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Irish prepare for second Big Ten matchup of season against Ohio State

| Friday, November 8, 2019

The No. 5 ranked Notre Dame hockey squad will return home this weekend for a series against Ohio State. The Irish are coming off a win and a tie against Big Ten rival Minnesota (3-4-1, 0-1-1 Big Ten) on the road this past weekend.

The first contest ended in a 2-2 draw. While each team had several power play opportunities, both goaltenders had strong showings, as Irish senior goalkeeper Cale Morris ended the game with 23 saves in the net, while Gophers freshman goalkeeper Jared Moe made 31 stops. Ultimately at the end of the first game, the contest would remain unsettled at 2-2.

In the second game the Gophers would jump out to an early lead, finishing the first period ahead 2-0. However, the Irish were able to erase the deficit, knotting the score at 2-2 with 13:46 remaining in the second period. The Gophers were able to respond just 42 seconds later when sophomore forward Garret Wait netted his first goal of the season on a two-on-one opportunity, giving the home squad a 3-2 advantage. With the clock winding down in the second period, Irish sophomore defenseman Nick Leivermann fired a shot from the distance which slipped past Moe to knot the score up yet again at 3-3. The goal was Leivermann’s second of the game. Just over a minute into the third period, the Irish scored again, after another defenseman, sophomore Charlie Raith fired a shot from just inside the point that would find twine, putting the Irish up 4-3. The Irish would score once more on an empty net in the third to finish the second game 5-3, remaining undefeated.

Irish head coach Jeff Jackson would comment on how Morris’ production has progressed throughout his time at Notre Dame. 

“I think he’s getting progressively better,” Jackson said. “He certainly made some big saves for us. Early, especially early on, on Saturday when we went down I mean if we had given up the third goal it might have been a totally different game but he made some big saves for us and then made big saves in the stretch too to hold the lead.”

Jackson also commented on the victory against Minnesota noting how impressed he was with four of his defenseman putting points on the board in the contest.

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior defenseman Tory Dello handles the puck in a 5-2 victory against Michigan on Feb. 13.

“Leivermann is starting to gain some confidence and he’s starting to show what he’s capable of doing and part of that is certainly on the powerplay. But I mean if you have guys that can shoot the puck from the top and get puck through to the net, it gives more respect than to the forward or to the defensemen to where the forward’s open up a little bit more down low so having that threat up top certainly helps,” Jackson said. “Yeah that’s kind of rare [to have four defenders score]. But you know we’re starting to grow as a team, I mean we’re trying to see how guys are contributing. Some of the younger guys are starting to step up right now which helps us a lot and that includes some of those defensemen that we’re talking about. Guys like [freshman forwards] Trevor Janicke and Jesse Lansdell. … Janicke and Lansdell both starting to show some positive signs as far as the young guys go, and then the young defensemen, whether its Leivermann or Charlie Raith. … It’s always positive when we get production from the back end because it’s so hard to score five-on-five anymore that if your defensemen aren’t involved in the play then you’re not going to score very much. So from that regard I thought we did some good things inconsistently on Friday night, but Saturday night I though you know we played much better after we started slow.”

After their matchup this weekend against No. 9 ranked Ohio State (6-1-1, 2-0 Big Ten) the Irish will not return home until late November, when they come back on Nov. 29 to take on Bowling Green. These two teams share a bitter relationship, considering the Buckeyes were able to get the best of the Irish three times last season in the four meetings. The only win the Irish were able to muster up was at home, but that only came after they lost the first game of the series.

The Buckeyes are coming off of a four-game win streak after defeating Mercyhurst and Michigan in a two-game series. The Buckeyes’ only loss of the season came at the hands of Omaha who defeated them 2-1 in the Buckeyes home stadium. Despite this one loss, the Buckeyes have not given up more than two goals in each of their contests this season. Jackson detailed what his team needs to focus on heading into the matchup against a team with such a structured defensive set.

“Much different team than what we played last weekend. We’re going from playing on the big sheet against a team that’s highly skilled and fast into a team that’s got a lot of ability but they’re also very structured and very good defensively and have got really good goaltending, so I don’t think they’ve given up more than two goals a game so far this year,” Jackson said. “I think they’ve been under two every game or two or less. Last year we only scored four goals on them in four games so they’re a very hard team to play against as far as the way they play the game. They’re very well coached and they do a lot of really good things defensively. They really create turnovers which plays into their other part of their game which is transition, and their power play is good as well.”

The puck will drop Friday at 8 p.m. to start the first game. The second game will start at 7 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be played inside the Compton Family Ice Arena. 

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About Jimmy Ward

Jimmy is a senior at Holy Cross College, where he studies English and sports management. He is originally from Westfield, Indiana. Currently, Jimmy serves as an associate sports editor at The Observer. You can find him at @jimmyyward on Twitter.

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