Mario Lucia is rediscovering his goal-scoring form as the Notre Dame hockey team continues to streak up the Hockey East standings.
Lucia scored three goals for the Irish in two victories at New Hampshire, including a hat trick in Friday’s 5-1 win. He scored the game-winning goal Saturday as the Irish snatched a 3-2 decision to complete the sweep.
Notre Dame, ranked No. 13 in the national polls, are in a tied with Boston College for second place in the league standings on 22 points. Lowell sits first with 23 points in 16 games. Notre Dame (13) and Boston College (14) have played less league games to this point.
Lucia now has six goals in the last six games after scoring just three in the first 19.
“All of a sudden he has started to come on,” head coach Jeff Jackson told UND.com. “That’s only going to make us a better hockey team because historically he’s been a 20-goal scorer. In the last three weeks he’s started to show that scoring touch.”
Connor Hurley opened the Notre Dame scoring Friday in what turned out into a resounding win. Lucia assisted, starting a three-point night.
Lucia then scored his first goal of the weekend at 6:42 of the first to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. Anders Bjork scored a power-play goal at 8:39 of the second and Lucia added another at 11:47 to make it 4-0.
Ara Nazarian finally solved Irish goalie Cal Petersen at 19:59 of the second when the officials awarded a penalty shot. Petersen made eight more saves in the third period for 25 total.
Sam Herr added a goal in the third period for the 5-1 final.
Notre Dame (14-4-7, 10-1-2 Hockey East) scored first again Saturday as Thomas DiPauli struck on the power play at 11:46 of the first period. Jake Evans made it 2-0 just 25 seconds into the second period, also with the man advantage.
But New Hampshire (8-12-4, 2-6-4 Hockey East) didn’t go away so quietly this time.
Andrew Poturalski beat Petersen for his 19th goal of the season at 13:43 of the second to finish off a power play. Harry Quast then tied the game 2-2 with a goal at 19:01.
New Hampshire had five power plays during the second period and eight total, scoring just once.
“Our penalty kill was great this weekend and a lot of that has to do with our goaltender,” Jackson said. “But our defensemen who kill have done a really good job, especially against such a great power play so I have to give our guys credit.”
Petersen made 10 saves in the second period and 22 total.
Lucia broke the 2-2 tie at 11:45 of the third period. He broke in on Wildcats goalie Jamie Regan, who turned away the initial shot. But Lucia poked home the rebound while falling down for the game winner.
“This group has shown some resiliency so we just refocused after the second period, which was a frustrating period,” Jackson said. “It was about getting back on track and playing five-on-five hockey.”
Notre Dame is 9-0-3 in its last 12 games, the fifth longest unbeaten streak in program history.