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Notre Dame extends winning streak to 11 with Michigan State sweep

| Monday, December 4, 2017

This past weekend the third-ranked Irish travelled to East Lansing, Michigan to take on Michigan State in a two game series. Notre Dame (14-3-1, 8-0-0 Big Ten) went into the series riding a nine-game winning streak, including a 6-0 record in Big Ten contests, and extended both streaks, taking both games of the series behind strong play from its sophomore goaltender Cale Morris.

The Irish came out slow in their first game, registering just three shots on goal in the first period and giving up a first period goal. According to Irish head coach Jeff Jackson, the damage could have been worse if it were not for the play of their goaltender.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish sophomore forward Cal Burke looks for a teammate during Notre Dame’s 5-3 win over Penn State on Nov. 10 at Compton Family Ice Arena.

“We’ve had some slow starts here in the first half. We’ve changed a few things, but Friday night did not really show that things have been changed,” Jackson said. “Cale Morris has played well, and that allows us to be in games we don’t start well. That’s something we need to resolve, to not to have to rely on our goaltender as much. He gave us a chance to get our act together and gave us a chance to win that game.”

The Irish came out strong in the second period and it ended up showing on the scoreboard. Midway through the period, senior Jake Evans scored to tie the game and sophomore Cal Burke put the Irish in front just 62 seconds later. Evans picked up an assist on Burke’s tally, and his two points in the game marked his ninth multi-point game of the season further extended his lead national scoring lead of 28 points through 18 games. Coach Jackson believes that Evans has been instrumental to the team’s success this season.

“[Jake]’s been huge. Everyone wanted to know who was going to help us after the loss of [former Notre Dame player and current Boston Bruin] Anders Bjork, and he’s been the guy,” Jackson said. “He’s gotten good contributions from other people on his line and our defensemen. With [sophomore forward Andrew] Oglevie back and [junior forward Dylan] Malmquist back we’re going to try to get other guys going so the pressure isn’t all on Jake.”

The Irish played a strong third period, tacking on an insurance goal to put the game away. Freshman Colin Theisen received a pass from senior defenseman Jordan Gross and out-skated the Spartan defense, finishing past the Michigan State goaltender to double the Irish lead. The Irish didn’t look back and took the game 3-1.

In the second game, the Irish peppered the Michigan State net all night. Sophomore Spartan goaltender John Lethemon only conceded the one goal, stopping 27 Irish shots. But the one goal was all the Irish needed, as Andrew Oglevie scored 90 seconds into the contest and the Irish defense did the rest. Cale Morris stopped 23 shots to collect his fourth shutout of the season, and the Irish pushed their winning streak up to eleven games. Coach Jackson was excited about the streak, but believes that his team has room to grow in upcoming weeks.

“It’s still early in the season. Obviously we’re very pleased where we are, but from my perspective we’ve relied on our goaltender too much. I think we can play better. We played better on Saturday night, but we need to do a better job coming out of the zone with speed,” Jackson said. “We’re not possessing the puck enough, sometimes we’re winning games where teams are outshooting us by at least ten shots. That’s an indication to me we’re not possessing the puck enough. We have to work on our game and get better.”

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