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Irish extend winning streak to 15 games, take over No.1 ranking

| Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Despite playing only two games, it was an eventful winter break for Notre Dame hockey.

During the four-week break, the then-No. 2 Irish (18-3-1, 12-0-0 Big Ten) had two players compete in international hockey tournaments. Sophomore defenseman Andrew Peeke was a member of Team USA at the 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship, which took place in Buffalo, New York, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

Peeke played in all seven games and tallied a goal and an assist to help Team USA win a bronze medal.

Senior forward and captain Jake Evans represented his home country of Canada at the 2017 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, from Dec. 26 to 31. Evans played in all four games to help Canada win the championship.

On Jan. 5, after a four-week break, the Irish returned to action, beating Big Ten rival Michigan (10-10-2, 5-7-2 Big Ten) 2-1 at the Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Junior forward Andrew Oglivie awaits a pass versus Penn State on Nov. 10.

Notre Dame got on the board early when freshman defenseman Matt Hellickson scored a power play goal 4:44 into the first period to give the Irish 1-0 lead. It was Hellickson’s first career goal.

Notre Dame extended their lead five minutes later on another power play when junior forward Andrew Oglevie took a no-look pass by junior forward Dylan Malmquist from behind the net and ripped the puck past the goaltender for his eighth goal of the year.

Michigan cut the lead in half when Tony Calderone scored with 4:08 left in the first period. It would be the last goal scored on the night.

Sophomore goaltender Cale Morris continued his consistent play, stopping 35 of 36 shots on goal to help preserve a 2-1 Notre Dame victory.

The second game of the series took place Jan. 7 at Compton Family Ice Arena. It was more of the same, as the Irish once again defeated the Wolverines by a 2-1 score.

The win was Notre Dame’s 15th straight victory dating back to Oct. 27.

A little more than six minutes into the second period, Oglevie finished off a breakaway attempt with his ninth goal of the season and second of the series to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.

Seven minutes later, with the Irish on the power play, Hellickson snuck the puck between Michigan goalie Hayden Lavigne’s legs and into the goal to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 2-0 with 6:09 left in the second period.

Josh Norris got Michigan on the board with 11:16 left in the third period, but that was as close as the team would come to mounting a comeback. Morris once again shut the door on the Wolverines, saving 33 of the 34 shots he faced.

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson praised his team’s defensive efforts in both wins.

“Our goalie and our defensemen are, right now, the backbone of our team,” he said. “The positive thing is we’re getting some timely scoring, some key goals, and we make it interesting every night. It always seems to be a tough game every night. … Every game’s a battle and we’re fighting through it and going through these tough games is good for us and is going to help us as we move forward.”

Jackson said he liked the way his team played after the long break, but noticed areas where the team could still improve.

“When you finish the first half after three solid months … and you take a month off, it’s almost like you’re starting over,” he said. “Your timing is a little bit off, and you’re not as sharp in some areas. It probably showed up more at Yost on Friday than it did tonight. I thought we had some really good spells, and we had some really tough spells, especially coming out of our zone.”

On Jan. 8, Notre Dame received the No. 1 ranking in both the U.S. College Hockey Online poll and the USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today poll.

After having this past weekend off, Notre Dame will be back in action this weekend when they host No. 18 Wisconsin on Friday at the Compton Family Ice Arena. The second game of the series will take place on Sunday afternoon at the United Center in downtown Chicago.

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