Notre Dame hockey: Jackson has long get-well list for ND

Steve Lowe
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND --After another tough weekend on the road, Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson touched on some of the issues his 18th-ranked Irish had at New Hampshire.

  • Not enough 5-on-5 goals.
  • Not converting on good scoring chances, like odd-man rushes and breakaways.
  • Special teams breakdowns.
  • Not getting enough players getting to the net in the offensive zone.

In contrast, that same list in reverse reads like a highlight reel for Irish opponents of late, particularly last weekend against UNH.

The Wildcats converted breakaways, scored twice on the power play and added a shorthanded goal while holding Notre Dame to 0-for-7 on the power play. UNH got plenty of traffic in front of ND goaltender Steven Summerhays for screens and tips. And despite fewer scoring chances, New Hampshire converted the opportunities it got to sweep the Irish, who are now 1-3 over their last four games.

Basically, everything Jackson wants to see more of from his own team.

"The scary thing is, we actually did some good things, offensively," Jackson said "On the weekend, we actually out-chanced them like 55-24. And we couldn't score."

The Irish came back each night to tie both games, but couldn't hold the lead. In Saturday's 5-2 loss, T.J. Tynan evened the game up in the second period, but UNH got the game-winner less than three minutes later, and shorthanded, no less.

Friday's 4-2 defeat was even tougher to swallow, as New Hampshire took back the lead in the third period just 29 seconds after Bryan Rust scored a shorthanded goal to even that game at 2-2.

"And then 30 seconds later, the puck goes off (Irish defenseman) Kevin Lind, and into our net," Jackson said, shaking his head. "That's frustrating. Ninety-five percent of the time, that's not going to happen. That's deflating, frankly.

"I think our guys know they're doing some good things, but it's like every break -- and you make your own breaks -- but every break's not going in our direction right now."

Notre Dame is 1-6 on the road and without a win away from Compton Family Ice Arena since Nov. 2 at Vermont. The bright spot is a 12-4-1 record at home, with two Hockey East games coming up this weekend at Compton against Maine.

The Black Bears are one of three teams between the eighth-place Irish and at least a fifth-place finish in the league, which would ensure a bye in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs in March.

The sweep at New Hampshire dropped Notre Dame four spots in the national polls, but also dropped them to 16th in the RPI, which places the Irish squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble and in need of as many wins down the stretch as they can muster.

So, if Notre Dame is going to have any chance at making it to the postseason, what needs to happen to right the ship?

"To tighten up our defensive game, first," Jackson said. "Because we may have to win games, 2-1. Eliminating those odd-man rushes, that's the first priority, in my opinion. And then hand-in-hand with that is going to be our special teams, probably, to have consistency there."

Blueline bits

After scoring a goal in each game at New Hampshire, sophomore left wing Mario Lucia continues to add to his career-high totals, now up to 15 goals (also tops on the team), seven power play goals, and 25 points. ... Senior center T.J. Tynan is three points away from tying Jamie Ling for 14th on ND's all-time scoring list. Tynan has 150 points in 151 career games. ... The five goals by New Hampshire on Saturday tied Notre Dame's season high for goals allowed in a game, matching the five No. 1 Minnesota scored on Nov. 9. ... Notre Dame is 5-1 in its last six games at home.