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Wisconsin snaps Notre Dame’s 16-game winning streak at United Center

and | Monday, January 22, 2018

No. 1 Notre Dame’s program-record 16-game win streak came to an abrupt end Sunday in Chicago’s United Center, as the Irish fell 5-0 to No. 18 Wisconsin, after winning the first game of the series 4-2 at home Friday night against the Badgers.

On Friday night, the Irish (19-4-1, 13-1-0 Big Ten) got off to an uncharacteristically hot start in the first period. After a missed power play opportunity in the first few minutes, Notre Dame got another chance with 12 minutes remaining in the period as Wisconsin junior Matthew Freytag was called for cross-checking. The Irish pounced on the opportunity, immediately putting several promising shots on goal. The relentless attack paid off quickly when junior forward Andrew Oglevie took a wrist shot from the left side which appeared to hit the pipe, but, after official review, was ruled a goal.

Mackenzi Marinovich | The Observer
Irish senior forward Jake Evans skates with the puck during Notre Dame’s 4-2 win over Wisconsin on Friday at Compton Family Ice Arena.

With a one-goal lead, the Irish continued with their efficient offensive attack throughout the period. Four minutes after Oglevie’s goal, senior captain Jake Evans scored on a top shelf wrist shot assisted by sophomore forward Cam Morrison. But Notre Dame’s two goal lead was cut to one with two minutes left in the period, as sophomore forward Mike O’Leary was called for tripping on a Wisconsin (12-12-3, 6-8-2) breakaway, giving the Badgers a penalty shot which they ultimately capitalized on. Nevertheless, the Irish regained their two-goal lead in the final minute of the period when sophomore defenseman Andrew Peeke, assisted by Oglevie, scored his second goal of the season.

“It’s important to get off to good starts, and we did have a tough time with that in the first half. It’s been a point of emphasis — we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how we can do things better in preparing for the start of games so we can get off to a better start,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said. “I give the leadership group a lot of credit for trying to come up with ways to make sure that when we get going we start the game with some energy.”

The second period didn’t see much offense from either side, as each squad had a power play opportunity in the period, but neither resulted in a score. The defense on both sides was tough, and as a result, scuffles ensued. In the final minute of the period, the referees worked to break up several fights by the boards after senior defenseman Justin Wade laid a big hit on a Wisconsin forward. After all was settled, Cam Morrison and Wade, along with two Badgers, were given minor penalties for roughing after the whistle, but Wade was also given a five-minute major for contact to the head and a game misconduct.

The Irish managed to kill the power play efforts of the Badgers for five minutes, but seconds after the Irish were back to full strength, Wisconsin freshman forward Tarek Baker scored off a wrist shot. With only a one-goal lead, the Irish defense remained strong, holding off the efforts of the Badgers for the remainder of the period. As Wisconsin pulled their goalie in the final minute, senior forward Dawson Cook scored an empty net goal to seal the win for the Irish.

Notre Dame’s defense continued to look solid in the Saturday matchup, but more notably, the offense seemed to step up, and Jackson was impressed with the scoring opportunities his squad created.

“We’re getting scoring from a lot of different areas, and that is important for us,” Jackson said. “Everybody was concerned about who was going to score without Anders Bjork here, and I knew we’d probably have to do it in aggregate, where we are getting contributions from everybody for those points. And that’s what is basically happening — we’re getting production from a lot of different forwards, we’re getting production from our defensemen, and that is certainly making it a little easier on us. You know, it’s hard to score more than three goals in college hockey anymore. So, if we can average over three goals a game it certainly helps us, especially with the way we’re defending and the goaltending we’re getting.”

But Sunday, Notre Dame failed to reach the three-goal threshold, and ended up being blanked by the Badgers 5-0 in front of a large crowd at the United Center.

Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead when freshman defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk broke the deadlock just over five minutes in, and from there the Badgers didn’t look back. In the second period, Wisconsin struck again, this time on a short-handed goal in which sophomore forward Trent Frederic got out on a one-on-one and finished past Morris to put the Irish down two.

Notre Dame pushed for an equalizer, but failed to capitalize on any of its four power plays, and the while the Badgers added a third off of a power play in the final minute of the second.

In the third, the Irish defense held up to keep the period scoreless for much of the period, but Notre Dame’s offense could not get a break at the other end, in large part due to the heroics of sophomore goalie Jack Berry, who had 40 saves in the shutout. Wisconsin managed to add two late goals, including one on the power play, to seal Notre Dame’s first loss since late October.

“They wanted it more than we did tonight and we’re going to be facing that the rest of the way from teams with that kind of intensity level,” Jackson said on the loss. “I thought we were doing okay but that short-handed goal pretty much changed the whole game. Our special teams in total have been great for us for the most part, especially our penalty kill, but tonight they took advantage of some opportunities on special teams which made a huge difference.”

Notre Dame next plays this coming weekend on the road against Minnesota.

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