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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

HOCKEY: Irish lose two on Colorado road trip

Two nights. Two top-ten opponents. Two losses.

The Notre Dame hockey team opened its season Friday and Saturday with games on the road against No. 4 Colorado College and No. 9 Denver.

The Irish dropped a 3-1 decision to the Tigers and fell 6-3 to the Pioneers.

"I knew it was going to be difficult," Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. "I wish we could have done better, but on the other hand, from Friday night to Saturday night, we were a much better team."

After being out-shot 40-13 by Colorado College, the Irish closed to within four shots, 23-19, against Denver.

"We out-chanced Denver 5 on 5," Jackson said. "That's the result of us doing a much better job playing without the puck and a much better job of not turning it over when we have it."

Poor penalty killing doomed the Irish in both games. Jackson was not satisfied by Notre Dame's special teams play after the Colorado College game and made several changes to the lineup.

"I sat a few guys out from Friday to Saturday night [because of performance]," Jackson said. "The guys I sat out happened to be penalty killers. We only practice ten guys at penalty kill, and after I sat six of them, that left only four. Then T.J. Jidra, who's one of our top penalty killers, got injured. The players that I had to remove from the lineup for penalty killing hurt us, but we didn't have time to practice too many people on penalty kill.

"Then we changed the lineup around because of those line changes and that disrupted power plays."

Despite the changes, the Pioneers scored two power play goals and two shorthanded goals.

In order to end up in the win column in the future, Jackson said his team needs work offensively.

"I don't see that we have any pure scorers on this team. It's a weakness," he said. "It's something we have to work on developing, and it means we have to find other ways to be more productive and do some things well in other parts of our game so that we have better chances to score."

The Irish held Colorado College scoreless in the first period Friday night, but the Tigers exploded for two second-period goals. Colorado College thoroughly dominated the period, out-shooting the Irish 14-1. Thirty-two seconds into the third period, the Tigers scored again on a power play. Notre Dame got its lone goal of the game on a Victor Oreskovich slap shot at the 13:38 mark of the third period.

Saturday night, Notre Dame scored three goals but could not stop the Pioneers. Denver All-American Matt Carle opened the scoring in the first period. Carle would finish the game with one goal and three assists.

The Pioneers added to their lead nine minutes into the second period. Notre Dame struck back on a goal by Wes O'Neill.

Denver scored on a power play to make it 3-1, but the Irish struck back when Josh Sciba rebounded his own missed shot and found the back of the net.

Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the Pioneers caught fire in the third period, scoring two goals in the first twelve minutes.

The Irish would get one more, a power play goal by Noah Babin, but it was too little too late.

The Irish added gold helmets to their uniforms for the first time since the 1975-76 season. The helmets, which bear no logo, are meant to be similar to those worn by the football team.

The Irish hockey team will be back in action Friday and Saturday at the Joyce Center against Princeton.