Hockey East Preview- Notre Dame Fighting Irish

By: Dan McLoone

Head Coach: Jenotre-dame-fighting-irish-34ff Jackson; 12th season

Last Season: 19-11-7 (15-5-2 in HE, 3rd); Lost in NCAA Round of 16 to Michigan

Losses: F Thomas DiPauli, F Steven Fogarty, F Sam Herr, F Mario Lucia, D Andy Ryan, G Nick Stasack

Newcomers: F Cal Burke, D Tory Dello, F Felix Holmberg, G Cale Morris, F Cam Morrison, F Luke Novak, F Mike O’Leary, D Andrew Peeke

After falling victim to the runaway train that was Northeastern in the Hockey East quarterfinals and falling to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame will begin one final season in Hockey East before moving to the Big Ten in 2017. Head coach Jeff Jackson will have his work cut out for him as he looks to replicate the success that led to a first-round bye in the Hockey East tournament.

The loss of senior forwards Thomas DiPauli, Steven Fogarty, Sam Herr and Mario Lucia will certainly sting, as the group represented four of the top six goal scorers for the Irish, including a team-high 14 for DiPauli. If he wants to see the Irish improve on the 3.11 points per game that they produced last year, Jackson will rely heavily on the continued improvement of juniors Anders Bjork (35 points) and Jake Evans (33 points), the team’s top two point scorers as sophomores. Junior Connor Hurley and sophomores Dylan Malmquist and Andrew Oglevie will also be expected to carry a larger load in the scoring department with another year of experience under their belts.

Incoming freshmen Cal Burke and Cam Morrison are most likely to contribute right away. Morrison was named USHL Rookie of the Year after netting 34 goals and 32 assists for the Youngstown Phantoms last season.

Notre Dame returns their two most prolific pieces on the blue line in junior Jordan Gross and sophomore Bobby Nardella. The two defensemen combined to tally 13 goals and 42 assists last season, and Nardella was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team.

Freshman Andrew Peeke, who was named a USHL All-Rookie First Team selection last year, is the big new addition for the Irish, adding his 6-3 frame to a fast and physical Notre Dame defense that finished atop Hockey East with an 88 percent penalty kill success rate.

The Fighting Irish return junior standout Cal Petersen between the pipes after he posted a .927 save percentage and 2.20 goals against average to keep pace with the top netminders in Hockey East. Incoming freshman Cale Morris will provide depth following the graduation of Nick Stasack, but the job is Petersen’s to lose.

Bottom Line: Jackson’s squad should be stout defensively behind a strong returning defense and Cal Petersen in net. The Irish lost a lot of talent up top, and Anders Bjork will have a lot of pressure on him to produce once again. Notre Dame has the talent to finish in the top half of Hockey East, but if they are too focused on their eventual move to the Big Ten, this could be a lost season for the Irish.

 

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