Who: No. 4 Notre Dame (23-11-5) vs. No. 1 Denver (31-7-4)
When: 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Where: United Center; Chicago, Ill.
Radio: 94.3 FM (WZOC)
Andrew Oglevie came to Notre Dame thinking he knew the meaning of hard work.
Four years at the major junior level, playing for Cedar Rapids in the United States Hockey League, prepared Oglevie for the transition to college. Perhaps overly so. Or at least that’s what he thought.
Most hockey prospects don’t stay in the USHL more than about three seasons, maximum. Yet Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson kept deferring Oglevie in favor of more seasoning at that level. Oglevie tried to make the most of a sometimes discouraging situation.
“It was really frustrating,” Oglevie said. “I thought I was working really hard and things weren’t going my way. I would have an idea toward the end of the season that, ‘Yeah, I’m probably not going to come in this season either.’ It’s frustrating and sometimes you grip your stick tight and you just get frustrated. But it’s part of the game. You’ve gotta stick with it and gut it out.”
Arrival in South Bend ahead of last season revealed something: Oglevie hadn’t known the effort it would take to succeed in college.
Last season, as a freshman, Oglevie played in 31 games. He scored a modest five goals and added four assists for nine total points. He showed flashes of brilliance, scoring a game-tying goal in the third against Boston College in December.
But he missed some time with a lower body injury and generally showed the weaknesses that sometimes plague freshmen scorers. He wasn’t quite strong enough to make things happen close to the net. More often than not, Oglevie was confined to a perimeter game.
Jackson told Oglevie the offseason needed to be spent getting stronger. Strength and conditioning director Tony Rolinski put a plan into action for the summer sessions.
“I wasn’t getting into the inside areas to score goals in the slot like that,” Oglevie said. “Me and T-Ro talked. We all knew what I needed to do I think — put on weight, gain muscle.”
Oglevie partnered up with Dylan Malmquist for summer workout sessions. Malmquist needed a dose of strength too, in particular since he came straight from the high school level instead of going the major junior route.
Together they attacked the plan Rolinski put into place.
Hockey players spend the summer school sessions lifting three days a week before class. That means a 5:30 a.m. wake up call. The other two days are more cardiovascular based — sprints on the indoor track and that kind of thing.
It’s more of a grind than people realize. Oglevie emerged from the offseason feeling improved. His workout partner felt the same, although unsure how it would translate to the ice exactly.
“It’s kinda hard to tell,” Malmquist said. “But I felt a lot bigger, stronger and faster. Obviously, those are three aspects in hockey that are pretty important. I figured it would end up paying off. I think it has in the long run.”
Oglevie has experienced a breakout sophomore season.
He’s tied with Anders Bjork for the team lead with 21 goals. Jake Evans is the next closest at 13. Oglevie has 20 assists, tying him with Evans for second on the team with 41 total points.
“He got a lot stronger after his freshman year,” Jackson said. “And during his freshman year, frankly. He took full advantage of the resources here and had the wherewithal and the will to get it done. It certainly led to him having a great sophomore year and we needed that considering some of the guys we lost from last year. We were expecting some guys to step up and he’s one of those guys that did.”
There’s probably no greater illustration of Oglevie’s growth than his most recent goal.
Oglevie scored an overtime game-winner against UMass-Lowell a couple weeks back. He sent Notre Dame to the Frozen Four and a matchup with No. 1 Denver on Thursday in the national semifinal with the biggest goal of his life. And it came right in front of the net.
Shedding a defender, Oglevie set up shop in the slot, directly in front of the Lowell goalie in between the circles. Bjork took possession of the puck by moving it from skate to stick then slipped it to Oglevie, who was unmarked. Oglevie made no mistake.
In doing so, he validated the point Jackson made heading into last offseason. Malmquist sees Oglevie as a prime example of a team that started buying in during the summer, forging a path to the Frozen Four.
“I always mention to him that ever since we became workout partners he’s kinda become a superstar,” Malmquist said. “You can visually see it with him but I think it’s benefitted everyone to have that work ethic in the summer. To make it as far as we have, it really shows.”
Reflecting on that moment in the spotlight, Oglevie realizes it might not have been possible without stepping up his willingness to work. Turns out he didn’t have a firm understanding of what it would take while at Cedar Rapids.
Now Oglevie has a grasp on it. He hopes it propels him just a little bit farther this season.
“Everyone says that hard work pays off,” Oglevie said. “I’m just happy that it’s paying off for me. I know a lot of times in my career and I’m sure throughout the career of others, you work really hard and things don’t quite go your way. I’m glad to see it going my way. Can’t stop now.”