Irish are fire on ice

Bjork helps ND roll past Friars

Steve Lowe Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Anders Bjork and the Notre Dame hockey team are heating up at just the right time.

Bjork had two goals Friday night and the No. 15 Fighting Irish scored three times in the third period to skate off with a 4-1 win over No. 10 Providence for their fourth straight victory.

Needing every win it can muster over the final few weeks of the regular season to boost its postseason chances, Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last five games, and also stopped Providence's winning streak at nine games.

"They were one of the hottest teams in college hockey — we knew that going in," Bjork said. "In the locker room, we were saying, like, 'We're the hottest team in college hockey. We've been on a little bit of a roll here.' And I think we just decided we're as good as any team in the country, so we've just got play like it. I really think we did that tonight."

Junior goaltender Cal Petersen started his 81st straight game in net for the Irish and tied Boston College's John Muse for the fourth-longest consecutive starts streak in NCAA history. Cornell goalie Ben Scrivens (2007-10) has the longest streak at 104 games. Petersen finished with 33 saves on 34 shots from Providence (18-9-4, 10-7-2 Hockey East).

Freshman Cal Burke gave Notre Dame (18-9-4, 11-5-3) the lead in the third period when he cleaned up the rebound from a Tory Dello one-timer off a faceoff in the Providence zone, 59 seconds in. Burke, who continues to come on with increased ice time, tied for the team lead with seven shots on goal and was +2 for the game.

"Because of some of the things that happened over the last month, with injuries and guys moving out of the lineup, what it did was give opportunities to guys like Cal and Jack Jenkins," said Irish coach Jeff Jackson. "Sometimes the greatest coaching is just accidental, but they're taking advantage of the opportunity."

Bjork made it a two-goal advantage when he jumped on the ice during a penalty kill and intercepted a pass. Bjork's breakaway shot hit the crossbar and bounced back into PC goalie Hayden Hawkey, but Friar defenseman Jake Walman crashed into Hawkey, pushing both the goalie and the puck into the net.

"I tried to stay a little quiet, and luckily the pass was a little bit slow, so I had time to pick it off," Bjork said. "Sort of a lucky break there, especially coming right on the ice after a change."

Bjork then added a power-play goal two minutes later and the Irish cruised to the win, and in the process moved ahead of idle UMass-Lowell for sole possession of third place in the Hockey East standings.

Jenkins got it started for the Irish late in the first period, when he converted a feed from Andrew Oglevie on a 4-on-2 break to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. That assist extended Oglevie's point-scoring streak to 11 games.

With six minutes left in the second period, Anthony Florentino tied the game 1-1, when his sharp-angle shot trickled through Petersen's pads.

"There wasn't a lot of ice out there tonight," Jackson said. "There wasn't much space. It was like a playoff game."

This weekend marks the final regular-season home stand for the Irish, but not the final home games of the season. Notre Dame has clinched home-ice for at least the first round of the Hockey East tournament and is looking to cash in this hot streak over the last three games by clinching a first-round bye and hosting the second round.

"We're starting to get it as far as keeping the game simple," Jackson said. "Providence is a good team. For us to be able to knock them down was a big step for us."

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Jack Jenkins, 5 (Andrew Oglevie, Dennis Gilbert) 17:34. Shots on goal: PC 11, ND 8; Penalties: None.

SECOND PERIOD

PC - Anthony Florentino, 9 (unassisted) 14:02. Shots: ND 13, PC 12; Penalties: ND 1-2, PC 0-0.

THIRD PERIOD

ND - Cal Burke, 3 (Tory Dello, Gilbert) 0:59; ND - Anders Bjork, 18 (unassisted) SH, 14:18; ND - Bjork, 19 (Bobby Nardella, Jordan Gross) PP, 16:15. Shots: ND 14, PC 11; Penalties: ND 1-2, PC 1-2.

Prov. 0 1 0 — 1

ND 1 0 3 — 4

Shots: ND 35, PC 34; Saves: ND 33 (Cal Petersen), PC 31 (Hayden Hawkey); Power plays: ND 1-1, PC 0-2; Penalties: ND 2-4, PC 1-2; Attendance: 4,509.

Alaska's Troy Van Teteringn reaches for Notre Dame's Anders Bjork (10), Saturday, December 31, 2016 in South Bend. Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