After a week off for the Notre Dame Men’s Hockey team, it was time to welcome in the Wisconsin Badgers. Coming into this past weekend’s games, the Irish had won a resounding 15 games in a row. They had also set the standard for coming into the B1G, with a twelve game winning streak. The previous record, set by Minnesota in 2013-2014, was 8-0-2. The Fighting Irish have definitely made their presence known in the new conference. Let’s drop the puck and review this weekend’s games.
In front of a capacity (5,630) crowd at Compton Family Ice Arena, The Irish faced off against a quick-firing Badgers squad. Notre Dame’s defense withstood the early attack and the attack light the lamp first on a power play goal by Andrew Oglevie at 7:08. The Badgers responded with a bevy of shots but came up empty-handed and the sides battled back-and-forth with goals by Jake Evans and Andrew Peeke (ND) and Trent Frederic (WI) to put The Irish in front, 3-1, going into the second.
The second period was about defense. Both teams traded blows and pushed the puck up and down the ice. It was a classic defensive battle. Towards the end of the period a dust-up occurred to the left of Notre Dame’s goalie, Cale Morris, and two Badgers picked up two-minute minors for “roughing after the whistle.” The Irish, though, got the worst of the penalties as Cam Morrison and Justin Wade got tagged for “roughing after the whistle.” Wade was also flagged for a five-minute “contact to the head” and a ten minute “game misconduct.” The period ended with a stuffed sin bin (penalty box) on both sides and no change in score.
The third period started with the Badgers coming out and taking ten shots and two would be on goal. The second shot gets by Morris and the Irish lead shrinks by one to 3-2 by the goal by Tarek Baker. Towards the end of the third period The Badgers opt for the extra attacker at 18:10. The Fighting Irish first attempt at the empty net is by Burke which is blocked by the Badgers Ryan Wagner. At 19:22 Dawson Cook cannot be denied his empty net goal and ices the the Fighting Irish victory 4-2. Your 3 stars: 3) Trent Frederic (W) 2) Andrew Peeke 1) Andrew Oglevie
No opening statement was made by Coach Jeff Jackson. A question was asked to Coach Jackson. “Coach Jackson 16 wins in a row, how do you keep the guys focused after a long break, and keep focused on getting better?” Coaches response; “Since we have been back from Christmas break, we tried to make things competitive. Cause when you have time off, it becomes a factor. We learned that lesson a few years ago, when we had a bye week in the Hockey East Playoffs. Northeastern came in here and kicked our butts. I don’t think we did enough to compete and get ready for them. And I knew it was going to be tough against Michigan and again against Wisconsin. These are all trying to get position in the standings and that’s a good hockey team we played there. They were picked second in the conference and they are of that caliber. That was a tough game to grind through. I thought the guys did a good job holding the fort in the third period, we didn’t give up a whole lot. We did a real good job on that five-minute major too.”
Wisconsin Redux. On Sunday, Notre Dame looked to repeat Friday’s success, this time on the Chicago Blackhawk’s home ice. In front of a crowd of 9,313, both teams skated into an electric atmosphere.
The Badgers came to play and it showed early. The Badgers also made a goalie change from Friday evenings game. Jack Berry was the new net minder for the Badgers. The Fighting Irish appeared to be sluggish at the start of the game. On the other side, the Badgers were just relentless on their shooting of the puck. They attempted 30 shots in which 17 were on target. Though Morris made 16 saves, Wyatt Kalynuk slipped one by Morris at 15:07. On the other side of the ice, Berry was on fire in the goalie spot. The Irish had 20 shots attempted, in which 16 were on target. The Irish were taking quality shots, but nothing was getting by Berry. It seemed as though he knew where and when the Irish were going to shot from. After one period of play the Badgers led 1-0.
The second period was almost a repeat of the first. The Badgers once again came out in a flurry of activity as they attempted 21 shots. The Badgers were on a mission. They wanted to capitalize on their 1-0 lead and they did. Though the Irish were shooting on goal, they could not solve the mystery of Berry. They had eight shots on goal early that were stopped by Berry. All of those shots came before the 7:41 mark of the period. The Irish had ten shots on goal the entire period. At 14:05, Trent Frederic would score a short-handed goal to put the Badgers up 2-0. The Irish power play was also coming up short and could not capitalize on the man advantage. At 19:11 Seamus Malone would score a power play goal and the Badgers go up 3-0 just before the end of the period.
If the Irish were going to make a move, it was going to require a quick start to the third period. The Irish came out of the locker room and put four early shots on goal. Berry was playing out of his mind. He was going to deny the Irish on this Sunday. The Irish then go on a power play in which they had three shots on goal and again were denied. At 19:23 the Badgers would light the lamp again. This time by Linus Weissbach, to make the score 4-0. After penalties on both teams, a 4-4 match up would lead to the fifth goal of the game by the Badgers Sean Dhooghe. The Badgers win this game decisively by a score of 5-0. The 3 stars: 3) Sean Dhooghe (W) 2) Wyatt Kalynuk (W) 1) Jack Berry (W)
No opening statement was made by Coach Jeff Jackson. A question was asked to Coach Jackson “Coach, your first loss in 16 games, we talked about on Friday night, we knew it was going to happen along the road. Now that it has happened you just need to press the reset button. What was the message to the guys? Coach Jackson’s response; “well that’s exactly what I told them after the game. They wanted it more than we did tonight and we are going to be facing that the rest of the way. Teams with that kind of intensity level. I thought we were doing okay, but that short-handed goal pretty much changed the whole game. Our special teams in total have been great for us, especially on the penalty kill. But tonight they took advantage of opportunities on special teams which made a huge difference.”
This coming weekend the Fighting Irish Hockey team take to the road as they play the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. Good Luck Team and #GoIrish