Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 54 of 63 MAY 2017 55 netted another Irish goal, and the game-winner came in the third and final period from Bjork. The next day against UMass Low- ell, Notre Dame drew first blood this time when Bjork fed freshman Cam Morrison, who scored off his own rebound, for a 1-0 lead before the River Hawks tied it at the end of the first period. In the second period, the Irish killed off three power-play oppor- tunities by UMass Lowell, but fell behind 2-1 at 11:38 of the third with the season in the balance. At the 14:43 mark — or about five minutes left in the season — the Bjork-to-Morri- son tandem struck again to knot the game and send it into overtime. It took only 2:44 in the extra ses- sion for the Irish to claim victory when Oglevie blasted in from about five feet a perfect centering pass from Bjork — he assisted on all three goals — for the conquest. Bjork was named the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional's Most Outstand- ing Player with two goals and three assists. The Irish were 22-5-2 this year in games when Bjork scored at least one point, and 1-7-3 when he did not. JUNIOR CLASS LEADS THE WAY After four seasons in Hockey East, Notre Dame begins play in the seven-team Big Ten next season against Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Whether the Irish can be a bona fide Frozen Four aspirant in 2018 will rest in large part on impending deci- sions by stalwarts Bjork and Petersen to head to the NHL or return for their senior campaigns (both were named to the U.S. National Team roster for the 2017 IHF Men's World Champi- onship May 5-21 in Cologne, Ger- many, and Paris, France). Notre Dame's 26-man roster this year featured only two seniors, 10 juniors, six sophomores and eight freshmen. Three of the top four scorers were juniors, led by first-team Hockey East All-Star Bjork (21 goals, 31 assists, 52 points), forward Jake Evans (13-29- 42), and defenseman and honorable mention Hockey East All-Star Jordan Gross (10-22-32). Second in scoring was sophomore forward Oglevie (21-20-41) — who tallied the OT game-winner versus UMass Lowell. The best defenseman is sophomore Dennis Gilbert (0-22-22), a third-team Hockey East All-Star, while classmate Dylan Malmquist (10-13-23) and freshman Cam Morrison (11-12-23) also supplied scoring punch. The de- velopment of freshman defensemen Andrew Peeke (4-10-14) and Jack Jenkins (7-5-12) was "a godsend" to Jackson, who lost top-line players to injury during the season. ✦ In the world of team sports, there is a general consensus that two athletes above all can carry a team or impact the outcome the most. One is a supreme nine-inning pitcher. The other is a hockey goaltender. The latter was a primary reason why Notre Dame crashed this year's Frozen Four. The presence of junior Cal Petersen, the Hockey East first-team All-Star, between the pipes provided a calming ef- fect for head coach Jeff Jackson and the entire operation. Petersen tied for the national lead in shutouts (six) and recorded the second- most saves (1,101) while playing the most minutes of anyone in the country (2,374:34). His 90 consecutive starts are the fourth-longest streak in the NCAA Division I record book. In the upsets of No. 4 Minnesota and No. 5 UMass Lowell to get to the Frozen Four, Petersen amassed 58 saves against two of the nation's most prolific offenses (even adding an assist against the Golden Gophers). How valuable was Petersen? Among the 60 Division I college hockey teams, he was the only goalie who wore the "C" on his jersey as the team captain — and the only one ever at Notre Dame. In the Na- tional Hockey League, goaltenders aren't even permitted to be the captain. In col- lege it is allowed, but they are not al- lowed to communicate with the officials. "The captain in hockey seems to have a much bigger aura than any other sport," said Jackson, a former goalie. "… Most coaches are probably not going to want their goaltender to have to be dis- tracted by a lot of other things outside of just playing the game." Thus, when Jackson named Petersen the team captain — with junior class- mates Anders Bjork, Jake Evans and Luke Ripley as alternates — it might have raised surprise on the outside but none on the inside. "The great captains we've had here have been the best team builders, have been the best guys to make sure all the guys are on the same page," Jackson said. "They're the guys that make your guys toe the line when they need to. They're more involved when the coaches aren't around. … It was more about him and his character, and the fact that he is a hard worker and he's a humble guy, and he's not aloof like a lot of goalies. He's a normal kid." With only two seniors on the 26-man roster, Jackson turned to the rock-like figure in Petersen, who admitted initial surprise. "When Coach brought it up to me I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up," Petersen said. "I knew it was going to be a challenge. I've kind of grown, as well as the team has. I was making sure that it wasn't a disaster or something like that. Since there haven't been very many [goalie captains], I didn't have any to gauge myself with. I just tried to be myself and lead the best way that I could, and then have help from the other captains. "… For me it's just important to be the hardest working guy on the ice and lead by example. Even if you can't be the most vocal … you need to find ways to lead differently." A fifth-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Petersen has a decision to make soon on if he will return for his senior year in 2017-18. Whether he stays or goes, his legacy will include his unique captaincy that steadied and righted Notre Dame's hockey ship in 2016-17. — Lou Somogyi Junior Cal Petersen was the lone goalie among 60 Division I teams to be named a team captain. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND Captain Cal: A Rare 'C'

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