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Hockey

Notre Dame’s season ends with 4-0 loss to No. 1 UMass

| Monday, April 1, 2019

In the past few years, Notre Dame has had a flair for the dramatic. Between the overtime wins and the clutch scoring, it felt as if the Irish (23-14-3, 11-11-2 Big Ten) have been destined to win important games.

After a classic overtime win against Clarkson in the first round of the NCAA tournament, it seemed that clutch scoring could take the Irish to the Frozen Four for the third-straight year. Instead, Notre Dame had no chance to work their late-game magic in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday night. They were outplayed, dropping a 4-0 decision against No. 1-seeded Massachusetts (30-9, 18-6 Hockey East) to end their season.

Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said he was impressed with UMass’ performance.

“They came out with a vengeance this weekend. They remind me of Penn State in the way they play,” Jackson said. “They’re a puck pressure team, they’re very aggressive keeping pucks in the zone. They’re very hard on pucks, and they don’t give you much time and space to make plays. They’re very well coached, they have good defensive stick skills, they create turnovers and they put a lot of pressure on you from those turnovers.”

Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish junior forward Cam Morrison prepares to receive the puck during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Michigan on Feb. 12 at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Despite the final score, the Irish were competitive early. They were outshot 12-6 in the first period, but the Irish have a history of surviving opposing pressure and winning games without registering many shots. Notre Dame stuck to its game plan, not allowing a goal in the first 20 minutes of play. Junior goaltender Cale Morris was sound, and the Irish defense did a good job keeping the Minutemen to the outside.

The Irish were unable to weather the storm in the second period. They looked slow, got beat to loose pucks and failed to control play. Whether it was fatigue from playing in overtime the night before, UMass’ aggressive style or just Irish playoff magic running out, the UMass surge was enough to essentially end the game. The Irish were outshot 16-2 and outscored 3-0 in the frame — their worst period of the season. Junior defenseman Andrew Peeke gave UMass credit for their second-period performance.

“They were playing fast all night. They were working hard,” Peeke said. “The first goal was a little bit of a weird bounce, but they capitalized on their chances, and their work ethic was really good tonight.”

The damage in the second began with a UMass power play. Sophomore forward Jake Gaudet broke the scoreless tie from an unusual bounce off a referee. The puck settled on his stick, and he snapped it under Morris for a 1-0 lead 7:49 into the second period. Sophomore forward John Leonard doubled the lead later off of a sustained offensive shift. The Irish were flat-footed, allowing the Minutemen to take several shots before they eventually scored.

UMass sophomore defenseman Cale Makar — the 2017 NHL Draft fourth overall pick — scored the third goal of the second period. Sophomore forward Oliver Chau would add UMass’ fourth goal late in the third period and seal the Irish’s fate.

Despite the unfortunate end to their time, the Irish seniors will leave behind an impressive legacy of two Big Ten titles, two Frozen Fours and three NCAA tournament appearances. Senior forwards Joe Wegwerth, Dylan Mamlquist and Jack Jenkins along with senior defenseman Bobby Nardella have contributed greatly to Notre Dame hockey, Jackson said. He had high praise for his seniors after their final game.

“This may be the most successful senior class that we’ve had. You give kids credit nowadays when they stick around for four years,” Jackson said. “It always makes a big difference when you have good seniors. Joe, Dylan, Bobby and Jack are great kids. I’m extremely proud of them. They had great careers. I told them in the locker room they have nothing to be ashamed of. They probably had the best career of any class of ours at Notre Dame. They’ve certainly worn that jersey with pride.”

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