SOUTH BEND — Senior goaltender Cale Morris was named Sunday the Notre Dame hockey team’s most valuable player for the 2019-20 season by the school’s Monogram Club.
“It’s an honor to be receiving this award,” Morris said via text video from his home in Larkspur, Colorado. “I’d like to thank all my teammates and coaches for the hard work we put in this year, and a special thanks to the fans for an incredible four years here at Notre Dame.”
The announcement concluded a week of awards to players on coach Jeff Jackson’s team made over the school’s internet (und.com), Twitter (@NDHockey) and Instagram (nd_hockey) accounts. The annual postseason banquet was canceled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic which closed down the school to in-class education.
The Irish finished 15-15-7 after host Minnesota scored a 3-2 victory on Sunday, March 8 to capture the first-round Big Ten Tournament best-of-three series 2-1. The Irish finished fifth in the Big Ten’s regular season at 9-9-6-4 for 37 points, just one point behind runners-up Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota and four points behind regular-season champion Penn State.
Morris, who will receive his degree in business technology from the school’s Mendoza College of Business next month via an internet graduation ceremony, started 33 games for Notre Dame. He finished with a 2.42 goals-against average with a .916 saves-percentage and a 12-14-7 record with three shutouts. He made 37 saves in a 3-0 shutout victory against Penn State Dec. 14, had 19 saves in a 3-0 victory at Michigan Feb. 22 and stopped 12 shots in a 1-0 Big Ten playoff victory at Minnesota March 6.
As a sophomore, Morris was named a first-team All-American in helping lead the Irish to the NCAA runner-up finish to Minnesota Duluth. He won the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top goaltender while compiling a 27-8-1 record, a .944 saves percentage and 1.94 goals-against average.
During his career, Morris played in 105 games, had a 2.17 goals-against average, a .932 saves percentage and compiled 11 shutouts with a 58-35-11 record.
Senior captain Cal Burke earned the Compton Family Leadership in Service Award for the second straight season. Burke, an Academic All-Big Ten honoree the past two seasons while majoring in business analytics, serves on the school’s Student Athlete Advisory Council and has helped develop and launch the Irish Strong Initiative to help reduce the stigma around mental health and help-seeking.
The Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award was awarded to sophomore forward Alex Steeves, an accountancy major who has been on the school’s dean list all three semesters and this season led the Irish in scoring with 28 points on 11 goals and 17 assists.
The Brian Walsh Offensive Player of the Year, named for the program’s all-time leading scorer and former All-America center, was awarded to senior forward Cam Morrison, who finished his senior year with a team-high 13 goals and 27 points while also leading the club with a plus/minus rating of +10.
The Bill Nyrop Defensive Player of the Year, named for the late Irish All-America defenseman, was awarded to sophomore Nate Clurman, who finished the season with a +8 rating and a career-high nine assists.
The Charles “Lefty” Smith Coaches’ Award, honoring the late head coach and architect of the modern hockey program, was given to third-string junior goaltender Nick Sanford for his work ethic and willingness to help his teammates improve their skills.
The most improved player award went to sophomore defenseman Charlie Raith. After sitting out his freshman season, Raith became a starter on the blueline. He had a pair of goals, one assist and a +5 plus/minus rating skating in 36 games this season.
The rookie of the year award was given to freshman forward Trevor Janicke who finished with eight goals and 13 points. His final goal of the season provided the Irish with their last victory of the season, a 1-0 triumph over Minnesota in the playoffs.