Feb. 28, 2014
Notre Dame, Ind. -
Notre Dame closes out the 2013-14 Hockey East regular-season schedule with a 4:00 p.m. game on Saturday, March 1 versus the number-one ranked Boston College Eagles at Kelley Rink on the Boston College campus.
The game will be televised by the New England Sports Network (NESN) with Tom Caron calling the action and Craig Janney providing the color commentary.
Notre Dame comes into the game having won three in a row and is unbeaten in its last five games (4-0-1) since Feb. 8. The Irish are 19-12-2 on the season and own an 8-9-2 record in Hockey East, good for 18 points and a tie for seventh in the conference standings with Vermont. The Catamounts enter the weekend with one game in hand (19-18).
The best that Notre Dame can finish is sixth and the lowest is eighth depending on the outcome of other games this weekend. Boston College enters Saturday's game with a 19-game unbeaten streak (17-0-2) and has not lost a game since November 29 when the Eagles dropped a 5-4 decision to Holy Cross. BC is 25-4-4 on the season and 16-1-2 in the conference and in first place. The Eagles have already clinched first in the standings and will have a first-round bye in the playoffs.
"They are so deep in every area," says Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.
"They have great goaltending; they have great defense and they have maybe the best combination of forwards in the country. That top line (Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes), since they put them together, has been unstoppable and we saw it first hand when we played them at Fenway Park."
The two teams met at Frozen Fenway on Jan. 4 with Boston College taking a 4-3 victory in a game that was the first for the Irish in five weeks due to finals and the Christmas holidays. The Irish rallied from a pair of deficits in that game (2-0 and 3-2) to tie the game in the third but Gaudreau got the game winner with just over 11 minutes left in the game to make it 4-2. A final Notre Dame flurry looked like the Irish may have scored the tying goal as time ran out but after a review the goal was waved off.
Jackson and his team know they have their work cut out for them on Saturday when it comes to facing the top-ranked Eagles.
"We are going to have to play a great game and we are going to have to play real smart," explains Jackson.
"We are going to have to be real good with the puck. Their game is a large part about transition. We have to be smart with our puck decisions and make good plays with the puck. When I look back at that Fenway game, "we gave up a breakaway short-handed goal, a two-on-one goal and a goal off a face off. Those are all situations that we can eliminate and we'll have to if we are going to beat a team of that caliber.
The Irish look forward to playing this final key Hockey East game against the talented Eagles.
"Our guys will be ready to play them. Every team gets up for them, just like teams get up to play us," says Jackson.
"We have had good games with them. I think we are better in a speed game environment. There is the rivalry issue with BC. BC is going to be like playing Michigan in the CCHA. Our guys will be energized and excited to play."
Senior defenseman Kevin Lind has faced Boston College in each of his four years at Notre Dame and knows just what the Eagles are capable of at any given moment.
"They are a very opportunistic team," says Lind.
"Coach talked about it earlier this week when he said, `we could have six good scoring chances and score on two of them. They are so opportunistic that they could score on five or six of them." (Johnny) Gaudreau is dynamic. (Kevin) Hayes and (Bill) Arnold are dynamic. It will be important to shut down that line or do the best we can. They are very opportunistic and obviously very highly skilled."
IRISH VERSUS THE EAGLES
Notre Dame and Boston College have met 33 times in the all-time series with the Eagles holding an 18-13-2 advantage. In games played at BC, the Eagles are 8-7-1 against the Irish. Dating back to the 2003-04 season, Notre Dame is 6-4-0 versus Boston College although the Eagles have won the last two games in the series. The two teams have already met once this season - on Jan. 4 at Fenway Park - with Boston College taking a 4-3 win. Notre Dame has played Boston College more than any other team in Hockey East (33 games).
"Especially since we joined Hockey East, it's probably our biggest rivalry," says Lind.
"It's the two predominant Catholic schools in the country. We've always played them really well. It seems like we always played one-goal games against them. We've played in ultimate settings like Fenway Park. I think it's a very good rivalry."
