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Hockey: Preseason ends with Waterloo

Kyle Cassily | Friday, October 14, 2005

Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson is still in the early stages of rebuilding a program that went through a 2004 season that all would like to forget, but he is satisfied with the progress already made.

The 2005 Irish will measure themselves against their first opponent of the year tonight as they take on the University of Waterloo Warriors in a preseason exhibition. Last Saturday, the Irish icers played a split-squad season kickoff scrimmage that ended in thrilling fashion with an extra overtime period and a shootout.

Jackson stressed that his team is playing to win the exhibition without doubt, but that the team is still coming together as a unit. He wants to see his team pick up on the strategies worked on in ice situations and on the chalkboard.

The up-tempo style that Jackson is trying to initiate in an Irish squad that produced limited offense last season will take some time to implement, but he has been optimistic about its early results.

One goal scored in the Blue-Gold game particularly impressed Jackson, giving him a glimpse into the quickness with which his new team is catching on.

“One goal was a face-off goal that we just talked about this morning, we never even practiced it,” he said. “They do retain things. That’s a real positive thing to pick things up off the chalkboard.”

Several freshmen gave a strong showing last week and got in on several goals. Erik Condra and Garrett Regan found the back of the net once apiece, and Condra got in on another with an assist. Christian Hanson contributed with an assist of his own.

But don’t expect Jackson to create a line of the future with these three young snipers – he wants to spread them amongst the older players to gain experience.

“There’s two things that we have to have. We have to have guys that think the game, cerebral players as I call them or players with a high hockey I.Q,” Jackson said.

“The other thing is competitiveness; they have to compete. That’s a huge factor to creating offense, you have to think the game, make good decisions with the puck, and guys have got to read off of each other. I think that that’s an important factor to us scoring goals this year and that’s a huge factor to the power play, the special teams.”

The Warriors are 2-1 in exhibition play so far this season. They knocked off the University of British Columbia 3-2 and the Guelph Gryphons 5-4 to take the Steel Blade Tournament Cup last week. The Rochester Institute of Technology took a 5-4 decision in its last game.

Junior Dave Brown will start in net for the Irish. Freshman Jordan Pierce will most likely substitute between the pipes for the second half.

“It’s still in the evaluation stage for me,” Jackson said of his plan to place players together for the future.

The Irish will take to the ice at 7:35 p.m. tonight, following the pep rally in Notre Dame Stadium.