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Notre Dame’s Cale Morris is unlikely to be available for the Irish this weekend against Air Force. Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA

Senior goaltender Cale Morris is expected to miss No. 8 Notre Dame’s first two regular-season hockey games this weekend against visiting Air Force with what coach Jeff Jackson termed an “upper-body” injury.

Morris suffered the injury in preseason workouts and did not dress for Sunday’s 4-2 exhibition victory over the U.S. National Under-18 team in Plymouth, Mich. Freshman Ryan Bischel started Sunday, allowed two goals in the first 11 minutes of the game and then blanked the National Under-18s the rest of the way, finishing with 17 saves.

“It’s not a major injury; it’s just a minor thing,” Jackson said Monday on media day for the Irish, who play the Falcons on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3. “This time of the year it’s better to be precautionary, especially with the bye week (next week) to make sure he’s healthy before we throw him in there.”

Morris, a unanimous preseason All-Big Ten pick by the coaches, had an outstanding sophomore season in 2017-18 when he won All-America honors and the Mike Richter Award as college hockey’s outstanding goalie. The Irish reached the NCAA Championship game before losing to Minnesota Duluth.

Last season, Morris’ play down the stretch and into the playoffs helped the Irish earn a fourth straight NCAA tournament berth. He was named the Big Ten Tournament MVP after a 4-0 playoff run through Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State.

An academic All-Big Ten honoree, Morris enters his senior season with 2,220 career saves, a 938 save percentage and a 2.07 goals-against average and is 46-21-4. He is serving this season as an alternate captain.

Jackson indicated Bischel would start one of the games this weekend and that the Irish hope to redshirt junior Dylan St. Cyr, Morris’ backup the last two season. The Irish coach also said he may give junior Nick Sanford, who has shown improvement over the summer, a start this weekend.

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