Oct. 29, 2014
Notre Dame, Indiana –
For the second time in two weeks, the University of Notre Dame will play host to another hockey team, making its first visit to South Bend and the Compton Family Ice Arena. This time, it’s the University of Vermont Catamounts that will take on the Irish, following the Niagara University last weekend. These games take on a bigger importance since they are the open games of the Hockey East schedule for the Irish.
Vermont is off to a fast start as the Catamounts bring a 4-0-0 overall record into the weekend and are already 2-0-0 in Hockey East play. Through the first four games of the season, Vermont has never trailed in a game. The Cats are currently ranked 14th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and 13th in the USCHO.com poll.
Notre Dame can match the four-game winning streak of the Catamounts after home sweeps of Lake Superior State (Oct. 17-18) and Niagara (Oct. 24-25). The Irish are 4-2-0 in the first six games of their eight-game home stand that comes to an end this weekend. They are receiving votes in the USA Today poll and are ranked 20th by USCHO.com.
The two teams have met four times in the all-time series with Notre Dame holding a 2-1-1 edge. Last season, the teams met in Burlington, Vermont, in the first Hockey East weekend for the Irish. Vermont won the opener, 2-1, and Notre Dame bounced back with a 3-2 victory in the second game.
The weekend series begins at 8:05 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31, in a game that will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network. Washington Capital play-by-play man John Walton will call the action and former NHL star Anson Carter will handle the analysis from “Inside the Glass.” Game two of the series is set for 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
RETURN TO HOCKEY EAST PLAY
Notre Dame returns to Hockey East play this weekend after going 9-9-2 in 2013-14, good for 20 points and a share of seventh place with Vermont. The Irish, along with Maine, New Hampshire and Providence, will play their first league games this weekend. A year ago, Notre Dame was 1-1-0 versus the Catamounts. Joining a new conference a year ago, wasn’t as easy as just playing 10 new teams. There was a huge learning curve that the Irish faced in facing those 10 new teams, while those teams only had to face one new team. With a year in Hockey East, head coach Jeff Jackson points out some of the things he and his Notre Dame hockey team learned a year ago.
“I think the big thing that we learned, is a lot of the little things Hockey East teams do well,” said Jackson.
“You can watch all the film you want, but until you play a team, you don’t have a real good understanding of thee things that they do differently than other teams. Last year, everything was new for us, not just the teams but, also the buildings, everything was different. This year, playing Vermont, we have a little better understanding of the personnel, better understanding of how they manage the bench, things like that.”
And what does Jackson expect for this weekend versus the Catamounts?
“It’s going to be a lot more challenging than the last couple of weeks; Vermont is a good team,” says Jackson.
“Our whole conference is good. There are no easy nights any ways. They are off to a real good start, so I expect it to be very challenging. Six periods of hockey against Vermont is going to be a grind. They are a good defensive team with real good goaltending,” says Jackson.
“Vermont has good depth and a good defense. It will be challenging to try to generate a lot offensively even with the success we have had the last couple of weeks. We have to be willing to grind it out to generate offense. We have to be prepared for their style of play.”
Jackson adds, “We are going to see where we are as opposed to when we played Duluth three weeks ago.”
“We will see how much we have improved since that weekend. I look back at that game and see how many flaws we had in our game and some of those flaws have disappeared. We’ll see how we respond to another good team this week.”
Jackson’s players know how important the games are in Hockey East and how important getting off to a good start will be.
“We only play each team twice, so all the games are important,” said team-leading scorer Mario Lucia.
“We learned that last year when we lost some games early in the season and it came back to haunt us at the end. Every game matters and every point matters. We have to win these league games.”
Lucia added, “The younger guys just have to realize that the competition is going to be a lot better this weekend than it has been the last couple of weeks. You have to play fast and do some of the things we were doing last week – moving the puck quick, not turning it over at the blue line and getting pucks to the net – all the things we did well last week. If we can do that this weekend we have a chance to be successful.”
