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March 13, 2014

Shipping back to Boston

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Over the next two weeks Notre Dame hopes to be a regular around Boston.

After winning their single elimination first round game in the Hockey East tournament last weekend, the Irish will catch a flight today bound for No. 2 Boston College and a best-of-three quarterfinal series at the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill starting Friday night.

Two weeks ago they made the same trip and came out with a 2-1 overtime win, freshman forward Vince Hinostroza scoring the game-winning goal.

"They're gonna be geared up for us," head coach Jeff Jackson said. "Let's face facts: We just beat them in the last game of the regular season. It was Senior Night. That game was important for us regardless, so it doesn't really matter. All we can worry about is focus on Friday night."

Including that win at Conte a couple weeks ago, No. 11 Notre Dame (21-12-2) is 6-0-1 in its last seven with five consecutive victories, tying its best streak this season. It opened the year with five straight as well.

Boston College (25-5-4) on the other hand has lost just once since the end of November. The Eagles had a first round bye last week, so it will begin the league tournament against the only team to hand it a setback since Christmas.

Jackson expects a matchup more similar to the overtime game than the 4-3 Irish loss at Fenway Park on Jan. 4.

"The game at Fenway was a little bit more up and down for some reason," Jackson said. "We didn't change the way we played. We haven't changed anything since Fenway. We're just playing better. The thing is they have a great ability to get up the ice, spread the ice out in transition with their speed and their skill. What happens is you end up getting on your heels too much."

Notre Dame played a tighter game last time out and held one of the most punishing lines in college hockey to no points at even strength.

Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold have combined for 64 goals and 159 points this season. Gaudreau scored the lone Boston College goal last game, a power-play marker at 1:31 of the third period that eventually forced overtime.

"I think try to treat them like any other group," defenseman Andy Ryan said. "I don't know if I'll be playing the top line. I might be out there a little bit. But I think you just kind of try to do the same thing against any other top line. Especially because all their forwards can be dangerous and we know that. Obviously, you've got to really bear down and focus on them for sure because that's the key to their team but don't change anything technical-wise or anything."

Gerths back on track

Forward David Gerths practiced Wednesday without a red jersey denoting no contact, a sign of progress after missing the last three weeks with an upper body injury.

Jackson is optimistic about his chances of being available against Boston College but is unsure how the juggle the lineup. Freshman Ali Thomas has filled in for Gerths the last couple weeks. Swapping them could have a chain reaction.

"There's a chance we'll have Gerths back this weekend too so I'm not sure exactly how that's going to impact other guys," Jackson said. "Ali's a guy that took over moving DiPauli to center. I don't know."

Roque out at LSSU

Lake Superior State is moving on without head coach Jim Roque after announcing Tuesday it would not renew his contract.

Roque, who played for Lake Superior in the 80s, spent nine seasons as head coach of the Lakers. He previously served as an assistant to Jackson during his tenure as head coach in Sault Ste. Marie, so their connections run deep.

"I feel bad for Jimmy," Jackson said. "He was my first assistant when I was up there. He was an assistant with me when I first got up there, so I feel bad for him. It's a tough situation. Their overall budget maybe a third of what most teams is. That's hard to operate. It's a small school and it's got a pretty rich tradition in hockey. He's done a pretty good job there with the recruiting and everything else. I was always worried about how they'd move forward there with the direction college hockey was going."

Roque compiled a 136-165-46 record at Lake Superior and went 16-19-1 this season.

Lee starts fast in NHL call up

Former Irish captain Anders Lee has been making the most of his most recent stint in the NHL.

Since being called up Feb. 27, the power forward has five goals and two assists for the New York Islanders in seven games. He scored twice in his first game back, a 5-4 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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