2010-11: Cal Petersen skated for the Chicago Young Americans U18 team in the Midwest Elite Hockey League. In 24 games he had a 2.30 goals against and .923 save percentage. A native of Waterloo, IA, he was drafted by the hometown Black Hawks in the 13th round (185th overall) of the 2011 USHL Entry Draft.
2011-12: Petersen made his USHL debut, appearing in five games for Waterloo, while also playing in the NAHL with the Topeka Roadrunners and skating for the Young Americans U18 team. Petersen was 3-1 with a 2.94 goals against and .902 save percentage in his stint with Waterloo. In two March games with Topeka, both of which went into overtime, he was 1-1 with a 1.86 goals against and .925 save percentage. He played 12 U18 games for Chicago and had a 3.09 goals against an .895 save percentage. Petersen appeared in one game for the USA at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August, stopping 8 of 11 shots in 20 minutes of action in the USA’s 6-5 shootout win over Slovakia, as Jon Gillies handled the bulk of the goaltending. The USA was 3-1 in the tournament but finished fifth due to a pair of overtime games.
2012-13: Petersen split the goaltending for Waterloo with fellow 2013 NHL Draft hopeful Eamon McAdam, giving the Black Hawks one of the USHL’s top goaltending tandems. In 35 games he was 21-11-1 with 3 shutouts and had a 2.97 goals against and .906 save percentage. Petersen played in four of five playoff games and was 2-2 with a 4.26 goals against and .881 save percentage. In October 2012 he committed to playing college hockey at Notre Dame in 2014-15. Petersen was ranked fourth amongst North American goaltenders in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by Buffalo in the fifth round (129th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft.
2013-14: Petersen handled the bulk of the goaltending for Waterloo in his second USHL season. In 38 regular season games he was 27-7-4 with two shutouts and had a 2.50 goals against and .915 save percentage. Waterloo finished first in the Western Conference and lost to Eastern Conference champion Indiana in the Clark Cup finals. Petersen was 8-4 with a 2.37 goals against and .902 save percentage in 12 playoff games.
2014-15: Petersen stepped into the lineup for Notre Dame as a freshman — appearing in 33 of 42 games for the Fighting Irish. Petersen was 13-16-3 with a 2.51 goals against and .919 save percentage. Notre Dame finished fifth in Hockey East. Petersen set an NCAA record with 87 saves in Notre Dame’s 4-3 five overtime loss to Massachusetts-Amherst in the opening game of their first-round Hockey East playoff series. The Fighting Irish took fourth-place Massachusetts-Lowell to three games in the Hockey East quarterfinals, falling 6-4 in the decisive third game and finishing 18-19-5.
Petersen is a quick, athletic goalie who models his game after Tuukka Rask. He does not get scored on often down low because of his quick feet. He control’s rebounds well and catches with his right hand, which poses a challenge to shooters. His focus and stamina are both very good, which helps him cope with the physical and mental pressures of being an everyday starter.
Petersen had a very good freshman season with Notre Dame, being named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and posted a memorable record-breaking 87-save performance. That single performance indicated that Petersen maybe has some untapped upside, and if he continues his upward trajectory, has a chance to be a starting goaltender in the pros. The Sabres will not rush his development so he will stay in the NCAA for the 2015-16 season.