The Fighting Irish are now in the home stretch of their hockey season at Compton Family Ice Arena. Last weekend, the Fighting Irish split the weekend match-up against the Buckeyes. At this point in the season, the Fighting Irish need to be preparing themselves for post season play. The offense should be passing the puck crisp, making smart passes and wearing down their opponents defense. The defense should be working on getting the puck out of their opponent’s offensive end and not playing like every defensive possession as if their opponent is on the power play. More importantly, the Irish defense needs to be helping out their amazing goalie Cale Morris.
Unfortunately, the Irish feel short of this on Friday night in a 4-2 defeat to Michigan.
Physical play is one way to establish control of the game and Michigan definitely established that style of play in the first period. The Wolverines established control on their offensive end of the ice with eight shots on goal in the first seven minutes of the period. Cale Morris stood tall and was once again seeing the puck, stopping the continuous attempts. The Irish drove the puck at the Wolverines goalie, Hayden Lavigne as well, but were stymied to just three in the same time frame.
A few minutes later, Adam Winborg, put the puck in the net from the front of the crease to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead. A few moments later, the Wolverines once again put a shot on Cale Morris and Dexter Dancs from netted the goal at 15:40 from the left side, and put the Wolverines up 2-0.
At 17:41, the Irish got their first opportunity to go a man up on the power play, but it was short-lived as Andrew Oglevie was sent to the penalty box for hooking. During the 4-on-4, Michigan once again established control on their offensive end to the point that it seemed the Irish were on a self-induced defensive penalty kill.
In an effort to create some offense, the Irish pulled Morris for an extra attacker as the period ended with a delayed Wolverines penalty that was enforced at the start of the second period.
The Irish came out of the first intermission with something to prove. The Irish cut their deficit in half at 1:27 when Joe Wegwerth found the back of the net. Just when the majority of the 5,993 in attendance thought the Irish were taking control of the game back with some increased pressure of their own, Tony Calderone buries the puck in the net at 4:27 to put the Wolverines up 3-1.
At 5:30, Bo Brauer was sent to the penalty box for hooking, but the Irish killed the penalty, one of six killed on the evening.
After the successful penalty kill by the Irish, they ended up with their own power play at 8:20. Once again, the Irish power play failed to capitalize on the man advantage. That wouldn’t be their last opportunity on a power play in the second period. That power play did not last long, as, eight seconds into the power play, Bobby Nadella ripped a one-timer from the blue line and scored to bring the Irish back within one at 3-2 at the end of the period.
Similar to the second period, the Irish were putting shots on the Wolverines goalie, but nothing was going in. At 8:08, Michael Pastujov, assisted by his brother Nick, added an insurance goal that put the Wolverines up 4-2. From that point forward, the Wolverines went into defensive mode and Lavigne was not phased by the Irish attack, turning away 14 shots on goal in the period.
The Wolverines avenged their previous two losses to the Irish back in January, defeating the Irish fall at home 4-2.
Coach Jackson Post Game Conference
Discussion on continued low-level of play by the team spilling in from last weekend:
“A little bit, I feel we played much better after the first period. We made some bad plays defensively, defense-men getting trapped up the ice, and a few bad turnovers that led to goals. These are plays you can’t make against Michigan, especially their top two lines. We are playing play-off hockey, we are just not playing the way we were playing, and we need to get back to that. Cale made some big saves for us, one of my biggest concerns going into the playoffs, is giving up odd-man rushes. Over the last couple games we have given up more than our fair share and we have to clean that up. When we were playing well, were not giving up those odd man situations.”
Discussion on the Irish puck handling and second guessing themselves:
“Michigan puts a lot of pressure on you with their speed. they skate really well and you have less time to make a play. You have to move the puck quickly, in order to do that you need to have good puck support. The Morrison turnover–he threw it across the ice under pressure and they came right back up the ice and scored. The speed of the game creates turnovers, and that’s where we have to a better job of making safe plays when we are under duress. We just have to smart with the puck and our puck decisions.”