Its been 201 days since the Fighting Irish faced Minnesota Duluth in the Frozen Four Final. That is a night that the Fighting Irish had back. That is the past, and now it’s about the future, The Fighting Irish are a transformed team. Jake Evans signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens, Jordan Gross signed with the Arizona Coyotes, Dennis Gilbert signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, and Andrew Oglevie signed with the Buffalo Sabres. Those are some big skates to fill.
The 2018/19 campaign is seen as a year of rebuilding. The Irish introduce nine Freshman to the team. Four Defensemen and five Forwards are now part of the Fighting Irish roster. There is a brother combination on the team. Cam Burke Freshman, is the younger brother of Junior Forward Cal Burke. Just Because it’s a rebuilding season, doesn’t mean that the Fighting Irish are going to just throw in the towel. This team is going to defend their B1G Championship until the end.
The first period played very physical. Both teams kept pressing each other against the boards. The blows against the boards rattled around the arena. Bringing the Irish fans to their feet every time they dealt a check to the Bulldogs. Like Michigan did last year, the Bulldogs were sending the puck at Morris from all angles. Morris was not having any of it get past him, though the Bulldogs just kept on firing. They fired 21 shots of which only 10 were on target.
ND had similar success. Though they only fired twelve shots, eight of them were on target. Higher percentage shots versus shots from other vantage points. The goalless first period, proved that these two teams were still a good match-up.
The second period opened with the Bulldogs out shooting the Irish five to two. On the sixth shot by the Bulldogs at 3:54, Parker Mackey got it by Cale Morris to put the Bulldogs up 1-0. After the Bulldog goal, the assault continued. The Bulldogs took another four shots but that didn’t matter as the Irish go on the power play after the Bulldogs are called for interference at 5:16.
Andrew Peeke (C) gets the puck and sticks it in the back of the net at 6:35 to score on the Power Play. The Bulldogs out shout the Irish 9-1 over a six-minute period. Though being out shot b the Bulldogs, the Irish score again in the second period, this time Colin Theisen sticks in the net at 14:15, to give the Irish their first lead of the game 2-1. The Bulldogs out shot the Irish 26-10, but its quality versus quantity and the Irish had the lead 2-1 going into the last period.
The third period was like déjà vu all over again. After controlling the puck for a majority of the first 12 minutes of the game. The Irish get a power play opportunity, the Bulldogs gain control f the put and score a short-handed goal. this was a huge momentum swing for the Bulldogs. Equalizing the score at two all, swung the momentum in the Bulldogs favor. After the goal, the Irish managed to control puck for a short period of time. At 17:05 Dylan Samberg puts the puck on and it makes it to the back of the net. That would be enough for the Bulldogs to win 3-2.
Cale Morris despite allowing three goals, managed to stop 36 of them and Morris maintains a .912 save percentage. The Bulldogs attempted 72 shots, 36 of which were on target. Though this is a tough loss, the Irish will learn from this and use this lesson somewhere down the road in the season.
The Irish are back in action Saturday night at 5 PM EST against UMD Bulldogs and will be televised on NBCSN.
Cheer and Go Irish!