Notre Dame skates past No. 5 UMass Lowell

Steve Lowe
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND _ Jeff Jackson couldn't explain his Notre Dame hockey team's turnaround over the course of 24 hours, but he was glad to see it.

One night after being dominated by No. 5 UMass Lowell at home, the ninth-ranked Irish returned the favor with a 4-1 win at the Compton Family Ice Arena to split the Hockey East series.

"Yesterday, maybe we weren't as ready to play against a team of that caliber, and tonight we were," Jackson said. "I can't totally explain it."

Anders Bjork, Bobby Nardella and Andrew Peeke each had a goal and an assist, and the Irish (6-4-2, 3-2-1 HEA) beat Lowell (8-4-2, 4-2-0) for just the second time ever (2-8-2).

The teams skated to a scoreless first period, with Notre Dame's best chance coming on Andrew Oglevie's shot off the right post, but Lowell goaltender Tyler Wall was able to dive back and cover the puck before it rolled across the goal line.

But that was a much better start for the Irish after falling behind in the first 30 seconds of Thursday night's 4-1 loss to Lowell.

"All aspects of the play without the puck were not good (Thursday) and today they were," Jackson said. "We finished more checks, we blocked shots, we made a bigger commitment to doing the things you have to do to win games."

Bjork got the Irish going in the second period when he picked off a pass at center ice and worked it back into the zone before eventually one-timing a pass back from Joe Wegwerth for a 1-0 ND lead.

Bjork now has 20 points on the season (eight goals, 12 assists) which ties him for fourth in the nation in scoring.

"He's one of the best players in the country," Nardella said of Bjork. "It's pretty easy to play with someone like him."

After Kenny Hausinger tied the game with a rebound goal halfway through the second, Peeke's frisbee shot from the right point snuck through a screen to give the Irish the lead back, three minutes later.

"Scoring the first goal was huge, and actually the second goal was probably more important," Jackson said. "Just the response, showing that we were not going to change the way we play just because they scored a goal."

Nardella then made it 3-1 with a wrist shot from the left circle with just over three minutes left, as the Irish outshot UML, 21-7 in the middle period.

Dawson Cook added on in the third period when he blocked a shot in the Irish defensive zone and hustled to the other end of the ice to bang in a rebound to make it a three-goal lead.

"We really emphasized having that will to win, that combat mentality that we've been talking about recently," Nardella said. "Blocking shots, sacrificing your body, taking hits to make plays. That was really there tonight and it wasn't (Thursday) night."

FIRST PERIOD

No scoring. Shots on goal: ND 6, UML 6; Penalties: ND 3-6, UML 1-2.

SECOND PERIOD

ND - Anders Bjork 8 (Joe Wegwerth, Connor Hurley) 3:33; UML - Kenny Hausinger 2 (Jake Kamari's, Nick Master) 10:24; ND - Andrew Peeke 2 (Bobby Nardella, Bjork) 13:16; ND - Nardella 3 (Jack Jenkins, Cal Burke) 16:52. Shots: ND 21, UML 7; Penalties: UML 1-2, ND 1-2.

THIRD PERIOD

ND - Dawson Cook 1 (Peeke, Burke) 8:22. Shots: UML 9, ND 7; Penalties: ND 3-17, UML 2-4.

UML 0 1 0 - 1

ND 1 2 1 - 4

Shots: ND 34, UML 22; Saves: UML 30 (Tyler Wall 25, Chris Hernberg 5), ND 21 (Cal Petersen); Power plays: UML 0-4, ND 0-2; Penalties: ND 7-25, UML 4-8; Attendance: 4,653.

From left: Andrew Peeke, Anders Bjork and Bobby Nardella