Here’s a look at how the Irish have fared against Hockey East teams all-time and last year:
Team Record (2013-14)Boston College: Irish are 16-19-2 (3-2-0)Boston University: Irish are 5-3-1 (3-0-0)Maine: Irish are 5-2-0 (1-1-0)Massachusetts Irish are 3-4-0 (1-1-0)UMass Lowell: Irish are 0-3-0 (0-3-0)Merrimack: Irish are 4-3-1 (1-0-1)New Hampshire: Irish are 2-6-0 (0-2-0)Northeastern: Irish are 4-6-1 (1-2-0)Providence: Irish are 4-2-1 (1-0-1)Vermont: Irish are 2-1-1 (1-1-0)
THE ITALIAN STALLION
Junior left wing Thomas DiPauli usually has a smile on his face wherever he is. On the ice, off the ice, it doesn’t matter. It’s easy to tell because he is missing a couple of teeth thanks to an errant Minnesota State defenseman’s stick last December when he was playing for the United States World Junior Team in an exhibition game before they left for the World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
That was probably the least of his injuries during the 2013-14 season that saw him miss 14 games due to two shoulder separations and a lung contusion. In 26 games, the pesky forward had just three goals and two assists for five points. He has already surpassed those numbers this season with a goal and five assists for six points in six games.
“It really feels amazing,” said a smiling DiPauli earlier this week.
“Last year was a non-stop battle trying to get healthy. Over the summer, I just cleared my mind and told myself to forget about last season and the mistakes I made. I got 100-percent healthy and am still 100-percent healthy and I feel amazing.
Through the injuries last season, DiPauli also learned a lot about himself.
“I was trying to do too much, trying to fit in and help the team,” explained the native of Caldaro, Italy.
“I separated my shoulder in the fifth game and missed four weeks. I came back too early and separated it again. In the second half, I had the lung contusion. I kept putting myself in dangerous situations and that’s why I got hurt. You have to know your body. You just hurt yourself and hurt the team by coming back too early. You have to be 100-percent because college hockey is pretty intense and if you aren’t 100-percent, a little injury is just going to get worse when you try to play on it.”
“I like where are lines have started to go,” says Jackson.
“The Fogarty line with DiPauli and Bjork has been really good for us. Tommy is playing his best hockey since he’s been here. He’s gotten a little confidence offensively and that is really beneficial to us. I know I can count on him defensively. He’s a good penalty killer and is reliable on the forecheck and the defensive part of the game. It was evident late in the year last year when he finally got healthy that he could take the next step in his game. We moved him up to (T.J.) Tynan’s line in the playoffs and he was really good.”
DiPauli also likes the way he and his linemates have meshed early in the season.
“Steven (Fogarty) and I played together most of freshman year so we have a little bit of chemistry,” says DiPauli.
“Having Bjorky (Anders Bjork) on our line is obviously huge too. He’s a phenomenal player. Foges (Fogarty) is solid in the defensive zone and can make the simple plays and offensively he has good vision. Bjorky and me bring the speed to the line and I think we have formed a good identity.
And what about that gap-toothed grin you always seem to be flashing, Mr. DiPauli?
“I guess I am used to it now,” says DiPauli with a grin.
“People know I never wear the teeth. I’m not self-conscious; I look like a hockey player. I know there are times that you have to look presentable and need the teeth. Over break I went in to have the actual ones done properly. I got a new flipper that looks good. I’ve worn it a couple of times. It pops in and out. Now I am just trying to figure out when to wear them and when not to wear them.”
SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS
After struggling on the power play and the penalty kill in the first five games of the season, both units had big games versus Niagara on Oct. 25.
The power play snapped a zero-for-22 slump, scoring three times in its last seven chances, in the 7-0 win, to finish three-for-nine in the game. The Irish were zero-for-20 in the first five games and then failed to score in the first two chances on Saturday before Vince Hinostroza broke through with the first power-play goal of the season at 14:53 of the first period. From there, Notre Dame was two-for-six over the final two periods, getting two more power-play markers from Steven Fogarty and Jake Evans in the win.
