Irish down Chargers, fall at Fenway over break
Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Notre Dame returned this weekend from its winter break, ending a period of over a month where it played just one game, but the team kept plenty busy at the halfway point of its first season in Hockey East.
Irish junior right wing Austin Wuthrich skates during 2-2 tie against Merrimack on Nov. 16. Notre Dame went 2-1 over the winter break.
The Irish (12-8-1, 3-5-1) split their series with Massachusetts on December 6th and 7th, then had some time off for finals and Christmas, which many of the team’s athletes were able to spend with their families.
Two Irish forwards, however, took advantage of the break to travel to Malmo, Sweden to represent the United States in the IIHF World Junior Championships. Freshman Vince Hinostroza contributed five points in five games, while sophomore Thomas DiPauli added two points as one of the team’s primary penalty killers in its run to the quarterfinals.
Hinostroza and DiPauli returned just in time to join their teammates for Frozen Fenway, a Jan. 4 game against No. 6 Boston College at Boston’s Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. On a bitterly cold Saturday evening following that storm that dropped a foot of snow, well less than the paid attendance of 30,000-plus were on hand to watch the Eagles jump out to an early 2-0 lead. The then-No. 14 Irish bounced back with goals from senior forwards T.J. Tynan and Bryan Rust, but a third period rally from Boston College left Notre Dame down 4-3 in the dying seconds of the third period. Hinostroza appeared to jam a puck past the Eagles goaltender and the goal line as time expired, but a video review revealed that the equalizer came fractions of a second after the final buzzer.
“[Frozen Fenway] in itself was awesome,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. “I think the guys enjoyed it. … There was a good crowd and it was a great game with Boston College. I would have liked a different result. I thought we played well after the first ten minutes for the most part, so it was a good start to the second half for us. If we’d been able to win the game, it would have helped.”
The Irish built on the momentum gained against Boston College when they returned to South Bend to face Alabama-Huntsville the following weekend. Coming back from the winter break has been a problem for the Irish in past years, as the team won just one of their first seven games after the break last season. However, the Irish had no problem at all in dispatching the Chargers, sweeping the series with wins of 7-1 and 5-0.
Jackson credited the team’s strong showing after the break to a change in scheduling from previous years.
“We did try and do things a little bit different over the break this year,” he said. “We did keep the guys on the ice for a couple days after the UMass series before reading days and then we brought them back a few days earlier. … I think that the break was good for us in some ways to get guys healthy, and emotionally healthy too, not just physically.”
Now, the Irish will look to keep that momentum rolling as they move through the second half of their season. The team’s next opponent will be Lake Superior State, a former CCHA foe and Jackson’s former team, which will visit the Compton Family Ice Arena this weekend. The following weekend, Notre Dame will dive back into their challenging Hockey East schedule when they host No. 11 Northeastern.
The schedule will continue to ramp up, but Jackson hopes that these next games can spark even further momentum for his squad.
“Fortunately, we had these weeks off from Hockey East scheduling and had the chance to schedule some non-conference games, and Lake State is going to be a much better team than we faced in Alabama, so we’re going to have our hands full,” Jackson said. “Then we have Northeastern, one of the hottest teams in college hockey, who we’ve already played once and found out how tough they are… so were just getting guys reengaged and thinking about getting on some kind of a run here.”
Contact Jack Hefferon at firstname.lastname@example.org