Savvy defenseman Jordan Gross giving Notre Dame hockey boost

Steve Lowe
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — Confidence has never been an issue for Notre Dame defenseman Jordan Gross, and it's only growing this season for the sophomore.

Gross scored two goals Thursday night and the Irish held on after nearly losing a 3-0 lead to beat Northeastern, 3-2, in a Hockey East clash at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Gross scored both of No. 18 Notre Dame's first period goals on two of the softest shots in hockey — a simple floater that snuck through a Sam Herr screen, and a tap-in follow-up of his own shot seven minutes later that made it 2-0.

"That was probably the easiest goal of my career," Gross said with a big smile. "I'm really confident with the puck. (The coaches) kind of let me do a little more offensively and they want me to start taking charge, so I've been trying to do that more."

That's been a boon to Notre Dame's offense, which was tied for ninth-best in the country coming in at 3.88 goals per game.

Gross now has his second two-goal game in less than a week, which tied him for the team lead with five goals on the season.

"He's just got savvy," Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. "He's just smart, he's got poise, and he's deceptive at the blueline.

"He gets the puck through, and that's how he gets points."

The Irish (5-2-2, 3-0-0 Hockey East) went up 3-0 on Andrew Oglevie's first career goal, 3:05 into the second period, and looked to have complete control of the game. Then, in the span of 28 seconds, they didn't.

Northeastern (1-8-1, 0-4-1), which is winless in its last nine games, scored on an odd play from behind the Irish net, with goaltender Cal Petersen whiffing when he tried to poke away the puck as it rolled in front of him through the crease. Zach Aston-Reese knocked it in, leaving an incredulous Petersen lying facedown on the ice, and Brendan Collier made it a game again when he beat Petersen low to his glove side 28 seconds later to make it 3-2.

The Irish then had to kill off a pair of penalties down the stretch of the second period, including a five-minute major and game misconduct on defenseman Andy Ryan for contact to the head.

But the Huskies did little with the extended man-advantage, managing just three shots, two of which missed the net and one that was blocked. Notre Dame had the best scoring chance of the major penalty when Anders Bjork snuck free for a shorthanded breakaway shot.

"The good thing is we held on and responded, especially with that big kill," Jackson said. "I think that was huge."

Petersen made it hold up in the third period, collecting nine of his 23 saves to get the Irish in the win column.

"I think the team did a fantastic job especially on the kill, that was huge," Petersen said. "Whenever teams got a quick two goals in the past with a younger team, we were kind of looking for guys to be on their heels, but I think we're very resilient and that obviously showed."

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Jordan Gross, 4 (Steven Fogarty, Sam Herr) PP, 5:54; ND - Gross, 5 (Dylan Malmquist, Jake Evans) 13:18. Shots on goal: ND 13, NU 12; Penalties: NU 1-2, ND 0.

SECOND PERIOD

ND - Andrew Oglevie, 1 (Evans, Dennis Gilbert) 3:05; NU - Zach Aston-Reese, 1 (John Stevens, Nolan Stevens) 6:40; Brendan Collier, 1 (Ryan Rosenthal, Dalen Hedges) 7:08. Shots: ND 10, NU 4; Penalties: ND 3-17, NU 0.

THIRD PERIOD

No scoring. Shots: NU 9, ND 8; Penalties: NU 3-6, ND 2-4.

NU 0 2 0 - 2

ND 2 1 0 - 3

Shots: ND 31, NU 25; Saves: NU 28 (Ryan Ruck), ND 23 (Cal Petersen); Power plays: ND 1-3, NU 0-5; Penalties: ND 5-21, NU 4-8; Attendance: 4,418.

Notre Dame’s Jordan Gross scores one of his two first period goals Thursday, November 12, 2015, during the Northeastern-Notre Dame hockey game at Compton Family Ice Arena. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