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Hockey

“We’re not done”: Irish look for bounce back win against Wisconsin

| Friday, January 24, 2020

Notre Dame will return home and square off against Wisconsin this weekend in another critical conference matchup.

The Irish (10-10-4, 5-6-3 Big 10) currently sit fourth in the Big 10 conference with 20 points, just two points ahead of Michigan (10-11-3, 5-7-2-1 Big 10). The team will need a big weekend performance to maintain standing.

Despite sitting last in the conference standings, Wisconsin (9-12-1, 4-9-1-1 Big 10) will prove to be one of the more challenging opponents the Irish will face heading into the last 10 games of the season.

“Probably one of the most talented teams we’ll play all year long,” Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said about Wisconsin. “Speed and skill up front, really big and solid on the back end. They’ve got all the tools to be a great team. I think they’ve shown signs of being one of the more dominant teams from an offensive perspective at teams, but I think that they’re defending better and I think that’s going to help them here in the second half.”

Allison Thornton | The Observer

Irish junior goaltender Dylan St. Cyr battles for the puck against two Buckeyes players on Nov. 8 in Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish will need to bounce back after a pair of tough games against Ohio State (15-6-3, 8-4-2 Big 10), in which Notre Dame surrendered a three goal lead in game one and failed to convert on scoring opportunities in game two.

“We had chances and we couldn’t put them in the net,” Jackson said. “That’s the most frustrating part is that you see them doing the things we ask them to do and they don’t score; it makes it more challenging. I know they’re working hard, and they keep a good attitude. We have to just keep going at it next game. We’ve got to build on what we did in the third period of that last game because that was one of our best periods in a while. It’s just a matter of being more consistent in that situation.”

The power play and penalty kill units of the Irish, as well as the need for more goal scoring, will play a large role in the success of the squad in this weekend’s contest.

“Special teams are still a factor — I think that our penalty killing has been a factor,” Jackson said. “We think we got the personal to be a good penalty-kill team but that’s still a factor for us too. But the primary issue still is not being consistent offensively, and I thought after Saturday night that was a positive sign. We scored a few nice goals.”

As the regular season comes to a close, Notre Dame sits five points behind both Michigan State (12-11-1, 8-5-1 Big 10) and Penn State (16-7-1, 8-5-1 Big 10) in the standings. The Irish will need to collect as many points as possible to try and improve in the standings as the conference tournament draws near.

“We’re not done,” Jackson said. “We’re still playing for positioning in our conference. We still have a chance to do a lot of things here with 10 games left. There’s 30 points sitting there. We have to go into every game and just be ready for the next game with the objective of getting points and that has to be our goal. I’m still confident that this team can accomplish a lot of things with the 10 games and the playoffs but we just have to play it each game at a time.”

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

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