ND hockey takes 1-0 series lead over Providence

Steve Lowe Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — A little luck and a whole lot of Cal Petersen Friday night have No. 12 Notre Dame’s postseason fortunes looking a little brighter.

Notre Dame exploded for three goals in the second period and Petersen stopped 43 shots to record his sixth shutout of the season in a 5-0 win over No. 10 Providence College.

The Irish grabbed the first game of the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series by taking advantage of some fortunate bounces in the second period to blow the game open. Game 2 is back at the Compton Family Ice Arena, Saturday night at 7:05.

“There was some puck luck out there tonight,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “But we forced some things to happen to create those funny bounces, and we scored some opportunistic goals.”

Jordan Gross, Jack Jenkins and Jake Evans each had a goal and an assist for the Irish (20-10-5).

Four-seed Notre Dame lost just once in February, its last game to end the regular season at Boston University. The Irish also picked up an important win

over BU two weekends ago, but they need to win this series to remain in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid. The PairWise math is fairly clear on this point — lose two games to fifth-seed Providence this weekend, and their season will likely be over.

The Friars (22-10-5) were 13-1-1 over their last 15 games coming in, but it was the Irish who gave them that loss and tie in a series in South Bend three weeks ago, and their dominance continued.

“They’re a really good team and have a lot of fire power,” Petersen said of Providence. “I think we just match up well with them. They’re a similar team to us, similar style, similar personnel. I think it just comes down to a battle of will. I think tomorrow is going to be a lot tougher challenge.”

Gross gave the Irish an early lead when he lofted a floater on net that Providence goalie Hayden Hawkey never saw until after it sailed over his shoulder, 9:31 into the first period. Junior Bo Brauer picked up his first career assist on the goal.

Jenkins made it 2-0 Notre Dame in the second period when his sharp angle shot from the bottom of the right circle somehow squirted between Hawkey and the post.

“Jack Jenkins had a great game,” Jackson said of his fourth-line center. The Irish fourth line of Jenkins, Brauer and Joe Wegwerth finished with two goals and three assists.

“He gave that line a little bit of tenaciousness and speed,” Jackson continued, “and those big guys did a good job of controlling the puck down low.”

The Irish poured it on from there. Wegwerth got a gift of a goal when Friar defenseman Josh Monk misplayed a carom off the back boards and the puck went right to Wegwerth in front. Wegwerth waited for Hawkey to go to the ice and slid in his seventh goal of the season. Petersen picked up his second assist of the season on that one.

Evans then made it 4-0 when he got around the PC defense and trickled one in under Hawkey. Anders Bjork and Evans each hit posts during the second period as well, and Petersen finished with 17 saves in the frame to keep the Friars off the board.

“I’m sure it will be a lot more challenging tomorrow,” Jackson said. “Having great goaltending is the No. 1 factor of winning in the playoffs. (Petersen) did a great job tonight, faced a lot of shots.”

Irish freshman forward Cal Burke went down early in the first period with a leg injury and was helped off the ice. He returned to the ice briefly to test the leg during a break in play, but did not take another shift during the game. Jackson is unsure of his status for Saturday night’s game.

FIRST PERIOD

ND - Jordan Gross, 9 (Bo Brauer, Jack Jenkins) 9:31. Shots on goal: ND 12, PC 9; Penalties: ND 2-4, PC 1-2.

SECOND PERIOD

ND - Jenkins, 6 (Brauer, Tory Dello) 4:24; Joe Wegwerth, 7 (Gross, Cal Petersen) 11:35; ND - Jake Evans, 13 (Cam Morrison, Bobby Nardella) 17:05. Shots: PC 17, ND 9; Penalties: PC 2-4, ND 0-0.

THIRD PERIOD

ND - Andrew Oglevie, 19 (Anders Bjork, Evans) PP, 2:11. Shots: PC 17, ND 4; Penalties: PC 2-4, ND 1-2.

PC 0 0 0 - 0

ND 1 3 1 - 5

Shots: PC 43, ND 25; Saves: ND 43 (Cal Petersen), PC 20 (Hayden Hawkey); Power plays: ND 1-4, PC 0-1; Penalties: PC 5-10, ND 3-6; Attendance: 3,933.

Notre Dame hockey player Cal Petersen. (Photo courtesy of Notre Dame)