Irish prep for future NHL talent

Notre Dame will have its hands full this weekend with a road series at No. 2 Boston University, which features Jack Eichel, the nation’s leading scorer and potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Jeff Jackson has a pretty good idea what the Notre Dame hockey team will be getting into this weekend when Jack Eichel hits the ice.

The Boston University freshman center leads the nation with 47 points on 16 goals and 31 assists. He’s one of a couple players — alongside Ontario Hockey League center Connor McDavid — being mentioned for top overall selection in the coming NHL Draft.

The Irish are the latest to get a chance to slow Eichel as Notre Dame heads to Boston for a two-game series against the Hockey East leaders.

“I’ve watched him,” Jackson said. “I actually spoke to him. We actually reached out to him in the early stages of recruiting. It was obvious he was gonna go back out east. I admire the kid because he made a commitment to BU early. BU had a tough year last year and he could’ve easily opted out. He stuck by his commitment and he’s had a great year. It certainly hasn’t had any type of negative impact on his draft status. I admire him for that. He’s a character kid and he’s got a lot of ability.”

Eichel headlines one of the most potent offenses in college hockey.

Boston University (19-5-4) is second nationally with 3.75 goals per game. It’s also second on the power play, connecting at a 25 percent rate. Both those numbers go up in Hockey East play, where the Terriers are averaging 4.06 goals per game and hitting at 26.8 percent with the man advantage.

Converted defenseman Ahti Oksanen leads BU with 19 goals. Evan Rodrigues is second on the team and third nationally with 42 points, 13 of which have come on goals. Danny O’Regan has 18 goals and 16 assists.

Notre Dame, by contrast, has just two players with more than 10 goals in Mario Lucia (18) and Robbie Russo (12). Vince Hinostroza (33) is the only Irish player over 30 points.

“I think they’re playing the same as we saw a year ago at this time as far as their system goes,” Jackson said. “They’re much more dangerous on transition. They’re really awesome on the power play. They’re real good down low in the offensive zone. They have a lot of weapons offensively.”

One of the most difficult things Notre Dame (13-15-4) might have to do during the series is not focus too much on Eichel.

“That’s a hard question just because a guy like that, you have to be so aware on the ice,” defenseman Eric Johnson said. “When you’re out there with him you have to be aware. You have to respect him but you can’t play him lightly. You have to be aggressive on him. I think it’s just everyone doing their job.

“If you’re a forward on the point coverage, make sure you have your d-man. If you’re a center down low or a defenseman, just play your guy strong and hard and assertive.”

Wuthrich ‘day to day’

Notre Dame might be without winger Austin Wuthrich for the Boston University series.

Wuthrich suffered an upper body injury last Friday against Providence, missing the next night. He’s practiced some this week but it’s unclear whether that means ice time in games.

“We’ve gotta judge that,” Jackson said. “With Austin it’s probably more day-to-day than it is with (Steven) Fogarty.”

Fogarty remains sidelined with a hand injury.

Petersen collects another award

Hockey East named goaltender Cal Petersen its defensive player of the week for the second straight time.

Petersen made 38 saves in a 2-0 shutout win over Providence last Friday and followed up that performance with 32 more saves the next night in a 3-2 loss. Prior to allowing the first goal Saturday, Petersen had not allowed one in the previous 137 minutes and 53 seconds of game time.


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