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Hockey

From a freshman rotation player, Cal Burke has developed into a key leader for the Irish

| Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Irish failed to convert on their first six power plays of the night on Tuesday. Despite multiple scoring chances, Notre Dame (8-4-1, 4-2 Big Ten) was lured into a sudden death overtime period against the Northern Michigan Wildcats.

In the seventh extra-man opportunity for the Irish, senior forward Dylan Malmquist fired a shot that ricocheted off junior forward Cam Morrison. Junior forward Cal Burke, loitering near the Wildcats’ goal line, corralled a rebound and flicked the puck into the back of the net to give the Irish a 2-1 victory.

Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish junior forward Cal Burke handles the puck during Notre Dame’s 3-1 loss to Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 27 at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Burke, who had five shots on goal in regulation and seemed to be around the opposing crease all night, had the opportunity to shut the door on Northern Michigan. With his golden goal, all the power play woes evaporated, and the Irish could catch their breath at Compton Family Ice Arena.

“We had so many chances. I mean, it was a little frustrating, but at least we got one in the end,” Burke said. “You can’t get too frustrated when you’re getting the chances because it’s when you’re not getting chances that you have to worry a bit … it just happened to pop out in the slot where I was, so it was just a good bounce for us.”

Hailing from Foxborough, Massachusetts, Burke joined the Irish in 2016 after competing with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, a junior ice hockey team in the United States Hockey League. Burke was a premier playmaker in the USHL, racking up 39 points in 56 games in his final season with the RoughRiders, but that success took time to transition to Notre Dame.

In his first season with the Irish, Burke collected 11 points, including only three goals, in 35 games at the Division I level. Burke initially struggled to turn scoring opportunities into points, shooting at a .043 clip (4.3 percent) on 69 shots.

In his sophomore season a year ago, Burke ranked second on the team with 14 goals. His 26 points planted him at fourth among his Irish teammates. His improved efficiency and .141 shot percentage over 38 games helped guide the Irish to a Big Ten championship in only their first season in the conference.

Now, only 13 games into his junior campaign, Burke has racked up a team-high 15 points and eight goals, perhaps none more important than his overtime winner on Tuesday. His productivity is the result of more efficient play as Burke’s shot percentage sits at .182, over four times greater than that of his freshman year.

“Hockey can be really frustrating if you look at it a certain way. So often the goals you score are just weird bounces and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Burke said. 

Burke has played a significant part in the last two Irish campaigns, helping Notre Dame reach back-to-back Frozen Four appearances, including a national championship appearance last season. Along the way, he has played in at least 35 games each season, maintaining a firm grasp on playing time.

This year, Burke is a staple in the Irish lineup, appearing in all 13 games for Notre Dame. He leads the team in a number of statistical categories, including goals, assists and shots. He has transitioned from his role as a rotation player his freshman year to the focal point of the offense as a junior.

Burke said he hopes to be an example of that confidence as a playmaker and leader of this Irish team.

“In order to score I try to do the right things. Follow the playbook and systems that coach sets up, work hard in the defensive zone and try to translate that to offense,” Burke said. “Tonight, I wasn’t even touching the puck before my goal … Rarely you score a goal where it’s an individual effort, so my teammates helps me a lot.”

 

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