DU’s bid for national title must go through hot goalie Cal Peterson of Notre Dame.
Before practice Wednesday, the NCAA Frozen Four- bound Denver Pioneers got their first look at Notre Dame on film and the veterans were reminded why they couldn’t beat the Fighting Irish last season in a two- game series in Denver.
Goal tender Cal Peterson, a sophomore at the time, stopped 92- of- 95 DU shots in the 1- 1 and 2- 2 ties on Jan. 1- 2, 2016 at Magness Arena. The Pioneers outshot the Irish a combined 95- 52 but Peterson— a 2013 Buffalo Sabres draft pick— was the series MVP. “They came in here last year and he basically stole two ties,” DU senior center Matt Marcinew said of Peterson.
“They obviously have a good goaltender and we’ll have to find a way to beat him.”
Top- seeded Denver ( 31- 7- 4) plays Peterson and the Fighting Irish ( 23- 11- 5) next Thursday in the
second Frozen Four semifinal at Chicago’s United Center.
“We’ll have to get bodies in front of him so he can’t see the puck,” Pioneers senior defenseman Will Butcher said of Peterson. “If he sees the shots, they’ re probably not going in .”
Peterson has played every game for Notre Dame and his .929 save percentage is eighth nationally, just ahead of No. 9 Tanner Jaillet (. 928) of Denver. Peterson and Jaillet, who is also a junior, both have been the No. 1 guy for their teams since they were freshmen.
DU’s Jim Montgomery, who on Wednesday was named College Hockey News national coach of the year, got his first taste of NCAA coaching in 2005- 06 as a volunteer assistant at Notre Dame under Jeff Jackson, who is in his 12th season with the Irish. Jackson brought in Montgomery despite watching Montgomery score a natural third- period hat trick in Maine’s 1993 national championship victory over Jackson’s Lake Superior State Warriors.
“It’s really neat,” Montgomery, 47, said of his connection with the 61- year- old Jackson. “I wish it was the final, not the semifinal. But I owe a lot towhat I know and what I’ve been able to do inmy career to Jeff Jackson.”
About Jackson’s team, Montgomery said: “Very structured. Don’t beat themselves. Dynamic first line, especially the ( Anders) Bjork kid, and the goaltender can be all- world.”
The Avalanche will have two draft picks in the DU- Notre Dame game. Butcher was selected by Colorado with the 123 rd pick in 2013, and Irish freshman forward Cam Morrison was chosen by the-Avs with the 40th pick in 2016. … Denver practiced the last two days but will take Thursday off. The Pios depart for Chicago on Tuesday and will practice at the United Center on Wednesday, a day before the semifinals.