Feb 19, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
After having their three-game winning streak routed by the #3 Miami Redhawks on Friday night, the Irish came back with a big win at an even bigger venue; the Irish lost 3-1 in Oxford, Ohio, but they were able to pull out a victory on the 50-yard line at Soldier Field in front of 52,000 fans. The series split this weekend has left the Irish in good standing in the CCHA, putting them only a point behind second place Western Michigan, and three points behind Miami. The win Sunday afternoon also gave the Irish a first round bye in the CCHA playoffs. This weekend showed that the Fighting Irish can play with and beat the best teams in the nation. Now, for a few reflections on this weekend’s tilts:
- Power Play may have been stifled, but Penalty Kill was hot. The Irish were a very unimpressive 0-9 on power play opportunities this weekend. In their Friday night loss, the Fighting Irish failed to convert on the six different man-advantage opportunities they had. Was it a reason for the loss? Well, that’s difficult to say, but it sure wouldn’t have hurt to convert once or twice. Despite that, the Irish penalty kill came through in the clutch. A marked showing came at the end of the first period (and into the early second) of Sunday’s game when the Irish Icers killed off a five minute major penalty. If you remember, Mike Voran’s five minute major penalty against Ohio State proved to be the Achilles’ heel for the Irish on Feb. 1; they allowed three goals to be scored by the Buckeyes on that one penalty. This time, the Irish not only killed off the penalty, but popped in an even strength right after it. Quite a turn for the better.
- Seven Irish Icers play in front of hometown crowd. As a hockey player, there are few things more disheartening than playing a big game and not seeing a soul in the stands. Conversely, there are few things better than playing a big game in front of your hometown fans. It has a way of giving you an energy that no pre-game speech, or carbohydrate-heavy meal can. Seven members of the Fighting Irish Hockey team got to experience this feeling over the weekend, being Chicagoland natives themselves. This hometown crowd may have giving the Irish the heart they needed to pull through in the waning moments of the third period Sunday afternoon.
The Irish take on arguably their biggest challenge this coming weekend, taking on the Western Michigan Broncos in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Broncos are just a single point ahead of the Irish in CCHA standings, so this weekend has the potential to bring Notre Dame closer to a first place finish. Although the Irish have already clinched a postseason bye, they need to look ahead for seeding purposes. The Irish have the talent, depth, and goaltending to make postseason play interesting; let’s hope they bring their A-game this weekend.
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