Notre Dame hockey junior goaltender Cal Petersen to turn pro

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Cal Petersen has smothered his last puck at Notre Dame.

Petersen, the team's standout junior goaltender, announced on Wednesday that he will forego his final season of collegiate eligibility with the intention of signing a National Hockey League contract this summer.

“I feel immensely fortunate I was given the opportunity to attend Notre Dame and play hockey for the Fighting Irish,” Petersen said in a statement. “The experiences and memories I have shared with my teammates and best friends both on and off the ice will be something I carry with me forever.

"This is the hardest decision I have ever had to make because of how incredible of a place Notre Dame is to be both a student and an athlete."

The first goalie to be named captain in program history, Petersen will be enormously difficult to replace. The Waterloo, Iowa, native finished his junior season with a 23-12-5 record to go along with a 2.22 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and six shutouts, which was tied for the NCAA lead.

He led the Irish to their third Frozen Four appearance in program history and was one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award, which honors the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men's hockey.

Petersen was a fifth round pick (129th overall) by Buffalo in the 2013 NHL Draft. He could choose to sign with the Sabres or become a free agent later this summer.

“I am proud of Cal for taking his time and doing his due diligence before making the decision to take the next step in his career,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said in a statement. “I know completing his degree at Notre Dame will also be an important part of his future.

"Cal is a special young man and an exceptional goaltender. I have enjoyed watching him develop on the ice and as a leader. I look forward to following his bright future in hockey and in life."

Petersen closed his Irish career by starting 90 consecutive games, which is the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. In his three-year tenure at Notre Dame, he finished first in program history in career save percentage (.924), second in minutes played (6498:02), third in saves (3,042) and goals against average (2.30), tied for third in victories (55) and fourth in shutouts (11) and games played (110).

Notre Dame’s Cal Petersen (40) tries to stop a shot that went wide during the Boston College at Notre Dame hockey game in Compton Family Ice Arena Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)