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Sports

Irish hope to bounce back from losing streak

| Thursday, December 12, 2019

No. 15 Notre Dame hockey team (8-6-2, 4-2-2 Big Ten) will be returning to conference play with a game against No. 7 Penn State (12-5, 7-3 Big Ten) this weekend following tough losses to Boston College, Bowling Green and Michigan State. Boston College jumped to No. 5 in the rankings when they outscored Notre Dame 10-1 last weekend in a home-and-home series. After those two losses to the Eagles, the Irish have subsequently sunk below the Bowling Green in the rankings. The Falcons beat Notre Dame 5-2 in both games in their home-and-home series and is now ranked tenth. 

Grace Aubry | The Observer

Irish sophomore defenseman Spencer Stastney celebrates with his team after a goal during Notre Dame’s 3-2 overtime win over Ohio State at Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish will be hoping to regain traction this weekend, but they will have their work cut out for them. The Nittany Lions have the best scoring offense in the country averaging 4.29 goals per game. Notre Dame is 24 spots back at No. 25, averaging 2.8 goals per game. Boston College is ranked No. 8 in scoring and put up an offensive clinic against the Irish defense. The Nittany Lions will be heading into South Bend with a head of steam for the first game of the series, as they won one and dropped another against Michigan in Ann Arbor a week ago. The Nittany Lions have certainly not gotten off to the start they have desired, already losing five games. But after getting their postseason chances taken away last year in the Big Ten Tournament by Notre Dame, Penn State will be coming into Compton Family Ice Arena with a bitter taste in their mouth. With statistics leaning in favor of Penn State, Irish head coach Jeff Jackson will need to deploy a solid game plan if he hopes to defeat the Nittany Lions. 

Jackson said for his team, the most important thing is getting back to the basics. 

“Yeah, I mean, you can’t coach confidence. All we can do right now is just get back to basics, simplify things get back to basics, or fundamentals and get these guys feeling good about themselves as much as we can.” Jackson said. “We want to have some success this weekend but we have got to focus on how we play probably more than winning a game. You know we have to play better. And I think that constitutes every aspect of our game.” 

Jackson also spoke about his upcoming matchup with Penn State, comparing them to Boston College.

“They’re not a whole lot different than Boston College. They have a lot of skill and speed and they apply a lot of pressure. They’re very similar to Boston College in a lot of ways. They’re another veteran team too because BC is also a veteran team as far as classes go having a lot of seniors, especially on the blue line but this group that they’ve had together for three solid years that have been the same group. They haven’t lost much and you know they just go, go, go, and they put a lot of pressure on you. Whether it’s defensive pressure or forecheck and back pressure or it’s offensively, — leaving the zone and flying guys and getting people in behind you.” Jackson said. “When I say ‘Simplify our game’ is to not put ourselves in a position where that becomes a factor. Yeah, because a lot of what’s happening right now is we’re making mistakes that lead to the opponent’s success.

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