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January 15, 2013

Irish nurse injury issues

Roster transition has been normal for the Notre Dame hockey team over the last couple weeks.

Since the Irish returned from holiday break they have welcomed back some pieces while losing others to injury and sickness. Freshman winger Mario Lucia returned from Russia with a gold medal after playing for the U.S. squad in the World Junior Championship. Forward Garrett Peterson is back on campus after spending the first semester way for “personal reasons.”

But on the other hand, winger Jeff Costello is out indefinitely with an upper body injury and forward Sam Herr is sidelined with mono.

“It opens up doors for other guys,” Jackson said. “The sad thing is Herr is not available. Right now with Costello out he would be getting some games. Garrett Peterson is back practicing with us and he’s still getting acclimated. He hasn’t played hockey in nine months.”

Peterson underwent “major” shoulder surgery back in the spring, Jackson said. Meanwhile, forward David Gerths missed some time with a mysterious lung issue and defenseman Shayne Taker is nursing an injury to a delicate area.

Taker blocked a puck against Michigan State last weekend and paid a painful price.

“It’s one of those man injuries,” Jackson said, “let’s put it that way.”

Since starting the season back up again Jackson has been tinkering with line combinations and special teams units thanks to the various absences. Combined with a long layoff, results have been sketchy.

Fourth-ranked Notre Dame (15-6-0, 11-2-0-0 CCHA) has scored just three goals in three games, two of which have been losses, heading into a one-game road trip tonight against Bowling Green (6-10-5, 3-7-3-1 CCHA). Alaska will arrive in South Bend later this week for a regular league series.

After splitting with Michigan State last weekend the Irish hold a one-point lead over Miami for first place in the conference. Nine points are available this week alone.

“Right now our focus is the CCHA and getting as many points as possible,” captain Anders Lee said. “And not taking any game for granted because in the past we’ve been close to winning. Like my freshman year, we were close to winning then and a couple games earlier in the year would’ve been real big for that. We’re trying to take every game and take advantage of it.”

Finding more offense despite some depth issues up front will help in the point collection department.

In the three games since returning from break the Irish have scored a single goal each time, only a Steven Summerhays shutout away from returning from the road winless. Getting a little more preparation and practice time should help as the routine becomes more, well, routine.

“We’re not as crisp as we were before break but after being off for a month that’s probably expected,” Jackson said. “We really haven’t had, with the exception of the first week back, we’ve had five practices before we played Minnesota. We’ve only had a couple since.

“We’re playing teams with very little preparation time, which hurts us because we try to prepare for special teams, we try to prepare for face off situations Tactically, we try to play our game.”


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