Four teams have descended upon Erie this weekend for the Ice Breaker tournament. Host Mercyhurst University welcomed national powers in Providence, Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio) to Erie Insurance Arena for a two-day tournament. On day one, Providence squared off with Miami and Mercyhurst had a shot at Notre Dame.
Game one demonstrated why Providence is one of the best teams in the country. Despite giving up the first six shots of the game, Providence withstood the early RedHawks’ surge and then swarmed their way to a convincing 4-0 win. Swarmed may not be a strong enough word.
The Friars gave no time and space to the RedHawks all game. Despite allowing seven power plays against, the Friars still looked like the better team down a man.
After the initial six-shot onslaught, the Friars scored on their first two shots and never looked back. Oilers’ prospect Hayden Hawkey recorded a 24-save shutout. Providence would now await the winner of Mercyhurst/Notre Dame.
Many expected the Irish to cruise through this game. Except it was anything but easy. The Lakers opened a two-goal lead in the second period. However a five-minute major at the start of the third gave the Irish just what they needed and they capitalized thanks to Cal Burke.
Burke recorded a natural hat trick in the third period including two goals on the five-minute major to put the Irish in the lead twice. Yet every time they went up, the Lakers found an answer.
🎥 Highlights from last night's 6-6 tie and shootout win 🆚 Mercyhurst pic.twitter.com/If3QsisgDu
— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) October 13, 2018
Regulation ended 6-6. Overtime solved nothing but Irish goalie Cale Morris stoned the Lakers twice late in overtime to preserve the tie. Both teams get a tie in their record thanks to it being a tournament game. The shootout was needed to see who advanced to the title game Saturday night.
Notre Dame defenseman Bobby Nardella scored the only goal of the shootout to lift the Irish to Saturday’s championship game against Providence. Number two and number four will hook up in October. Perhaps we have an NCAA tourney preview.
Andrew Peeke Talks About Becoming a Captain
On Sept 3, the Irish named defenseman Andrew Peeke their new captain. Considering the early resume he has, it was the right choice. Peeke has a World Junior bronze medal and a Big 10 championship under his belt. He also came within a game of a national championship. His experience on the big stage has stood out.
Peeke spoke to us after their 6-6 tie in their first game of the icebreaker tournament. How did he find out that he was going to be the captain?
“Early in the school year about early September, we had a team meeting and announced I was going to be captain,” Peeke said. “Me and coach talked a little bit before. I had a pretty good clue I was going to be but it was made official then. It’s obviously a huge honor for me being able to be captain of Notre Dame especially when you look at some of the previous guys like Anders Lee, Jake Evans, Cal Petersen. Being able to represent Notre Dame with the captaincy is really important for me.”
Peeke’s obviously taken steps to improve his leadership. He was asked how he’ll approach leading on the ice and in the locker room.
“I’m just trying to continue being myself. I think that’s what’s gotten me to be the captain and continue to lead by example and do the right things. When there’s a time to speak up, I’ll speak up. I have the responsibility now to get the guys going and be positive. So I’ll just continue to be myself and when the time comes to speak up, I’ll do that.”
What did Peeke focus on this summer and seen results on?
“Continuing to get strong and filling in my body. I think I put on more muscle weight this summer than I have in my entire life. I think it’s shown for me being able to play with a physical edge in the defensive zone. Also first step movement is very important for me for getting off my stoppages really quickly. Being in the gym and working out this summer has really helped me.”
Peeke and the Irish made it to the championship game last season. I asked him what he learned about himself going through that kind of experience given how it ended.
“I learned a lot of things”, Peeke said. “I think I started out the year too slow and throughout the year I picked myself up. This year I’m trying to start off strong. I’m the leader of this team now and being able to start off strong and lead by example is really going to help the young guys we have.”
— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) October 13, 2018
What priorities does Peeke have this season to improve on?
I want to win those puck battles in front of the net and in the corners. Offensively I want to work on my shooting and getting more pucks to the net.”
And finally, I asked him what kind of communication he’s had with the Blue Jackets.
“I stay in contact with Chris Clark. We talk about it when he comes he lets me know (about my game). He gives me some things to work on and things I can improve.”
Peeke is ready for the challenge in front of him. He and the Irish will face Providence Saturday night at Erie Insurance Arena in a battle of two powerhouses. Afterwards they will head to Nebraska-Omaha for a two-game set Oct 19-20 before hosting Minnesota Duluth the following weekend.