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Hockey: ND faces Friars in two-game set

Sam Werner | Thursday, October 15, 2009

Notre Dame will return to the ice Thursday night in a two-game series against Providence. The Irish started off the season last weekend with a split with Alabama-Huntsville.

“The older guys have to lead the way for the younger guys,” senior defenseman Kyle Lawson said after Saturday night’s win. “I think we did a lot better [Saturday], but we’ve got a lot to do still.”

Against the Chargers, freshman winger Kyle Palmieri made his presence felt early and often, scoring two goals on the weekend. Fellow rookie Riley Sheahan also lit the lamp in Friday night’s game.

The most successful aspect of Notre Dame’s play in the last series was its power play unit, which accounted for three of the team’s five goals on the weekend.

“I thought we did a pretty good job moving the puck [on the power play],” Jackson said after Friday night’s game. “Both units did a good job. I know we have one unit that was good last year, but I want two units that are good and can compete against each other.”

Jackson said he was also pleased with how his team was killing penalties.

“I’m really liking the way Benny Ryan and Danny Kissel are playing right now and they look like they’re becoming a good pair for penalty killing,” he said.

Jackson added that one of the strengths of this team is the leadership that comes from the players.

“We have enough veterans on this team, that they have to take responsibility in a number of ways when they go into that locker room or what they say on that bench,” he said. “We’ve built a culture to this point where their words have more meaning than mine.”

The Friars have only played one official game so far, a 2-1 win against Holy Cross. Providence went 7-22-5 last season, including a 4-1 loss to Notre Dame on Nov. 8.

The Friars’ two leading goal scorers from last season, sophomore left wing Matt Bergland and senior center John Cavanagh, return this season, and sophomore defenseman Daniel New already has two points on the season.

There may be some question, though, as to who will be facing the shots from the Friars attack. Junior Brad Phillips started Friday night’s game for the Irish, and senior Tommy O’Brien was between the pipes Saturday. Jackson said freshman Mike Johnson would get a start at goalie in one of the games against Providence.

Note:

uJackson said Saturday that senior right wing Christiaan Minella would miss Thursday night’s game as a punishment for the 10-minute misconduct he took for verbally abusing the officials Saturday night.

“I can abuse the officials,” Jackson joked. “They can’t.”