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Reflections: Alaska Weekend

Jan 24, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT

photo by Matt Cashore

I suppose there’s no other way to say it; the Irish hockey team is in a slump. This past weekend, the #4 ranked Irish dropped both games to Alaska; this means they’ve lost five of their last six games. This was the first time all season the Fighting Irish have lost a series, and to make it worse, they lost them both at the Compton—it felt like salt in the wound. Sure, the Irish did not get pummeled or man-handled; they put up two very good fights. But the fact of the matter is, they still lost. These are some reflections on why, in my own opinion, our Notre Dame boys have not been getting the W on the score sheet.

  • Momentum Swings. First and foremost, the Fighting Irish have not been able to hold on to the momentum. The capstone example of this happened in the Friday night heartbreaking loss to Alaska. Of course, the Alaska goal with three seconds left did more than just wipe away momentum (it drained spirits too), but that is not the play I have in mind. I’d like to bring up the short-handed, breakaway goal scored by T.J. Tynan. A stretch-pass breakaway is a huge momentum swing in itself, as is a short-handed goal. But the two of these combined into a single play should have had the Lefty Smith Rink tilted in the Irish’s favor. What happened instead? The Nanooks went right back down and popped a goal by Steven Summerhays; completely and totally diminishing the momentum and energy gained by the Irish. This defined the game, and indeed, the weekend.
  • Key Player Injuries. It did not help the Irish’s case that Jeff Costello and Mike Voran were both out of the line-up. Voran’s name and number may not always appear on the score sheet, but he has been an instrumental player in many Irish victories this year. In the same manner, the Irish greatly missed the physical presence of Jeff Costello up front. Costello is the type of player who can stir things up on the ice and he is definitely a momentum shifter (possible relation to point number one?)

The Irish come out this weekend at home against Ferris State. These very well could be the two most important games of the season. Just as a game has elements of momentum involved in it, so too does a season. The Fighting Irish have an opportunity to turn their fortunes around and get the seasonal momentum back in their favor. Let’s see how they respond.

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