Matt Cashore / Irishillustrated.om

Irish explode in Merrimack sweep

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Goals came fast and furious for the Notre Dame hockey team in a series sweep of Merrimack. The Irish now ride a 10-game unbeaten streak, the sixth longest in program history.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Goals continue to flow for the home team at Compton Family Ice Arena.

No. 13 Notre Dame bagged a 7-2 victory Friday followed by a 5-1 win Saturday in the series finale to sweep Merrimack in a Hockey East matchup. The Irish are now unbeaten (7-0-3) in their last 10 games, which is the sixth longest stretch without a loss in program history.

They’ve seen their offense roar to life as part of this run with 24 goals in their last four games at home. Twice they’ve scored seven in a game.

“A lot of things have been going pretty positive for us,” head coach Jeff Jackson said. “The thing I’m happy about is we’ve got a lot of guys that are executing what we wanna try to do. It’s leading to scoring chances, leading to goals. Most of it is transitional but we’ve been doing a nice job with some offensive zone grind time, which the best teams we’ve had here have always been good in the (offensive) zone. We’re starting to show a bit more patience there.”

Notre Dame burst from the starting gates Friday with seven goals for a second straight home game.

Anders Bjork scored a power-play goal at 3:42 of the first period, staking the Irish to a 1-0 lead. Merrimack answered in short order when Hampus Gustafsson shot from a sharp angle and the puck clattered in behind Petersen.

But the tie was short lived as Mario Lucia scored his second goal in three games to give Notre Dame a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. Lucia added an assist later, reaching 100 points for his college career on 54 goals and 46 assists.

Lucia is the 49th player in program history to reach the 100-point mark.

“It’s cool, definitely,” Lucia said. “But I obviously wouldn’t be there without my line mates like (T.J. Tynan) and Vinnie (Hinostroza), obviously big contributors to that. It’s definitely an accomplishment and I’m definitely proud but I wouldn’t be there without my teammates.”

Freshman Andrew Oglevie broke the game open with a pair of goals in the second period, his first multi-goal outing. Oglevie made it 3-1 at 7:39 after receiving the puck with speed and stick handling past Merrimack forward Ben Bahe during a one-on-one break.

Oglevie scored again at 13:34 when defenseman Bobby Nardella lobbed a pass over the defense, springing a one-man breakaway.

“He’s been probably more of a playmaker than he has been a goal scorer,” Jackson said. “He’s mostly been a center too, just like (Dylan) Malmquist. It’s almost like having three centers out there but they’re all smart and they all have good puck skills and they all skate well. I’m sure Steven Fogarty is excited to play with the two young guys because they’re both very smart players and they have the skills.”

Merrimack scored again before the second period ended through Jared Kolquist before Notre Dame really broke it open.

Gross scored his seventh goal of the season at 6:55 of the third to make it 5-2. Nardella added another at 14:25 and Evans scored on the power play at 15:19 for a 7-2 final. Bjork, Gross and Nardella finished with one goal and two assists a piece. Oglevie added an assist to his pair of goals.

Petersen made 24 saves, including 13 in the first period. Walk-on goalie Nick Stasack made one save in just over four minutes at the end of the third period.

“I think it’s about our depth,” Jackson said. “That we’ve got three lines, actually four lines that can score. But that was a close game for quite awhile. I think we opened it up when we scored that fifth one. Some guys are getting confidence.”

Sam Herr scored the first of two goals 5:26 into the game Saturday to get the offense going all over again. He added the final tally late in the third period for the 5-1 final.

Between Herr’s goals the Irish put together another strong offensive output. Nardella scored a power-play goal at 1:18 of the second period and Lucia added another at 8:07 to make it a 3-0 lead. Bjork assisted on the Nardella goal, extending his point streak to eight games.

He scored a goal of his own at 10:52 of the third period and assisted on Herr’s final goal for a three-point night. Bjork has six goals and six assists during his personal streak.

“I think it’s a little bit of luck and a lot of my line mates making good plays,” Bjork said, “and me just being in the right spot. I think that other guys playing well has helped me a lot. All the credit goes to them mainly. But I guess we’re all just focused mainly on winning games. Whatever is gonna do that, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Petersen allowed the a single goal at 9:33 of the third period, although it proved inconsequential. He finished with 16 saves total while facing just four shots in each of the first two periods.

Notre Dame peppered Merrimack goaltender Collin Delia with 45 shots and dominated puck possession thanks to 33 wins in the face off circle against just 17 losses. Center Jake Evans went 9-1 at the dot alone.

“We’ve had some inconsistencies,” Jackson said. “Jake Evans has probably been our most consistent guy. But when Connor Hurley and Fogarty, when those guys are really bearing down, and really it’s a collective effort. Centers are partially responsible, they get credit for it, but in the defensive zone it’s five guys gaining possession of the puck. In the offensive zone it’s tougher. You’ve got three guys basically versus five. Centers are probably more responsible to win a draw in that situation.”


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