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Irish look to rebound against conference foe No. 9 Ohio State

| Friday, January 17, 2020

The No. 18-ranked Notre Dame hockey team will have a chance to bounce back after two home losses to Michigan last weekend as they go on the road Friday to take on conference rival No. 9 Ohio State (14-6-2, 7-4-1 Big Ten) for the second time this season. The Irish (10-9-3, 5-5-2 Big Ten) got the best of the Buckeyes in their last meeting back in November in South Bend. 

The first game of the series saw an exciting matchup as the Irish overcame a 2-1 deficit when freshman forward Trevor Janicke found the net with just 1:57 remaining, push the game into overtime. The game-winner came off the stick of junior forward Pierce Crawford with just over a minute left in the bonus period, and the game would end with an Irish victory by a score of 3-2.

The next day the Irish would come back yet again after the Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead, and would end up sweeping the weekend, defeating Ohio State 2-1 in the second contest. 

However, Notre Dame is coming off of a two-game losing streak to fellow Big Ten rival Michigan (9-11-2, 4-7-1 Big Ten) in South Bend nonetheless, on days students were just starting to get back to campus. 

Allison Thornton | The Observer
Irish junior guard Pierce Crawford fights for the puck during Notre Dame’s 3-2 overtime win against Ohio State on Nov. 8.

The Irish saw success at the beginning of their season, but have seen some tough loses in the second half of the season.

Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said the catalyst to this downhill spiral was their first loss of the season to Wisconsin at Madison in mid-November. The Irish were able to jump back from this loss in the next game of the series with a 5-4 overtime victory, but this winning streak was extinguished quickly as Notre Dame stayed on the road the following weekend and recorded a tie and a loss to the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing. This loss would be the start of a six-game losing streak. 

Notre Dame got back on track with a win against then-No. 7 Penn State and were able to record a win on the road against No. 17-ranked Western Michigan, but this was only after the Broncos forced a tie in Compton Family Ice Arena two days earlier.

Jackson spoke on his team’s mid-season slump in a post practice press conference Wednesday.

“We had a stretch there [where] we were doing really well,” Jackson said. “More recently, we’ve been a little bit deflated, I think, and that is just an emotional thing and a confidence thing. When the opposing team gets the lead in the third period, it’s about having that ability to come back. We were doing it really well in the first half of the year, but our confidence has taken a hit. So it is easier for them to when they score late in the game, or even in the second period sometimes — I feel like our team has a big exhale of gas coming out of us.”

The Irish schedule will not get much easier in the second half of the season, as they will face off against Wisconsin for a second time after their contest against the Buckeyes, then they will head to University Park the next weekend for a series against No. 6-ranked Penn State. Then they will play host to Minnesota, closing out their regular season against two opponents based to the north of South Bend: Michigan and Michigan State. Coach Jackson said the key for his team the remainder of the season is to maintain their course.

“We just have to stay the course just keep emphasizing the things that we have done really since the start of the second half [of the season],” Jackson said. “Some of those things — the positive things — are showing up on film, but it’s just not consistently enough. … We have to try to generate more off of the rush. We have to get people to the net off the rush. I think our cycle and our offensive zone play has been okay, and our face-offs in the end zone have been okay. It is just a matter of us capitalizing when we get those two-on-ones or those three-on-two rush situations.” 

The puck will drop for the first game of the series Friday at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio at 6 p.m. The series will conclude Saturday with a schedule for a 5 p.m. drop.

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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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