Irish hockey team runs win streak to nine

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Sophomore right wing Cal Burke scored two goals and sophomore goaltender Cale Morris made 40 saves as fourth-ranked Notre Dame won its ninth straight game Saturday night with a 5-2 Big Ten Conference hockey victory over sixth-ranked Minnesota on the Lefty Smith Rink at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Sophomore defenseman Tory Dello, senior center Jake Evans and sophomore Mike O’Leary also scored goals for Notre Dame. Evans, with two assists, had a three-point night as did sophomore left wing Cam Morrison, who had three assists.

The fourth straight weekend sweep left coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish at 12-3-1 and unbeaten in their first Big Ten season at 6-0 heading into two straight league road series to end their first semester — at Michigan State Dec. 1-2 and Wisconsin Dec. 8-9. The Gophers (9-5-1, 3-3-1-1 Big Ten), coached by former Notre Dame defenseman Don Lucia, play host to the Badgers Friday and Saturday.

Morris, who stopped 44 shots in Friday’s 1-0 victory, allowed a pair of power-play goals by Mike Szmatula. Szmatula’s first goal ended a 141:08-minute goal-less string by the opposition stretching over four games.

Morris, 11-1 between the pipes this season, has started all nine games in the streak that began with a 5-4 non-conference victory over Omaha on Oct. 27 and includes Big Ten sweeps against Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota with a sweep at Rensselaer sprinkled in. He has allowed just 13 goals in the nine games and stopped 309 of 322 shots.

His counterpart for Minnesota, Eric Schierhorn, made 30 saves Saturday night.

The Irish jumped to a 1-0 lead 1:36 into the game when Burke converted off passes from Evans and Morrison.

But four penalties — all against the Irish — kept Morris and Notre Dame’s defenders busy in the first 20 minutes. The Irish penalty-killing unit was successful on its 23rd straight chance but Szmatula ended that streak and Morris’ goal-less string at 15:13 of the first period.

Dello scored his first goal at 2:45 of the second period with assists from Jordan Gross and Jack Jenkins, and Evans made it 3-1 at 12:09 off feeds from Morrison and Colin Theisen. Szmatula cut the margin back to one at 15:44 of the period with another power-play goal.

Burke (9:56), set up by Evans and Morrison, and O’Leary (15:01), with Dennis Gilbert and Bo Brauer assisting, completed the scoring for the Irish.