Irish split series with RIT, face road test against Minnesota
Nate Moller | Thursday, October 28, 2021
The 13th-ranked Irish hockey program was back in action this past weekend against the RIT Tigers. Although the Irish dropped the first game of the series 3-2 in overtime, the Irish bounced back to win game two of the series easily by a score of 6-0.
In the series’ opener, the Irish fell behind 2-0 in the first period despite outshooting the Tigers 34-19. The Tigers’ first goal of the game came off of an Irish turnover that gave the Tigers a 3-on-1 with Will Caverley finding the back of the net for the Tigers.
The Tigers then tacked on their second goal of the period after Caverley won the face-off in the neutral zone and Kobe Walker took the puck all the way around the Irish net to score up close on goaltender junior Ryan Bischel.
Although the Irish generated plenty of chances early on in the second period, they failed to score until 5 minutes remained in the period. It was sophomore forward Graham Slaggert who finally put the Irish on the board by slipping a wrist shot past the Tigers’ goaltender.
The Irish were then able to level the game in the third period on a 4-on-3 advantage. Senior defenseman Nick Leivermann was the scorer for the Irish by beating the RIT goaltender to the short side.
The Irish were almost able to take the lead with 6 minutes remaining in the third period when a drop pass from junior forward Trevor Janicke set up senior Graham Slaggert in the slot. Unfortunately for the Irish, Slaggert’s shot was saved and overtime was needed in South Bend.
The Irish had the first chance in overtime, but senior forward Cam Burke’s shot was yet again saved by the Tigers’ goaltender. The Tigers then moved the puck quickly down the ice on the ensuing possession to score the overtime game winner for the Tigers.
The Irish responded emphatically to their first loss of the season by blowing out RIT 6-0 in the second game of the series.
The Irish dominated this one early by scoring three goals in a 6-minute span midway through the first period to take a dominating 3-0 lead with two goals from Trevor Janicke and one from junior forward Max Ellis.
Ellis then tacked on his second of the night in the second period to give the Irish an even larger 4-0 lead. Landon Slaggert would then extend the lead to 5-0 only minutes later with a power-play goal. Freshman forward Hunter Strand would then bury his second goal of the year with a minute left in the game to give the Irish a dominant 6-0 victory. Graduate student goaltender Matthew Galajada was named the Big Ten Hockey’s Third Star of the week for his shutout on Friday.
The Irish penalty kill improved to 23-for-23 to open the season after the weekend series against RIT.
One of the reasons for the Irish defense’s success on the power play this season is graduate student defenseman Adam Karashik, who transferred from UConn.
Head coach Jeff Jackson discussed what Karashik means to this team.
“He has given us something that we haven’t had back there for a couple of years,” Jackson said. “Plus, he is very mobile.”
In addition to his play on the ice, Jackson discussed Karashik’s impact off the ice, and one of the reasons he was named a captain of this year’s team.
“It didn’t take long to recognize the character of this young man and he plays with that character as well. It’s a unique quality that this kid has,” Jackson said. “And he’s a great teammate. He goes along with everyone, but I also think he’s a guy that’s not afraid to step up and hold others accountable. He’s got a unique quality about him that makes him a very impressive young man and a leader in our locker room and on the ice.”
Jackson also discussed how fewer COVID-19 restrictions this year have affected his team, but he also acknowledged that the pandemic is not completely over yet.
“I felt bad for the seniors last year not being able to do their normal routines for football games or have the team get-togethers.” Jackson said. “It’s been a little bit looser this year but not totally. We still have to be diligent. This thing is not over 100%. We are in our locker room. We are together. The guys are living back on campus. Things are somewhat back to normal, but we are still trying to make sure that we are keeping our head[s] up.”
The Irish will face their biggest test of the season so far when they travel to Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis this weekend to open Big Ten play against the seventh-ranked Minnesota Gophers.
The Irish have been fantastic on the road as of late, as they are 2-0-0 so far this season and had an amazing 9-2-1 mark last season. That road record last season included two wins over Minnesota by scores of 3-2 and 2-1 when they were the top-ranked team in the country. The series between the Gophers and Irish has been highly contested since the Irish joined the Big Ten with Notre Dame leading the series by a record of 11-9-2. Fourteen of the last 17 meetings in the series have been decided by one goal or ended in a tie.
The Gophers have been slightly disappointing this season but have only lost to quality opponents. The Gophers currently have a 3-3 record that includes a loss to St. Cloud State and two losses to Minnesota-Duluth, who the Gophers lost to last weekend. Both St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth are currently ranked in the top five.
The puck will drop in Minneapolis at 9 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday. Friday’s game will be on Big Ten Network, while Saturday’s game can be viewed on Bally Sports North.