IRISH VERSUS NO. 1
When Notre Dame faces Boston College on Saturday night, it will mark the third time this season that the Irish have played the top ranked team in the nation. On Nov. 8, Notre Dame defeated top-ranked Minnesota, 4-1, at the Compton Family Ice Arena, before falling in the second game, 5-4, to the Gophers. The win on Nov. 8 was the first win for the Irish against a top-ranked team since Oct. 23, 2010 when the Irish defeated No. 1 Boston College, 2-1, at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame has knocked off the top-ranked team in the nation 13 times in the program's history. Here's a list of Irish wins versus top-ranked teams.
11/8/13 - vs. Minnesota, 4-1 10/23/10 - vs. Boston College, 2-1 4/10/08 - vs. Michigan, 5-4 ot (at Frozen Four) 10/9/07 - at Miami, 2-1 10/21/06 - vs. Boston College, 7-1 10/22/04 - vs. Boston College, 3-2 10/23/03 - at Boston College, 1-0 1/3/99 - at North Dakota, 4-3 11/20/78 - at Minnesota, 3-2 1/13/78 - vs. Denver, 5-3 1/18/74 - vs. Michigan Tech, 7-1 2/24/73 - vs. Wisconsin, 4-3 2/23/73 - vs. Wisconsin, 8-5
Boston College has had an impressive season both offensively and defensively this season. The Eagles lead the nation in scoring with 141 goals in 33 games. The next closest team to them is Union College. The Dutchemn have 118 goals in 32 games for a 3.69 goals per game average. Mercyhurst is second in goals with 125 but has played 36 games for a 3.47 average.
Defensively, the Eagles are fifth in the nation with the fewest goals - 69 in 33 games (2.09 average). The Irish are fourth, having given up 67 goals in 33 games for a 2.03 average. Minnesota is tops with 59 against in 30 games (1.97 average).
On the power play, Boston College is fifth in the country with a 23.3% success rate. St. Lawrence is tops in the country with a 28.5% mark. The Eagles have 28 power-play goals in 120 chances. The Irish have 32 on 172 chances and are 24th nationally with an 18.7% conversion rate.
Killing penalties, Boston College is tops in the nation with a 91.2% rate. The Eagles have given up just 13 power -play goals in 147 chances. The Irish are fifth overall, giving up 19 ppg in 149 opportunities for an 87.2% success rate.
Individually, there is that line of Gaudreau-Arnold and Hayes. The trio ranks 1-2-3 in Hockey East scoring and overall Gaudreau is tops in the nation (29 goals, 34 assists, 63 points) for 1.91 points per game. Hayes is tied for second in points (22-29-51) and third in points per game (1.55). Arnold is fourth in points (12-32-44) and seventh in points per game (1.33). Since joining forces as a line on Dec. 6, BC has not lost a game (17-0-2) and the trio has combined for 40 goals and 54 assists (94 points) and a +67 plus/minus rating. This line has outscored all of its opponents, combined, 40-33, since Dec. 6.
"That line has three great players there," says Jackson.
"(Johnny) Gaudreau gets all the attention but the other two guys are pretty darn good players too. You have to be ready to play that line. If you contain Gaudreau, you are going to get burned by (Kevin) Hayes or (Bill) Arnold. They are three really good players and that is why they are so good together. Any one of the three could probably be the best player in the country. They haven't lost a game since they started playing together."
The man who will spend the most time watching the Eagles' terrific trio is goaltender Steven Summerhays. He knows how good they are but reminds everyone that you can't forget the remainder of the BC lineup.
"Anytime you play a team that has that much offensive talent it's always the most talented or most offensive line that gets talked about," explains Summerhays.
"Sometimes you overlook everyone else on that team. They have a lot of guys who have a lot of points. You put too much emphasis on that top line trying to shut them down, you forget about the other ones. Obviously we want to shut down the best player in college hockey and the best line. If you get too focused on them though, the other guys will burn you. That's what happened when we played them last year."
