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Notre Dame eager for rematch with No. 1 Denver

| Thursday, October 12, 2017

This Friday and Saturday, the Irish will welcome the reigning champion Denver Pioneers to Compton Family Ice Arena for a two-game series. Denver comes in ranked No. 1 in the country and will prove a tough test for the No. 4 Irish. The Pioneers ended Notre Dame’s season last year with a 6-1 win at the Frozen Four in Chicago. Irish senior forward and captain Jake Evans said he’s ready to turn the page on last year’s loss.

Irish senior forward Jake Evans carries the puck up the ice during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Providence on March 11.Observer File Photo
Irish senior forward Jake Evans carries the puck up the ice during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Providence on March 11.

“There’s last year’s team and this year’s team. We’ve got some new strengths and some new depth. Last year we kind of got caught in the moment, this year we’re playing the No. 1 team, not looking to get caught in the moment,” Evans said. “We’re looking to play our game and really dictate play.”

Denver will provide the Irish with a great opportunity to see how far they have come as a unit since the beginning of practices about two weeks ago. This is the first chance to face top-ten competition this season and the Irish (2-0-0), including senior forward Bo Brauer, are excited for the opportunity.

“We’re really excited about it,” Brauer said. “The boys got fired up about it when we saw them on the schedule in the second week of the regular season. I think our team’s ready to go. We’re excited to have the opportunity to play them again.”

The team has a number of things it’s looking to learn in this early season series, one of the most important being its goaltending situation. Freshman Dylan St. Cyr and sophomore Cale Morris have been sharing time so far this season, and Irish head coach Jeff Jackson says this will continue as the team keeps playing non-conference games.

“My intention going into the start of the season in the out-of-conference games is to play both of them,” Jackson said. “Dylan had a good game on Saturday, but I thought Cale played well too. We need to evaluate for another three weeks here throughout our out of conference games. I don’t know if I’ll keep the same weekend routine, but I’ll see which guy has any coherence by Friday after midterms week.”

Beyond the goaltender situation, the team is looking to adjust to life without three of its key forwards. Junior forward Dylan Malmquist, freshman forward Pierce Crawford and senior forward Dawson Cook are all out this weekend with injuries. Jackson will look to shuffle things around and find a lineup that works without these key players.

“It’s causing me to adjust our lines so we have a little more depth on our third and fourth lines. You have to be careful because you don’t want to take away any chance of generating offense. We’re going to have to switch guys around,” Jackson said. “The tough thing is all three of those guys play left wing, so some guys further down the depth chart will get a chance, since we’ll have to compensate for all three of those guys being out.”

The Irish will look to overcome their injuries and put together a strong performance against a great Denver team. Jackson has some pre-laid-out goals in advance of the weekend.

“It’s important we play well. We need to dictate to them more than we played them last time. They dictated to us last time,” he said. “We need to get off to a much better start. We need to come out well and sustain it for 60 minutes.”

The No. 4 Irish will take on the No. 1 Pioneers in a rematch of last year’s Frozen Four semifinal on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday at 6:05 p.m. at Compton Family Ice Arena.

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