Notre Dame returns to action, will face Northeastern
Alex Bender | Thursday, November 10, 2016
Coming off a lengthy break from play, No. 9 Notre Dame will be hitting the road this weekend as it plays a pair of games at Northeastern.
After a hot start and two straight wins over Arizona State, the Irish (4-3-1, 1-1-0 Hockey East) have cooled down a bit as of late, having won just one of their last four games before getting last weekend off. Coming into this pair of contests against Northeastern, Irish head coach Jeff Jackson hopes his team competes better than last year when the Irish also faced the Huskies (3-3-3, 0-2-1 Hockey East) off of a bye week.
“I think we learned a lesson last year when we had the bye week before Northeastern,” said Jackson. “I don’t think we worked hard enough and competed hard enough in practice, and last week we practiced every day except for one and we gave them the weekend off, but we went hard for four days. The days we are practicing, we’re competing a lot more and we’re playing small games competitively, and we’ve had a couple of good weeks of practice so far, so we’ll be ready to play on Saturday.”
Last season, Notre Dame saw an early exit from the Hockey East playoffs at the hands of Northeastern when they lost back to back games at home. As such, this game means a little more to the team this time around, and junior forward and leading goal scorer Anders Bjork echoed this when commenting on the attitude in the locker room.
“It’s really exciting, especially given that last year they knocked us out of the Hockey East playoffs, so we’re kind of looking for some revenge here,” Bjork said. “It’s always fun when we play them. They battle hard, so we’re really excited to see what we can do.”
During just the past week, the Irish made some changes with the addition of former Notre Dame assistant and UMass head coach John Micheletto to the coaching staff. While he hasn’t been around the team for long, Jackson has already recognized his presence in his return to the program.
“I wasn’t around when he was here before, but I’ve known John for a number of years and got to develop a relationship with him in the time he’s been in Hockey East,” Jackson said. “He’s got a good hockey mind and a good background, and he has his input with our coaching staff. I think with his fresh approach it’s nice to have an outsider’s point of view, and there’s a lot of benefits. We’re still getting acclimated, but he’s fit in extremely well.”
Looking forward, this will prove to be a tough stretch for Notre Dame as they will have very little turn-around time after the games Saturday and Sunday before coming back home for a pair of games against No. 5 UMass-Lowell on Thursday and Friday. As such, Jackson realizes that the team will be facing a variety of challenges entering a pivotal point in the season.
“We’re going to have to show discipline in the way we play with the puck,” Jackson said. “We have to be smart in our approach, we’re going to have to show poise under pressure, and we will face pressure. This is going to be a challenge for us. We got knocked out of the Hockey East playoffs by these guys last year, so we’re going to have to go in there and do the same thing to them which is a tough task.
“We have to be a little pissed off about losing two games at home to them, and they’ve had our number, but the only we’re going to turn that around is we have to go out there and play and go after them.”