Aside from puff pieces from the UND.com propaganda wing
the radio silence from the hockey program will be deafening until the fall.
It's too bad because I would at least like to hear some reasoning from the coaching staff as to what potential changes we can expect for the team to start moving in the right direction. I'm wondering about any number of things. I noticed here in Wisconsin the Madison paper sent the hockey beat writer to Columbus to cover the Badgers quarterfinal series and already has published the first post-season article about the state of the program. Somehow they manage to cover that even with a football and basketball program that are pretty successful, as well as a women's hockey team. What I wouldn't give for our local media to do a tenth of that.
For a coach who complains about being forced to play inexperienced players, why, when the season was clearly going no where, did Jackson not seek to find playing time for another goalie at all once Morris came off the injured list? What was there to lose? Nothing, as it turns out. If red-shirting St. Cyr was the way to go, the coaches must have had SOME confidence in Bishel, yet other than a couple of mop up appearances, he was on door duty since making one start when Notre Dame was in the midst of their worst stretch in 15 years. Hopefully the coaches found some way to convey they have at least a little confidence in him, or hopefully St. Cyr is going to be as good as Morris or Peterson or Pearce at their best.
What will be done to address the woeful scoring? The program has backtracked severely for two straight seasons on overall scoring and on goal differential. As a program Notre Dame should never be in the bottom half of both scoring and goal differential. A portion of that was the horrible inconsistency Morris showed in net this year, but that just brings to mind the question of why the other netminders were not given a chance. Even then, the offense was terrible for too many games. We can make almost any team look like they have Richter award winner in net or New jersey Devils circa 2000 defense.
What is going to be done to ensure that we never see a penalty kill as bad as Notre Dame's was in the first 2/3rds of the season? Even as well as it had turned a corner over the 6 games before giving up 2 PP goals today it finished the season rated just 47th. When you can't score many PP goals of your own, and you're 5X5 play nets you under 2 goals a game, you better find a way to be successful killing penalties.
What is the staff doing to better manage the roster? By nature you have players for a defined amount of time, and turnover is ever-present. But if you consider a player inexperienced until they are a seasoned upperclassman, what are you doing to maintain a pipeline of 3rd and 4th year players, or what are you going to do to find a way to do what every other good college program does, winning with players from all 4 classes. Minnesota is more inexperienced than Notre Dame, and their season continues. Inexperience is a tired excuse and if Jackson coached basketball or football at Notre Dame the media would have a field day with him for trotting that meme out almost as if on cue.
I tried hard to find some positives in this season, but truthfully what were the positives? Alex Steeves responded pretty well to an expanded role to lead the team in scoring, but he only netted 28 points, about half what the team leader managed 3 years ago. It's also the fewest points any scoring leader had in the Big Ten this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see Steeves improve even more next year. Spencer Stastney had a good year and was Notre Dame's best overall D-man, and will be counted on next year to lead the defensive corps.
The Irish will have 5 upperclassmen to choose from on the blueline (Stastney, Nick Leivermann, Nate Clurman, Charlie Raith and Matt Hellickson) so maybe that will be experienced enough. Of course the netminder will have little or no experience... And what to do with Matt Hellickson to get him back on track? He struggled badly this year. Is it a pairing issue? If the coaching staff is going to run a guy out there as many minutes as that, he simply has to be more effective. His +/- is currently worse than any other player in the league. He's a better defender than he showed this year. Find him a defensive partner that works well or don't put him out there 20 minute a game.
When Jackson arrived at Notre Dame the program had no relevance to the sport. It had one tournament appearance and a couple of near misses. Right away he turned it into something with potential. We were then led to believe the only thing separating Notre Dame from the true elites of the sport were modern facilities. Well, much like is frequently pointed out on one of the other boards around here, he's been given everything he has asked for. Since his arrival, 4 different programs have claimed their school's first ever title. One has turned into one of the actual elite programs. And while winning a title is a bit of a crap shoot, it's not ENTIRELY a crap shoot. The fact is we're no closer to seeing one now in year 15 than we were in year 2. I think it is fair to ask why.