Bjork sparks Irish

Steve Lowe Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — At his coach’s continued behest, Anders Bjork is beginning to use his speed for more than just offense, and the results Friday night were notable.

Bjork buzzed up and down the Compton Family Ice Arena, harassing visiting Holy Cross in all phases of the game. He still managed to put up the points, finishing with a goal and two assists in Notre Dame’s 5-3 win in the second game of the Shillelagh Tournament.

Bjork is now third in the country in scoring with nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points, and Irish coach Jeff Jackson said his junior right winger was the best player on the ice.

“And not just offensively,” Jackson said. “He was finishing checks, he was back-checking hard. I was proud of him tonight, because I’m trying to encourage him to be more than a one-dimensional player. Tonight, he was.”

Connor Hurley added a goal and a helper for the Irish (7-4-2). They next face Clarkson, which tied Yale in the first game, 2-2, then took the shootout, 3-1, to advance to Saturday’s championship game at 7:35.

Holy Cross (5-4-2) will play in the afternoon consolation game against Yale.

Notre Dame is looking for its first Shillelagh title since 2010, when the tournament was held in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and first ever at Compton.

“Being a championship team is important to us because having that winning mentality and being a winning team is huge down the stretch,” Bjork said.

The Irish took a 1-0 lead 3:46 into the game on a 3-on-2 rush, with Dylan Malmquist on the left wing feeding Hurley in the slot for an easy chip shot.

Notre Dame held a 9-1 shots-on-goal advantage through the first 12 minutes, but the Crusaders’ second shot of the game found the back of the ND net off of Peter Crinella’s stick to tie the game.

Misfortune struck early in the second period when Irish goaltender Cal Petersen’s clearing pass from behind the goal line found T.J. Moore’s stick in the high slot. Holy Cross’ leading scorer buried it in the vacated net for his 10th of the year and a 2-1 Crusaders lead.

“You don’t want your goaltender making a pass across the ice,” Jackson said. “In most cases, Cal’s the guy that makes a difference for us, so when that happens, it shakes you a little bit.”

For nearly 12 minutes after the miscue, the Irish were on their heels, until Joe Wegwerth muscled a puck past Holy Cross goalie Paul Berrafato to tie the game. Four minutes later, Cam Morrison redirected a Jordan Gross one-timer for a power play goal and a 3-2 Irish lead.

“We bent, but we didn’t break,” Jackson said.

Bjork made it 4-2 in the third period with the prettiest goal of the night.

Bjork took a Hurley pass near center ice and wove his way through the Holy Cross defense before shooting across his body into the upper right corner of the net.

“We had a (defensive) pair that was out there close to a minute-thirty, minute-forty, and he’s a great player and probably sensed that,” said Holy Cross coach David Berard. “He took advantage of it and made a really nice play.”

The Crusaders got that one back six minutes later on a Danny Lopez power play goal, but Notre Dame’s Andrew Oglevie chipped in an empty-netter with five seconds to play.

Crusader Connections

• Holy Cross junior right wing Scott Pooley is the son of Notre Dame associate head coach Paul Pooley.

• Crusaders associate head coach Brock Sheahan was a defenseman for Notre Dame from 2004-08, and later served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Irish in the 2013-14 season.

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Connor Hurley, 4 (Dylan Malmquist, Anders Bjork) 3:46; HC - Peter Crinella, 1 (Jay Mackie, Kevin Darrar) 12:37. Shots on goal: ND 10, HC 4; Penalties: ND 1-2, HC 1-2.

SECOND PERIOD

HC - T.J. Moore, 10 (unassisted) 1:27; ND - Joe Wegwerth, 4 (Jake Evans) 13:16; ND - Cam Morrison, 4 (Jordan Gross, Bjork) PP, 17:37. Shots: ND 11, HC 9; Penalties: HC 3-6, ND 0.

THIRD PERIOD

ND - Bjork, 9 (Hurley) 4:30; HC - Danny Lopez, 6 (Spencer Trapp, Neil Robinson) PP, 10:20; ND - Andrew Oglevie, 6 (unassisted) EN, 19:55. Shots: ND 9, HC 7; Penalties: ND 1-2, HC 0.

HC 1 1 1 - 3

ND 1 2 2 - 5

Shots: ND 30, HC 20; Saves: HC 25 (Paul Berrafato), ND 17 (Cal Petersen); Power plays: ND 1-4, HC 1-2; Penalties: HC 4-8, ND 2-4; Attendance: 4,581.

Notre Dame hockey player Anders Bjork. (Photo courtesy of Notre Dame)