No. 9 Boston gets by No. 10 Notre Dame hockey
SOUTH BEND — When the Hockey East playoffs start next weekend, Notre Dame will enjoy some time off, but head coach Jeff Jackson wasn't in a mood to celebrate, Friday night.
That's because the Irish are still trying to figure out how to beat a ranked team after a 3-2 loss to No. 9 Boston at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
No. 10 Notre Dame is 1-5-5 against ranked opponents, but despite the outcome, the Irish still clinched at least a fourth-place finish in Hockey East with UMass Lowell's loss to Boston College, and a first-round bye in the HEA tournament.
Not that that was any consolation.
"We don't want to back into anything," Jackson said. "Our team's better than that. We ran into two good hockey teams to finish the year, and we have to find a way to beat a really good hockey team."
Notre Dame (18-8-7, 14-5-2 Hockey East) lost its third straight game after being swept at No. 5 Providence last weekend. The Irish will get one more shot against BU tonight on Senior Night to close out the regular season, with the winner claiming third place in the league.
"We've been a solid team all year and we earned the first-round bye," said Irish senior forward Sam Herr. "We have a chance to claim third place and that's all that's on everyone's minds."
The Terriers (19-9-5, 12-5-4) opened the scoring late in the first period when Ahti Oksanen banged a power play one-timer past Irish goalie Cal Petersen, who was just named on Friday one of 26 nominees for the Mike Richter Award, given to the most outstanding goaltender in college hockey.
The Irish answered with their own power play tally off the stick of Connor Hurley on a cross-ice feed from Bobby Nardella with just six seconds left in the first period to tie it up, 1-1.
The fourth line for BU got the lead back with a gritty goal when Mike Moran battled in front of Petersen to knock home a rebound, three minutes into the second period.
The Irish got plenty of traffic in front of BU goalie Sean Maguire after falling behind, but struggled to get many quality chances. Maguire finished with 33 saves.
"They did a good job of shrinking the (offensive) zone," Herr said. "It's just a mindset of competing for body position and competing for ice that we didn't do tonight, that we need to tomorrow."
"There wasn't a lot of room out there," said BU coach David Quinn. "At this time of year, it's the little things that matter because you're playing really good teams."
About seven minutes into the third period, the Irish officially clinched their first-round bye when BC's win over Lowell went final. Two minutes after that, BU took a 3-1 lead when defenseman Charlie McAvoy, expected to go very early in the next NHL draft, sent in a laser beam over Petersen's right shoulder.
Steven Fogarty scored an extra-attacker goal with 1:32 to play to make it 3-2.
"The effort's there," Herr said. "But with the execution, we run into trouble sometimes."
BU - Ahti Oksanen, 15 (Danny O'Regan, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson) PP, 15:24; ND - Connor Hurley, 6 (Bobby Nardella, Jordan Gross) PP, 19:54. Shots on goal: BU 13, ND 9; Penalties: BU 1-2, ND 1-2.
BU - Mike Moran, 4 (Chase Phelps, Tommy Kelley) 2:58. Shots: ND 16, BU 8; Penalties: BU 3-6, ND 1-2.
BU - Charlie McAvoy, 3 (Jordan Greenway) 9:07; ND - Steven Fogarty, 10 (Gross, Jake Evans) 18:28. Shots: ND 10, BU 3; Penalties: None.
BU 1 1 1 — 3
ND 1 0 1 — 2
Shots: ND 35, BU 24; Saves: BU 33 (Sean Maguire), ND 21 (Cal Petersen); Power plays: ND 1-3, BU 1-1; Penalties: BU 4-8, ND 2-4; Attendance: 5,022.