For the season, the Irish are three-for-29 with a 10.3% success rate. On the penalty killing side, Notre Dame surrendered two power-play goals in three chances in the 6-3 win on Oct. 24. That unit bounced back with a seven-for-seven night on Oct. 25. The Irish have killed 21-of-26 opponent power plays for an 80.8% success rate. The penalty killers also scored their first short-handed goal of the season as Anders Bjork scored at 19:15 of the third period for the final goal of the night.
HOCKEY EAST HAPPENINGS
Hockey East teams took three of four games last weekend in the Big Ten/Hockey East challenge as No. 14 Michigan and Michigan State made a road swing through the conference … on Friday night, Michigan took an 8-4 decision at UMass Lowell while Michigan State dropped a 1-0 decision at Boston University … UMass Lowell got back on the winning track on Saturday, taking a 2-1 verdict versus the Spartans while the Terriers were handing the Wolverines a 3-2 loss at Agganis Arena in Boston … Hockey East now has a 16-12 advantage in the challenge with the next games coming Nov. 7 when Michigan State visits New Hampshire and Notre Dame travels to Minnesota … the University of Vermont has not trailed in a game this season on the way to its first 4-0-0 start since 2005 … the Catamounts had a 135:31 shutout streak snapped on Oct. 25 when Connecticut scored in the third period of a 2-1 UVM victory … many of Hockey East’s newest faces, the freshmen class of 2014-15, are making their presence felt in the early part of the season … Boston College’s Noah Hanifin scored his first goal on Oct. 24 against Colorado College while fellow freshman Cam Spiro recorded his first two-goal game as an Eagle against the Tigers … Maine freshman forward Malcolm Hayes notched his first goal in the Oct. 25, 3-3 draw with Alaska Anchorage; UMass Lowell’s Dylan Zink scored his first goal on Oct. 24 against Michigan; New Hampshire rookie defenseman Richard Boyd collected his first career points with two assists against Colorado College on Oct. 25; Merrimack’s Marc Biega scored his first two collegiate goals in a 5-4 overtime victory at Mercyhurst; Northeastern’s Garret Cockerill collected his first collegiate points with a goal and an assist against Massachusetts on Oct. 24; three Notre Dame freshman (Anders Bjork, Dawson Cook, Connor Hurley) recorded the first goals of their Irish careers against Niagara while rookie netminder Cal Petersen chalked up his first career shutout on Sat., Oct. 25; Providence freshman defenseman Jake Walman recorded his first career point as a Friar with an assist in the Oct. 25 2-2 tie at North Dakota … Boston College sophomore forward Adam Gilmour was selected as the Hockey East/Warrior player of the week for the week ending Oct. 26, as he registered two helpers for the Eagles in a 6-2 win over Colorado College on Fri., Oct. 24 … he also netted a pair of five-on-three goals, including the game-winning strike, and tallied an assist against Massachusetts on Saturday to complete a five-point weekend … Massachusetts’ freshman goaltender Henry Dill was named the Hockey East/Pro Ambitions rookie of the week for his two games Northeastern and Boston College … in two games, Dill stopped 69 shots, posting a 2.51 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage, going 1-1-0 on the weekend … he made 42 saves in a 3-2 win against Northeastern and was the first star of the game … junior goaltender Matt O’Connor was named the Hockey East defensive player of the week as he led Boston University to a pair of wins over Big Ten rivals Michigan State and Michigan at Agganis Arena … O’Connor recorded his first career shutout with a 29-save performance in the Terriers’ 1-0 win over the Spartans … he followed that with a 38-save performance in a 3-2 win over No. 14 Michigan … the University of Connecticut has played its first two Hockey East games over the last week, playing both Merrimack and Vermont tough … the Huskies dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at Merrimack (Oct. 18) and then dropped another 2-1 decision at Vermont on Oct. 25 … Hockey East has the only two teams in the nation that have not given up a power-play goal – New Hampshire is a perfect 16-for-16 this season and Vermont is 14-for-14 after its first four games.