists are four ahead of the next closest freshman blueliners. Gross has done this while maintaining a +10 rating, the best for Notre Dame.
RUSSO NAMED CAPTAIN:
Formalizing a leadership role that senior defenseman Robbie Russo has undertaken all season with his freshman-laden positional group, Notre Dame head hockey coach Jeff Jackson announced on Feb. 12 that the Westmont, Illinois native will serve as a team captain for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. Russo joined team captain Steven Fogarty and alternate captains Sam Herr and Peter Schneider in this new position guiding his peers. “Robbie’s been a leader for our team the whole season and I thought it was time that he got the opportunity to be recognized for that leadership,” Jackson said. “He’s done a great job with our young blue line. He’s had an All-America type of year, but it’s not just based on his performance. It’s based on the fact that he’s taken charge of this team and times, put them on his back at times and shown some character. His attitude has been extremely positive and he’s well-respected in the locker room.”
NINE WAS FINE:
Both Jordan Gross and Mario Lucia posted identical nine-game point scoring streaks which were both snapped on Saturday, Jan. 24 at Northeastern. The identical runs stand as the longest Notre Dame point scoring streaks since Ryan Thang recorded an 11-game streak from Feb. 9 to March 23, 2007. Gross and Lucia both contributed to the scoring on Dec. 5 at UMass and every game afterwards until the second night at Matthews Arena. Lucia had eight goals and three assists for 11 points over the run while Gross had 12 points, coming on three goals and nine assists.
A FUN FEBRUARY TO COME?:
Notre Dame’s on-ice success has varied widely by month but, if the alternating rhythm continues, the 1-0-1 weekend at Maine and split with Providence may be a harbinger of good fortune in February. After starting the season with a 5-2-0 mark in October, the Irish fell on hard times in November, turning in a 1-6-2 record. Notre Dame rebounded to go 3-1-0 in December, but slumped back in January, posting a 2-5-1 record.
Freshman goaltender Cal Petersen recorded his third career shutout on Feb. 13 when he stopped 38 shots in a 2-0 win over No. 10 Providence. He becomes the first Notre Dame freshman goaltender to have three shutouts in his rookie year since David Brown had three in 2003-04. Petersen’s first shutout came on Oct. 25, when he kicked out all 23 shots he faced in a 7-0 win over Niagara. That shutout came in his third career start, as he joined a long line of recent Notre Dame goaltenders to get a shutout in their first three starts. Mike Johnson (2009) and Tom O’Brien (2008) recorded shutouts in their first career starts while Jordan Pearce (2006) and Brown (2003) did it in their second starts. Petersen joins Brad Phillips (2009) who recorded his first career shutout in his third start. For the season, Petersen is now 8-12-2 with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Irish junior left wing Thomas DiPauli (Caldaro, Italy) chipped in a pair of assists in the 7-5 win over Massachusetts on December 5 and, at that early juncture of the season, already had career highs in both assists and points. DiPauli presently has 17 assists and 23 points this season. The speedy forward had just three goals and two assists for five points in 26 games during an injury-filled 2013-14 season. As a freshman, he had his previous best season with five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 41 games. Through 32 games this year, he is fifth on the Notre Dame scoresheet with his 23 points. His 17 assists tie for 12th in Hockey East.
WE’RE VERY SOCIABLE:
Consistent with the ranking of many Notre Dame teams courtesy of its large national fan base, the Irish hockey team’s twitter account (@NDHockey) has the eighth-most followers of any school and the second-most in Hockey East.
MOST FOLLOWED TWITTER ACCOUNTS
1 Minnesota @GopherHockey 49,617
2 Michigan @umichhockey 37,553
3 North Dakota @UNDMHockey 23,954
4 Penn State @PennStateMHKY 17,224
5 Michigan St. @MSU_Hockey 16,243
6 Boston Coll. @BCHockeyNews 15,411
7 Wisconsin @BadgerMHockey 15,329
8 Notre Dame @NDHockey 13,166
9 Miami @MiamiOH_Hockey 11,804
10 Ohio State @OhioState_MHKY 9,342
With the 4-4 overtime tie at Maine (Feb. 7), Notre Dame is now 2-1-4 this season in overtime. The Irish picked up their overtime wins on Nov. 14 with a 3-2 victory at Merrimack and Dec. 28 with a 3-2 win over No. 6 Miami. The overtime win over the Warriors was the first for Notre Dame since March 1, 2014 when the Irish took a 2-1 overtime win at Boston College’s Conte Forum. The first overtime game this season came on Nov. 1 with a 2-2 tie versus Vermont. The other ties were another 2-2 tie, this time versus UMass Lowell on Nov. 21, and a 3-3 tie against UConn (Jan. 16), along with the afore-mentioned split at Maine.
BLOCK THAT SHOT:
Defenseman Andy Ryan (Jr., Brighton, Mich.) leads Notre Dame with 52 blocked shots this season (1.62 per game). The 52 blocks stand tied for 10th among all Hockey East players. He is followed by freshman Luke Ripley (Kitimat, B.C.) who has 47 blocks (1.47 per game in his rookie season. He ranks 15th among Hockey East players.
Throughout his Notre Dame hockey career, senior defenseman Robbie Russo has been encouraged by his coaching staff to shoot the puck. As a senior, the message has sunk in, as the talented defenseman leads the Irish in shots on goal with 96 through the first 32 games. His next closest competitor for the team lead is Vince Hinostroza with 90. Russo had a career-high nine shots on goal in the 5-3 win over Lake Superior State on Oct. 17.