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Hockey

‘I don’t want to make excuses:’ Jackson speaks on team’s slump in weekly press conference

| Friday, December 6, 2019

Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson discussed his team’s recent slump Wednesday in his weekly press conference. The No. 9 Irish are coming off a three-game losing streak after dropping two games to Bowling Green in Ohio and one a week earlier at Michigan State in East Lansing. 

“You never look to make excuses in any way,” Jackson said. “I thought that we made some bad plays with the puck, our penalty killing wasn’t as good as it should have been and our goaltending gave up a bad goal each night. I look at that as being more of an anomaly because our [penalty killing] has been pretty good, and I know our goaltending is going to be good.”

Jackson’s biggest concern, he said, is the team’s inability to score throughout the last few games.

“I think that for several weeks we were getting some secondary scoring, and that disappeared,” Jackson said. “And that’s where the biggest concern I have moving forward here is. I think our goaltending will get in order. But we’ve got to find ways to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis. Our senior line, they’ve been getting matched up against every game, and that’s been okay until now, when we’re not getting that scoring from the second, third and fourth lines. We’ll tighten up the goals again but we’ve got to find a way to get to three goals, at least on a nightly basis. And power plays have been doing OK in the last few weeks, so right now it’s more about getting some five-on-five scoring.”

Allison Thornton | The Observer

Irish sophomore defender Spenser Stastney looks to skate past a defender in a 3-2 overtime victory against Ohio State on November 8 at Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish started on a good path to begin the season with an 8-0-1 start, but have hit a hump midway through the season. With five of the last six games being on the road, the Irish will be eager to get back home for the second game of their series against No. 10 Boston College.  

“We’re playing top-10 teams left and right here in the second half — this weekend with Boston College and Penn State next weekend,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to make excuses, but I know for me personally, it’s been a little bit of a tough stretch because we’ve been traveling every week, regardless of the length of the trips or we’re flying or if we’re bussing. You’ve got very little time to turn around, and these kids have got classes, and we have our day-to-day work that we do as well. But when you’re on the road for four straight weeks it catches up to you a little bit.”

The Irish will be facing off this weekend against Boston College, who are ranked just one spot below them in the standings. The first game of the series will be played Friday in Chestnut Hill, and the second game will be played Sunday at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Jackson spoke highly of the Eagles in the press conference.

“I mean they look like the team of old — I mean they’ve got a lot of skill,” Jackson said. “They’ve got great goaltending. I think that they’re a really well-balanced team so this would be the best BC team we’ve seen in probably three or four years. You know, they’ve got some really talented forwards. They got a good defense and … the goaltender not only is a good goalie but he also handles the puck real long, which makes them a threat.”

Jackson also noted the challenge the team’s traveling poses to maintaining physicality.

“We have to hope that our guys are in such good condition that … it doesn’t impact us,” Jackson said. “I mean, you know, we have a great staff here and training staff or strength staff. You know I think they do a great job of making sure our guys are hydrated and then the nutritional aspect of it is taken care of. … They recover faster than I do, let’s put it that way, but they’re also out there battling for 120 minutes every weekend and then they practice all week real hard. … There’s dog days in late November and there’s always dog days in February, because it’s the academics that tie into this too because it gets more difficult as the semester gets closer to final exams. … So it’s the combination of the day-to-day here and then traveling every week [that] makes it a little bit more challenging.”

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