Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2021

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

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42 DECEMBER 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TODD D. BURLAGE L ooking back, Notre Dame junior Max Ellis freely admits now that the start to his Notre Dame hockey career didn't go anything like he had hoped, planned or expected. Plagued by injuries and illness, this elite Irish recruit barely played as an Irish freshman in 2019-20, a humbling experience for an USHL star forward who had never suffered any adversity through his youth hockey career. "As any player feels coming out of junior hockey, you tend to think that you're going in and you're going to play," Ellis explained. "And when you show up to the big leagues here in college, it's a reality check." With the pandemic beginning to rage and the Notre Dame campus on shut- down, Ellis humbly retreated back to Michigan to spend the 2020 summer with his family and reset his attitude and expectations. "Just knowing that I was going to get a chance to come back and play hockey at a higher level kept me motivated through those times," said Ellis, who never let his grades suffer and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the 2020-21 school year. "I learned a lot about myself." With the support of his parents and the hours of hard work he put in with his strength coach Tony Rolinski, the 5-foot-9 Ellis went from about 140 pounds as an incoming freshman to 170 pounds this season, and the added strength and bulk are paying off. After scoring only one goal in eight games as a freshman, Ellis tallied five goals and 11 assists last season as a sophomore and was named the team's Most Improved Player. And the way he's playing now, he might earn it again this season. Through 13 games, Ellis led the Irish with 10 goals, eight assists and 18 points. "I think [being named most improved player] instilled the confidence in me that my teammates and coaches saw the work that I had put in," Ellis said. A native of Canton, Mich., near Ann Arbor, committing to and then playing for Notre Dame in the Big Ten was at- tractive for Ellis because it allows his family to attend many of his games both home and away. In fact, his family was in attendance at the Yost Ice Arena Nov. 19, at the Uni- versity of Michigan, when Ellis recorded an assist in a 3-2 comeback victory over the Wolverines. And as an encore the following night, he recorded a hat trick against Michigan in a 5-4 win and a two-game sweep of the nation's top- ranked team. "The hat trick was very special, espe- cially considering it was in my home- town," Ellis said. "But I think getting the sweep with it made it that much more special." Even with the University of Michigan in his backyard, Ellis explained that his decision to leave home and attend Notre Dame was still a relatively easy one. " I m m e d i a te ly wh a t s ta n d s o u t about Notre Dame isn't even on the ice, it's off the ice," Ellis explained. "I was very honored to be a part of this program." ✦ Freshman Lessons Bring Junior Success For Hockey's Max Ellis Ellis, who was named Notre Dame's Most Improved Player a year ago, led the Irish with 10 goals, eight assists and 18 points through 13 games this season. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS ND SPORTS Irish Roundup FENCING (MEN 7-0, WOMEN 11-0) The Fighting Irish women notched four victories Nov. 21 at the Northwestern Invitational in Evanston, Ill., defeating Northwestern, Tufts, Denison and Long Island University. HOCKEY (10-3-0 OVERALL, 4-2-0 BIG TEN) No. 8 Notre Dame extended its win streak to six and completed a two-game road sweep of then- No. 1-ranked Michigan with a 5-4 overtime win Nov. 20 in Ann Arbor. MEN'S SOCCER (13-5-3 OVERALL, 4-2-2 ACC) Fourth-seeded Notre Dame blanked Villanova 3-0 in the second round of the NCAA Championship Nov. 21 in South Bend … The Fighting Irish advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 2018 and were set to face ACC foe Wake Forest Nov. 28 in South Bend. WOMEN'S SOCCER (14-6-2 OVERALL, 7-3-0 ACC) The third-seeded Fighting Irish were edged 3-2 by second-seeded Arkansas in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship Nov. 21 in Fayetteville, Ark. SWIMMING & DIVING Notre Dame wrapped up the fall portion of its schedule by competing in the Ohio State Invitational Nov. 18-20 in Columbus, Ohio … Both the men and the women notched fourth-place finishes. VOLLEYBALL (12-14 OVERALL, 9-7 ACC) The Fighting Irish registered a 3-0 home win over Virginia Tech Nov. 21 … Notre Dame will close out the regular season with match at Florida State Nov. 24 and Louisville Nov. 26. — Steve Downey

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