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Hockey: Maday anchors Irish during rough stretch

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February has not gone according to plan for Notre Dame, as it has scored just six goals over six games and lost its last five contests in the month. In the face of adversity, though, the team has been able to turn to senior captain Billy Maday as the team’s rock, keeping the young Irish squad on track to achieve its goals.

Maday has been one of Notre Dame’s elite players throughout his entire career, but he has preferred to let his play doing the talking. Over the course of the season, the right winger has gradually evolved into his role as captain.

“It’s been a big learning experience for me,” Maday said. “Being able to wear a letter has been a tremendous honor for me. I’ve been learning throughout the year, what works and what doesn’t, and I put a lot of responsibility on myself to lead guys in the right direction. It’s had a lot of impact on me, and I want to see this team do well.”

On the ice, Maday has been a bright spot in an Irish offense that has had a tough time finding the net. He ranks among the team’s top five in goals, assists, points and power play goals, and his five-on-three tally was the only goal Notre Dame managed all weekend. According to his teammates, Maday is one of the squad’s elite players in all facets of the game.

“He does all of the little things,” sophomore center David Gerths said. “He’s always the one that’s prepared to play, prepared for any situation. He always works as hard as he can. He takes the body, he makes smart plays with the puck and stuff like that. But he also plays a bigger role. He’s the guy we want to put out on the ice.”

But for all he does on the ice, Maday may not make his most important contribution to the team until he gets back into the locker room. While he may not be the most vocal leader, Maday is always a willing sounding board and source of advice for the team’s 17 underclassmen.

“Billy’s great on the ice, but as good as he is on the ice, he’s an even better guy off the ice,” Gerths said. “He’s a great captain and a great leader. He’s one of those guys that you don’t have any problems going to talk to him about problems that you’re having on the ice, or in the classrooms, or just in general. He’s a great friend, great teammate and great person.”

The recent losing streak has put the Irish in a bind, as they still have a lot of work to do if they want to have home court advantage in the CCHA playoffs and make the 16-team NCAA tournament field. The approaching end of the regular season has cranked up the pressure on Notre Dame as it searches for crucial points, which has forced Maday to adapt his leadership style in order to keep the team steady.

“I’ve definitely tried to lead by example through a time like this, but you’ve got to be a little more vocal because guys are trying to listen a little more,” Maday said. “I’ve kind of added that to my leadership repertoire. I’m not known for being a vocal leader, but I’ve been trying to do that a little more. The guys are listening, and I really, truly believe we’ll work our way out of this.”

After four years in a Notre Dame uniform, Maday and his classmates will play their last regular season series this weekend against Michigan State. It wouldn’t seem that the team would need any extra motivation for such a huge series, but the Irish plan on bringing a little more to send Maday and the rest of their seniors out in style.

“As an underclassmen, [senior day] is just as important for us,” Gerths said. “It’s a great way to honor the seniors, to get a win and to work as hard as you can to give that to them, just as a small payment for how much they’ve done for us.”

And if the Irish find themselves needing to fight back again on senior night, the rock of the team will be there once again.

“I think it’s up to me as a leader,” Maday said. “If I don’t stay poised and confident and keep hope for the rest of the year, I don’t know how the rest of our team can. So I’ll do the best I can. I’m really excited about this weekend, and I think the rest of the team is, too.”


Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu