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Hockey: On the road again

Chris Allen | Friday, December 3, 2010

Fresh off a difficult trip to North Dakota, where the young No. 12 Irish lost Friday and fought back to salvage a tie Saturday, Notre Dame will continue its “Murderer’s Row” schedule with a weekend series against No. 6 Miami (Ohio) in Oxford.

“It’s going to be very similar circumstances. We have to be better Friday,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said. “That’s the key. We weren’t as good as we should have been Friday night. I think our team was, to some degree, awestruck by the facilities and just the overall environment of that building.

“Hopefully going into this weekend, Friday night, we’ll be better prepared to do well. On the road, when you’re playing two games on the road, Friday night is always the night that you have a better opportunity to be successful.”

Notre Dame (9-4-2, 7-2-1-1) has gotten off to a strong start this season and trails Miami (9-4-3, 7-3-2-1) by one point in the CCHA standings.

After the loss to North Dakota, the Irish are now 2-2 in their last four Friday night games.

“We’ve had a history in the past of being pretty good on Friday nights, but this year hasn’t been as positive,” Jackson said. “I’m hoping that we will hopefully get better.”

The Irish have lost six straight to Miami, including 1-0 and 4-0 defeats last season, but this year’s team will attempt to break the streak in the increasingly energized CCHA rivalry.

“They’re a great team. If we’re going to be a great program, we have to have natural rivalries with teams that are competing to be at the top. Miami is one of them,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot easier to develop those rivalries when you’re playing a team four times a year, which we will this year with Miami.”

The young Irish team enjoyed a nice week off the ice, as sophomore center Riley Sheahan was invited to the Canada World Junior Championship selection tryout and freshman center T.J. Tynan was named the CCHA Rookie of the Month for November. The young core that includes Tynan and Sheahan has Jackson optimistic that his team willl be able to compete with the balance of the nation’s top programs.

“[Miami is] a great program to emulate. Similar to Boston College and some of the other top programs, they build the team through real solid recruiting, nice balance of skill guys and gritty guys,” Jackson said. “That’s where we’re trying to get to. They have good balance up and down their lineup.

They’re probably as good a team as we just played. North Dakota and Miami, to me, on paper, should be two of the best teams in the country.”

The Redhawks are led by a strong trio of forwards that includes seniors Carter Camper and Andy Miele and sophomore Reilly Smith. Camper leads Miami with 32 points on the season.

“They’ve got three of the best forwards, and they’re much deeper than that,” Jackson said. “Camper is a character guy. Smith’s really come into his own this year. They’re deeper than that even.”

The puck will drop on the first game of the series at Steve Cady Arena at 7:35 p.m. on Friday, and the teams will play again at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.