Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 50 of 55 NOV. 26, 2018 51 ND SPORTS BY TODD D. BURLAGE T he 2018-19 Notre Dame hockey season hasn't necessarily created any reason for panic through the first dozen games. But it also hasn't held up to the success enjoyed this time last year when the Irish were in the middle of a school-record 16-game winning streak and establishing dominance during their first season as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Notre Dame crashed the Big Ten party last year by becoming the first conference team ever to win every game in the first half of the league season, sweeping each of the two- game weekend matchups against all six conference opponents on the way to a 13-0 start in the league and a sweep of the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles. There have been no long winning streaks or signs of conference domi- nance so far this season. In fact, the Irish have hovered around the .500 mark almost all year. And that's okay, insists Irish junior forward and alternate team captain Cal Burke. "We've been playing some really good teams," said Burke, who has spent all of this season at or near the top of the Irish stat sheet in points (13, first), goals (six, tied for first), assists (seven, tied for first), shots (33, tied for first) and shot percentage (.182, third) through 10 contests. "And these games have been good to help us really find out what we need to improve on and how to be- come a really good team as we move forward." Notre Dame added nine new play- ers this season and lost its top three scorers from last year. Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said the task of blending this young group has put some self-imposed stress on Burke and the rest of the Irish veterans. "Guys like him, they know that we need to score," Jackson said. "So the guys that are our scorers put pres- sure on themselves, and they try to do too much. That's pretty typical." "There's a lot of pressure," Burke added. "And I'm trying to do my best, and sometimes I might be put- ting too much on myself." While the Irish try to find their foot- ing during what's been an adequate but not particularly stellar start to this season, the first week of January 2019 can't get here soon enough for Burke and hockey fans from all over the area when the Boston Bruins play the Chi- cago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Sta- dium on New Year's Day as part of the 2019 NHL Winter Classic. Set to become the first outdoor hockey game ever played at the sta- dium, this event hits close to home for Burke because he played his prep hockey in Massachusetts and became a Boston Bruins fan there. High school hockey in New Eng- land is what high school football is in the Midwest. "Hockey is champ," said Burke, who played at Noble and Greenough Prep School in Dedham, Mass., near Boston. "You don't get 5,000 people there to watch a football game." The bigger event for Burke and his teammates arrives at the stadium four days after the NHL game when Notre Dame will host rival Michigan Jan. 5 in the Let's Take This Outside 2019 outdoor game. Tickets remain available for both events. "That will be a game that we will always look back on and remember, especially playing against Michi- gan," Burke said. "This will be some- thing that will be really special to all of us." ✦ Junior Cal Burke Is Helping A Young Irish Hockey Team Find Its Way Burke led the team in points (13) through 10 contests, plus was tied for first in goals (six), assists (seven) and shots (33). PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH DIGITAL MEDIA

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