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
The Hockey East schedule rolls into its final weekend and Notre Dame will host a first round playoff game on March 8 at the Compton Family Ice Arena at 7:05 p.m. The Irish don't know who they will play since they can finish anywhere from sixth to eighth in the final standings. They enter the weekend tied for seventh with Vermont although the Catamounts have a game in hand as they play two at home against UMass-Lowell. New Hampshire has two at Merrimack while Providence travels to Maine for its final two games. Here's a look at where the Irish stand entering the weekend of Feb. 28-March 1.
Team GP Record Pts. GR 1. Boston College 19 16-1-2 34 1 (ND) 2. UMass-Lowell 18 10-5-3 23 2 (@UVM, @UVM) 3. Northeastern 18 10-6-2 22 2 @BU, BU) 4. Maine 18 9-6-3 21 2 (PC, PC) 5. New Hampshire 18 10-8-0 20 2 (@MC, @MC) Providence 18 9-7-2 20 2 (@ ME, @ME) 7. Vermont 18 9-9-0 18 2 (UML, UML) Notre Dame 19 8-9-2 18 1 (@BC) 9. Massachusetts 20 4-13-3 11 0 10. Boston Univ. 18 3-12-3 9 2 (NE, @NE) 11. Merrimack 18 2-14-2 6 2 (UNH, UNH)MR. ZERO
With back-to-back shutouts of Boston University last weekend, Notre Dame has now recorded three shutouts in a row for the first time in the program's 46-year history. The last goal that the Irish gave up came on Feb. 14 at 13:49 of the third period of a 2-2 overtime tie at Providence. The shutout streak is at 191:11.
Steven Summerhays was in goal for the first two (a 3-0 shutout at Providence and a 2-0 shutout of Boston University) and then shared the third on Feb. 22 (2-0 vs. BU) with fellow senior Joe Rogers. Summerhays now has seven shutouts this season and has combined for an eighth with Rogers. The most shutouts that Notre Dame has ever had in a season are nine in 2009 when Jordan Pearce `09 had eight and Tommy O'Brien `10 had one. When Summerhays blanked Boston University on Feb. 21, 2-0, it gave him a new Notre Dame record of 13 career shutouts, breaking the mark of 12 set by both Pearce and David Brown `07. Summerhays will take a career-best shutout streak of 190:19 into the game with Boston College. The Notre Dame record is 193:27 and set by David Brown in the 2003-04 season. For his almost two complete game shutouts, Summerhays was named the Hockey East co-defensive player of the week, the third time this season that he has captured that honor.
Summerhays on his streak heading into the game at Boston College this Saturday:
"I couldn't tell you what the numbers are," says Summerhays.
"I know the last time we gave up a goal was in the third period against Providence. They said last night on the radio show that we were near 200 minutes. I just try to face one shot at a time and not over analyze everything. We have gotten scored on with the first shot this year and then bounced back to win. If we give up a goal early, you have to forget about it and not give up any more. No matter what adversity you face, you have to be ready to play the entire 60-minute game."
HOCKEY HUMANITARIAN AWARD
As everyone knows, senior goaltender Joe Rogers is one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award that is presented annually to college hockey's "top citizen." On Saturday, Feb. 22, Rogers was honored for his accomplishment in the second intermission in front of a sellout crowd at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
On behalf of the BNY Mellon Wealth Management group, sponsors of the award, Mr. Paul Shaheen, a member of the board of directors was on hand to present a check for $250 in Rogers' name to a charity of his choice.
One of the groups that Rogers works with - the River City Sled Rovers - a sled hockey team in the South Bend/Mishawaka area - was selected by Rogers to receive the check.
Shaheen presented the check to Rogers who turned it over to the Sled Rovers who were represented by their founder Jay Lewis and three players - Sarah Lewis, K.J. Anderson and Shay Anderson.
The winner of the Hockey Humanitarian Award will be named on April 11th in Philadelphia at the Frozen Four.
Congratulations Joe on this tremendous honor!!!!