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Notre Dame's Cal Petersen Basically Beat Denver By Himself

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Petersen had 49 saves, plus two shootout saves, as the Irish beat Denver in a shootout.

This is the only photo of Cal Petersen available to us. It's from 2012. He's still probably better than 90% of college hockey goalies as of this photo.
This is the only photo of Cal Petersen available to us. It's from 2012. He's still probably better than 90% of college hockey goalies as of this photo.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

If you were still drowning your sorrows the night of New Year's Day from ND's loss to Ohio State and didn't watch the Irish hockey team's game against Denver, you missed a spectacular performance by ND goalie Cal Petersen.

You might remember me trumpeting Petersen's exploits a lot last year, and that was before he set an NCAA record with 87 (!!) saves in a 5-OT Hockey East tournament game against UMass. Well, he was at it again Friday night, making 49 saves and basically single-handedly beating Denver. ND itself had only 27 shots on goal in the game.

The Pioneers pretty much dominated the scoring chances from the get-go. A great pass five minutes into the game by Denver set up a one-on-one scoring chance that Petersen turned aside. Then, a loose puck and scrum in front of the net a couple of minutes later resulted in another dodged bullet for the Irish. ND got its first chance with 11 minutes to go in the period when Sam Herr fired a rebound shot at the net (while the Irish were shorthanded) and Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet made a great diving save.

The Irish got on the board first when Connor Hurley put enough pressure on Jaillet as he was trying to corral the puck that it squirted away and into the net. The play was reviewed for some time before the referees ruled that the goal stood, and ND led 1-0.

Petersen dominated from there. ND was shorthanded for seven straight minutes, owing largely to Luke Ripley being sent off for a game misconduct for checking Troy Terry into the boards, and the Pioneers still couldn't score. Petersen made a spectacular save on a crossing shot during that span. At one point, Denver was outshooting the Irish 38-9, and were losing, thanks to Petersen.

Denver got on the board with 13:15 to go in regulation on a goal that wasn't Petersen's fault. Trevor Moore of Denver fired a shot at the net that happened to deflect off ND's Andy Ryan and past Petersen. ND got its first power play of the game just a few moments later, but were unable to make anything of it. The Pioneers nearly scored the winning goal with 5:34 to go on a play that was also reviewed, but Petersen was able to wedge the puck between his legs and keep it from fully crossing the goal line.

The overtime rules didn't make much sense to me (was that NCHC-only or is that a new NCAA-wide rule? It was different than OT last year). 5 minutes of 5-on-5, then 5 minutes of 3-on-3, then a shootout. Anyway, no goals were scored, with ND coming closest on a great shot at the net with 3 minutes left of the first overtime that Jaillet saved. Thomas DiPauli also put a nice shot on net late in the 3-on-3 period that was saved as well.

In the shootout, Petersen cast aside both of Denver's shots - naturally - before DiPauli was able to find the net on ND's 2nd shot, winning the shootout. DiPauli then turned around and pointed at Petersen, with good reason.

Keep watching ND hockey, guys. Or if you haven't been, start. Cal Petersen is fun. A home-and-home with WMU Friday and Saturday (first on NBCSN, second on CBSSN) is next. Don't miss it.

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