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Hockey

Irish to take on Lake Superior State

| Thursday, October 16, 2014

After a tough opening weekend, Notre Dame looks to get back on track at home against Lake Superior State. The Irish will face the Lakers on Friday and Saturday night.

Irish senior defenseman Robbie Russo handles the puck while moving up ice Oct. 10 against Rensselaer at Compton Family Ice Arena. Rensselaer won 3-2.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior defenseman Robbie Russo handles the puck while moving up ice Oct. 10 against Rensselaer at Compton Family Ice Arena. Rensselaer won 3-2.

Notre Dame (0-2) is coming off a disappointing showing at the Ice Breaker Tournament where they lost to Rensselaer 3-2 and were shut out by Minnesota Duluth, 3-0. Irish coach Jeff Jackson said the team’s ability to bounce back after the poor start begins with him.

“It’s more about the response from me,” Jackson said. “I have to make sure that every player is paying attention to detail and the things that we’re trying to improve on. It’s almost like coming in cold, coaching a whole new team. Even the older guys are in different roles now, and they don’t know how to respond to it all the time when we get into the games.”

The Irish have 10 newcomers on the team, and Jackson said inexperience was a factor during the opening weekend. The key to finding traction, then, is improving as a collective unit.

“I think it’s the whole team as a group that has to respond,” Jackson said. “Regardless of whether we’re young or not, we’re trying to put the guys in position to succeed. We’re focused on just taking care of the puck a bit better, and when we do give it up, we have to have more urgency to get pucks back.”

The Irish have two more weekend doubleheaders before their first conference series against Vermont. Jackson said the Irish have avoided panicking and are focused on improving every day in practice. He hopes many of the team’s struggles will disappear as the team gets more familiar with each other.

“We got a lot accomplished in practice, which was an improvement from last week,” Jackson said. “The guys have been good, and we’ve been focused on the things we want to improve on. It’s not like they’re not working hard, but they’re not working smart. They’ve got to combine the two. They’ve got to cover for each other and just get used to each other so they develop some chemistry.”

Jackson said one major area of emphasis for the Irish is on the power play. Notre Dame struggled tremendously at the Ice Breaker tournament, failing to score on 11 tries with an extra man. The Irish failed to threaten even on the advantage, unleashing only six shots on power plays for the entire weekend.

“The power play unit certainly needs to do a better job,” Jackson said. “We’ve been spending more time on it, and the personnel is probably right for the most part. I’ve got to see if some chemistry can develop with certain guys. … It’s more a matter of execution.”

Meanwhile, Lake Superior State (0-4, 0-2 WCHA) is off to its own rough start. The Lakers opened the year with consecutive conference losses to Michigan Tech before Robert Morris handed the Lakers two more defeats last weekend. The team have been outscored 16-5 on the season. Its matchup with Notre Dame is its last series before 10 consecutive conference contests.

Despite the Lakers’ defensive struggles, Jackson said the Irish have to be patient on offense and not feel pressured to produce.

“The guys that expect to score, when it doesn’t happen and they don’t get points, it weighs on them,” Jackson said. “Sometimes the way they respond is not good in the fact that they start cheating defensively or taking shortcuts. Offense comes from defense for the most part. So we’ve just got to get back and be patient.”

Jackson said goalie duties again would be split between sophomore Chad Katunar and freshman Cal Petersen. Each made 26 saves and surrendered three goals in last weekend’s action.

The Irish and Lakers open their series Friday at 7:35 p.m. Saturday action gets underway at 6:05 p.m. Both games will be at Compton Family Ice Arena and, like all Notre Dame home games, will air on NBC Sports Network.

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About Josh Dulany

Originally from Texas, I grew up overseas and attended high school in Ethiopia. I have always followed sports intently and enjoy watching and playing practically any sport. I am double majoring in Marketing and FTT.

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