The next Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey player in our player profile series is goaltender Cale Morris. The sophomore from Illinois is a star in the making, having emerged as a more than suitable replacement for former ND netminder Cal Petersen, who announced in May he would be turning pro to focus on his NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings.
Petersen was an important piece to last year’s team that made it to the Frozen Four and was seemingly irreplaceable. He ended last season with 2.22 goals against average and tied for the NCAA lead with 6 shutouts in 40 games. Those are pretty big shoes to fill. Through 19 games, Morris already has a 1.47 GAA and 4 shutouts. He also leads the nation in wins (17) and save percentage (.956).
Now that the Irish have taken over the number 1 ranking in both polls, there’s no doubt that the entire college hockey world has their eyes on Notre Dame. And Morris’s play between the pipes may be the biggest story for the team this year. It doesn’t hurt that he’s playing in front of a defensive unit that returned all their key pieces from last year’s Frozen Four run.
There’s been a lot of talk about how Morris put in the necessary work behind Petersen last season to make himself a better goalie. Still, coming into the season, there was no guarantee Morris would even succeed him as the starter for the Irish, with highly anticipated freshmen Dylan St. Cyr and Nick Sanford on the roster. Morris came in as the only goalie on the roster with any experience in net, but it was for all of 20 minutes, giving up 1 goal on 8 shots against the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Morris was in net for both of Notre Dame’s 2-1 victories over the Michigan Wolverines this past weekend. He faced a total of 70 shots in both games. The performance, thanks to saves like the one shown above, earned him Big Ten second star of the week. No one is loving ND’s move to the Big Ten more than Morris, as conference play has been where he’s shined brightest. In 12 conference games, he’s undefeated and won an unprecedented 4 straight B1G first star of the week honors earlier in the season.
The numbers are there, and the weekly awards show that people are taking note of the season Morris is having. You can certainly make a case for Morris as an early front runner for the Mike Richter Award for best goaltender in the nation. The award, in its fifth season, has never been won by a goalie from the Big Ten.
In his first season as starting goaltender for the Irish, there’s a lot to be excited about with Morris. The 6’1 goalie from Larkspur, CO played junior hockey for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL where he compiled a record of 39-18-6 over 2 seasons prior to coming to South Bend. He is currently enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business. Speaking of that, can someone out there help our man out?
How can someone study 16 hours for finance and still know nothing?— Cale Morris (@calemorris) December 13, 2017
As any hockey fan knows, the key to going far in postseason play is consistency from your goaltender. Granted we’re still in January, but if he can continue to put up the impressive numbers he has thus far, the future is bright both for Morris and for the Irish.