Trevor Janicke’s goal spree has others taking notice at Notre Dame

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent
Notre Dame's Trevor Janicke (27) tries to get past Boston College's Patrick Giles (24) during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA men's hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

SOUTH BEND — With each goal he has scored during his breakout junior hockey campaign, Notre Dame right wing Trevor Janicke adds a new member to his fan club.

Janicke’s 10th goal of the season last Saturday night during No. 12 Notre Dame’s 3-2 overtime Big Ten Conference victory against visiting Minnesota at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena impressed one new Irish hockey fan in particular.

Janicke, who watched Notre Dame football games with his freshman brother Justin and Irish hockey alum father Curtis (1989-93) while growing up in Maple Grove, Minnesota, was enthusiastically applauded by none other than Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame’s new football coach.

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“I’ve known the Notre Dame Fight Song (Victory March) since I was 2 years old,” Janicke said. “From day one, I’ve always been a Notre Dame fan. Whenever Notre Dame came to Minnesota to play hockey, we’d try to get tickets. I had some interest from Minnesota, but for me it was always Notre Dame. There was no question where I wanted to go.”

Trevor Janicke gets comfortable in new role

In his first season (2018-19) in South Bend after playing in the United States National Team Development Program, the 5-foot-10, 196-pound Janicke had eight goals and five assists for 13 points. Last season, he had four, six and 10. 

Now Trevor Janicke has 10 goals and five assists for a career-high 15 points during a breakout season for coach Jeff Jackson’s 18-8-0 Irish, who are solidly in fourth place with 26 points in the Big Ten and play host to fifth-place Penn State (14-13-1, 5-12-1 Big Ten for 17 points) at 7:30 Friday night and 6 p.m. 

Janicke has been more comfortable in his goal-scoring role since moving in early November from center to right wing on a line with center Graham Slaggert and left wing Landon Slaggert, the hard-working sons of associate head coach Andy Slaggert. 

Notre Dame right wing Trevor Janicke (27) celebrates after  a second period goal against Minnesota at the Compton Family Ice Arena Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in South Bend.

“It took us a little time to find that chemistry,” Janicke said. “After Christmas, we’ve become more comfortable with each other. Graham has that speed and playmaking ability. Landon and I are more grittier players. It’s a good combination.”

For Jackson, the move was a no-brainer. “We’ve talked to Trevor about making plays when he’s under pressure,” Jackson said. “He’s taken a stride there. That’s why we moved him to center, to take him away from those pressure situations. Now he’s starting to use his body more — he’s a very strong kid. He’s really started to come on well which is good to see, and he works really hard as a leadership guy.”

It's important to his coach, too, that Janicke also works hard in the classroom. The 132nd player selected in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks also has Academic All-Big Ten credentials and carries a 3.8 grade-point average in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business majoring in business analytics with a minor in entrepreneurship.

The fact that Janicke has been joined this season by 6-foot, 184-pound brother Justin, also a USNTD alum, might have helped him take his game to another level.

“The best part has been to play at Notre Dame with him — that was always a dream of ours,” Trevor said of playing with Justin, who has three assists in 20 games and is one of the youngest players in Division I hockey at 18 years and seven-plus months. “It’s cool living the same life. We’ve never been on the same team before. He’s obviously my best friend, and we push each other — we’ve always been competitive with each other.”

Janicke, who had two-goal outings in Irish victories at Northern Michigan and in shutout victories over RIT and Niagara, has a goal in each of Notre Dame’s last three games — an 8-2 victory over Boston College (in which he also had an assist) and one each in the two games against Minnesota last weekend. 

Saturday’s was a thing of beauty. It came in front of the Notre Dame Band and the student section where Freeman was entertaining some football recruits.

With time running out in the first period and Notre Dame already up 1-0, Graham Slaggert won a faceoff draw in the Irish defensive zone from Ben Meyers, one of Minnesota’s three Olympians on the ice at the time. Defenseman Spencer Stastney gathered the puck and dropped it off the boards behind goalie Ryan Bischel to Janicke, who started up ice and then returned the puck to Stastney as the Irish began their transition up ice.

Minnesota freshman left wing Matthew Knies, a second Olympian, made a move toward Stastney, but the Irish defenseman banged a pass off the boards at center ice that Graham Slaggert gathered up as he entered the Minnesota zone.

Minnesota’s third Olympian, defenseman Brock Faber, came over to challenge Slaggert, who quickly passed the puck to brother Landon in the faceoff circle. Landon Slaggert then hit the streaking and unguarded Janicke in the other faceoff circle, and Janicke quickly directed the puck over the glove hand of Minnesota goalie Justen Close into the net at 16:45.

“It wasn’t my best shot. I tried to get it off quick,” Janicke admitted. 

Best didn’t matter. The shot found net and helped the Irish eventually win.