The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Hockey: Seeking vengeance

Chris Allen | Friday, January 21, 2011

Notre Dame returns to the place where its 2009-10 campaign came to a bitter end when it travels to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to take on Ohio State.

Though a large portion of the Irish roster is made up of freshmen, the more experienced players on Irish coach Jeff Jackson’s squad have not forgotten the disappointing sweep at the hands of Ohio State in the first round of the CCHA playoffs, including an 8-1 blowout in the final game.

“You can’t forget that — that’s the team that knocked us out last year,” senior wing Calle Ridderwall said. “They ended our season, which is something I’ve hoped a lot of guys who were here last year have in the back of their heads. It’s definitely a big series for us.”

The No. 8 Irish (15-8-3, 12-5-1-1 CCHA) have been a program on the upswing since the Buckeyes swept them out of the CCHA playoffs last March. A host of freshmen and the spectacular play of the team’s four seniors have led the team to notch 38 points in the CCHA standings — one point ahead of Michigan for the top spot in the conference.

The Buckeyes (12-9-2, 7-7-2-2 CCHA) rank seventh in the conference, but are riding a stretch of strong play heading into the series with the Irish. The team defeated Miami of Ohio twice during a recent home series. Jackson said the Buckeyes pose a strong test despite their middling position in the standings.

“They’re one of the one of the hottest teams in our conference,” Jackson said. “They’re going to be a formidable opponent for everybody in the last part of the season. Knocking off Miami twice is pretty impressive.”

The Buckeyes feature a deep and experienced group of forwards that have been putting up huge statistics all season. John Albert, who averages more than a point per game, and senior forward Sergio Somma have been leading the scoring attack for Ohio State and pose a challenge for Jackson’s defense.

“[Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki has] got his team playing well now and playing the way he wants them to play,” Jackson said. “It certainly looks like they’ve bought in. They play a pressure system. They’re a very aggressive team.”

Senior captain and defenseman Joe Lavin said he believed the team is ready to counter Ohio State’s experienced offense.

“I think we’re pretty excited and pretty set with what we need to do against Ohio State,” he said. “I think we just need to be prepared for those guys — a lot of their seniors are having good years.”

The teams will face off in a two-game series with the first game beginning Friday night at 7:05 p.m., and the second taking place on Saturday at the same time.