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Hockey: Amado makes a mark for squad as a senior

Kyle Cassily | Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Matt Amado has been one of Notre Dame’s top scoring threats throughout his career, but only this season has the senior forward truly become a force to be reckoned with on the ice.

Amado has already scored seven goals in 12 games this season, compared to five goals in 31 games during the 2004-05 campaign. He notched two of his tallies last weekend against Ohio State, scoring a goal in each of the back-to-back home games.

“Maybe in the past I haven’t performed as well as I should have, and now I am,” Amado said of his recent touch. “So it’s all coming together. It’s nice to see.”

Although Amado is fourth in points for Notre Dame with nine, he is tied for the lead in goals with Josh Sciba and boasts a +2 plus/minus rating – one of only seven Irish players with a positive ranking.

Irish head coach Jeff Jackson has worked with Amado to fine-tune certain aspects of his game in the hope that Amado will reach the 20-goal plateau for the season and average one point a game.

“I’m kind of on pace to do both,” Amado said. “I started off a little slow the first couple games, so I think if things keep on going the way they will, I’ll reach those goals. Then hopefully I can do something after this year with hockey, either in Europe or North America.”

The 5-foot-11, 197 lb. leftwinger is undrafted but has serious aspirations to reach the pro level. When the time comes to take that next step, he feels his time spent under Jackson will pay off in his play.

At the same time, it hasn’t been easy for Amado to adjust to a new coach with a new style in his last year with the Irish.

“It’s a tough transition,” he said. “We go from a coach [Dave Poulin] who was a lot more laid back and supposedly more of a pro-style coach where you can do your own thing. Coach Jackson is a lot more into discipline and accountability and overall work ethic, big-time sacrifice.”

Despite the big changes, one thing remains the same – his wingman. Amado has been paired with right wing Tim Wallace for most of this season, and the duo has been explosive. Wallace currently leads the team in points with 11 (five goals, six assists).

Amado describes Wallace as the bigger, more physical guy that’s not afraid to get dirty, while he is more adept at finishing with a solid shot and setting up teammates.

“Me and Timmy have played together all the time pretty much from day one,” he said. “Being back with him, it’s good. We get along off the ice, [and] we hang out a lot. We’re not really total opposites, but were different enough that we help each other out and bring something different.”

Wallace and Amado have seen two centers shore up the middle of their line, first Mark Van Guilder and now junior captain T.J. Jindra. But no matter who lines up to take the faceoff between the two, Amado has one goal for the team in sight – the NCAA tournament.

“Ultimately, your goal is to always win an NCAA championship, but that might not always be totally feasible,” Amado said. “Our goal is to get to the tournament and see what we can do from there.”

That may seem like a tall order in the midst of Notre Dame’s current four-game winless skid, including two losses to Ohio State and a loss and a tie to Miami University on back-to-back weekends, but Amado knows what it takes to make the national stage.

In his sophomore season, Amado was an integral part of the 2003 Notre Dame NCAA Tournament berth that resulted in a loss to Minnesota in the first round, and he recalls vividly the excitement of playing in big rinks with big crowds.

“[It was] just a totally different atmosphere,” he said. “Thee fans were awesome.”

To get to the tournament this year, Notre Dame has a long road ahead, but the early season woes against nationally ranked teams will give way to a much lighter schedule, beginning this weekend against Western Michigan.

“It’s been a battle, but our schedule is going to get easier,” Amado said. “We’re going to be on the road a little more, but I think that’s fine.

“[You] just hope we keep plugging away, working your butt off and see where it goes.”

Whether Notre Dame goes all the way to a NCAA tournament berth or ends in an early CCHA tournament loss, Amado is optimistic about the program’s future.

“I think [Jackson] is going to build something here that’s going to attract a lot of good players in the future,” he said. “In three, four, five years, I hope there’s a new building here so I can come back and say I kind of turned the program around to the point where we could be a legitimate hockey team in the country.”