Notre Dame looks for offense following mid season injuries
Jack Concannon | Thursday, January 17, 2019
This weekend, No. 12 Notre Dame will hit the road to face off against Wisconsin in a matchup critical for Notre Dame’s placement in the Big Ten standings. The Irish are currently in sixth place in the conference after being swept at home by Minnesota, but remain just three points out of third place and eight points out of first. The Irish will have to start collecting points fast if they are going to make up those differences, and it starts this weekend against the Badgers. Irish head coach Jeff Jackson emphasized the team’s need to find production from everyone on the team in the wake of recent injuries.
“Ever since we got back from Christmas break its been one thing after another,” Jackson said. “We have got to get healthy. In the meantime, we are going to have to find guys who can find a way to score goals. That has been the biggest obstacle for us thus far. We have to rely on guys to step up and find a way to put the puck in the net.”
The team has been playing without junior forwards Joe Wegwerth and Cam Morrison, both normally fixtures in the Irish lineup. The team was hit with more bad luck Tuesday as junior forward Cal Burke had to go undergo surgery for appendicitis and is expected to be out multiple weeks. Burke is the leading point-scorer for the Irish this season, posting 21 points in 21 games played. The Irish (12-8-1, 5-6-0 Big Ten) are currently last in the Big Ten in scoring.
Wisconsin (8-9-3, 4-3-3) features fast skilled defensemen that can move the puck and play well in their own end. The Badgers’ two leading scorers are both defensemen, and they have given up the second-fewest goals in the Big Ten so far. Jackson had high praise for Wisconsin’s program.
“They’re going to become a really a good team. I think they’re a good team now, and they’re young,” Jackson said. “They have a lot of speed, they play up tempo, they’re a fast time. Their defensemen are active not just in the rush, but in the offensive zone as well. They’re a team on the rise in my opinion.”
The first game in the series will be held on campus in Madison on Friday night, then the teams will travel to Chicago for a neutral site game at the United Center. The United Center has not been kind to the Irish in recent years. Wisconsin defeated the Irish 5-0 last year there to snap an Irish 16-game win streak. The year before the Irish fell 6-1 to Denver to end their season at the Frozen Four in Chicago. Jackson says the Irish will stick to their routine as usual and hope for a large turnout for the neutral site contest.
“We’re going to get a chance to practice at their practice facility on Saturday which has the same size ice as the United Center,” Jackson said. “It’s kind of weird; we’re heading there when the Blackhawks are playing the same day. I’m not sure how that will affect the ice conditions, but I’m sure it will impact the crowd. I think we had 10,000 in there for that game last year, I hope we get that again.”
The Irish will take on the Badgers on Friday at 9 p.m. at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and then on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago.