Wearing the green jerseys on Senior Night, the Irish hockey team bounced back from a 2-0 Friday night loss to beat Boston College 3-1. While this night was about the seniors, ND freshman made huge contributions for the Irish. Anders Bjork opened the scoring early in the first period, Jordan Gross netted a goal in the second, and fellow freshman Cal Peterson made 55 saves from 56 shots to earn the win. The 55 save performance was a career high for Peterson, and the most saves made by an Irish netminder since 1988. Despite the win, the Irish failed to earn a first round bye for the Hockey East tournament placing fifth in the final standings.
After pregame recognition for the three senior managers, five senior players, the Austrian national anthem, and a US national anthem performance by Chicago Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison, the Irish started strong from the opening faceoff. After a scrum in front of the net which saw Mario Lucia miss just wide, Bjork scored with a wrap around beating the BC goalie Thatcher Demko. Vince Hinostroza and Lucia were credited with the assists on the goal. BC responded in a big way after the Irish took the lead, but were unable to get anything past Peterson who stopped all 22 of the Eagles shots in the first period. The Irish, meanwhile, were only credited with 7 shots in the period. Notre Dame doubled their lead in early in the second when freshman defenseman Jordan Gross fired a shot just inside the right post to finish a three-on-two rush for the Irish. Hinostroza picked up his second assist of the night on the goal with a slick backhand pass to find Gross wide open just inside the blue line. Both teams had chances with the extra skater in the second, but both teams failed to convert either of their opportunities. Late in the period, Peterson had what was probably his most amazing play of the night when he knocked a puck out of the air up and over the net with his goal stick. While BC outshot ND again in the second, the margin was a much closer 14-11 advantage.
Boston College was finally able to beat Peterson early in the third period when Cam Spiro found the net on Peterson's glove side off assists from Teddy Doherty and Noah Hanifin. With the deficit cut to one, BC pressed for an equalizing goal, but Peterson stoned BC shooters again and again to preserve the Irish lead. Finally with 3:25 left in the game, Austin Wuthrich deflected in an Ali Thomas shot to give ND a 3-1 lead. The play was reviewed to determine if it was kicked in, but the goal was upheld giving the senior a goal on senior night. The Eagles pulled Demko for the extra skater with 90 seconds left, but were unable to find the goals they needed to come back.
Here's a look at the stats from tonight's 3-1 win over the Eagles of Boston College. pic.twitter.com/IrRPPwUeFE— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) March 1, 2015
- Peterson was simply outstanding between the pipes, and there's not much more to be said. Demko was the story in the first game of the series, and Peterson managed to top him tonight. The freshman has already won a couple Hockey East awards, and could be in for another one after this weekend.
- Vince Hinostroza's two assists tonight gave him 30 on the season. This leads the Irish and is good for fourth nationally.
- Gross and Bjork had excellent freshman seasons for the Irish. Both had six goals and double digit assists on the season which bodes well for the future of the team.
- I've thought that previous year's green Senior Night sweaters didn't look great when paired with the team's navy breezers, but I didn't think that was the case this year. I really liked the look of them this season, and loved Under Armor's design.
- The Irish wore a commemorative sticker on their helmets in remembrance of Father Ted Hesburgh in both games this weekend. A video about the former ND President was shown during the first intermission.
- Five Irish seniors were recognized tonight before the game.
- Joe Aiken walked onto the team after playing on the ND club team for one season. He scored a game winning goal at UConn, and appeared in 7 games this season.
- Eric Johnson appeared in 15 games this season at defenseman. He is the younger brother of ND Hockey alum Mike Johnson who finished his career in 2013.
- Peter Schneider had four goals and four assists for ND this season, and appeared in 35 games. The Vienna, Austria native got to hear the ND Hockey Band play the Austrian national anthem before the game as part of Senior Night ceremonies. He also served as an alternate captain this season.
- Austin Wuthrich had nine goals and six assists this season for the Irish. His goal late in the third helped seal the win for ND tonight. He's a draft pick of the Washington Capitals.
- Robbie Russo had one of the best seasons by a defenseman in college hockey this year. The Hobey Baker candidate finished the regular season with 12 goals and 18 assists with a +11 rating which are all near the top of the list nationally among blue liners. He was also named captain late in the season due to his work with all of the freshman at his position. Russo is a draft pick of the New York Islanders.
- Since ND won't be receiving an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Irish have to win the Hockey East Tournament to make the dance. Their first round best-of-three series is next weekend at home against last place UMass. If the Irish win, they'll travel to Lowell for a quarterfinal series. The semifinals and finals will be held at the TD Garden in Boston and are single elimination. While they won't be favored to win the tournament, the Irish have beat all three top seeds in the last three weeks. If Peterson continues his good form, don't be surprised to see the Irish playing in Boston for a shot at the NCAAs.