Larkspur native Morris sees promise in signing first pro deal with AHL’s IceHogs
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Even though his NCAA career at Notre Dame ended with a thud in March due to COVID-19, Cale Morris is pressing on in his hockey career.
Last week, the Larkspur native and goaltender signed his first professional contract, inking with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, the top affiliate for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Morris said in one sense, it’s a bit like going home.
“Going to Notre Dame, I’m sure the organization was able to watch me throughout my college career and get an idea of the type of player I am,” said Morris. “I’, extremely excited to join such a historic and successful organization. Playing juniors in Chicago (with the USHL’s Chicago Steel) and playing a couple times at the United Center, I know Chicago is an incredible hockey city from top to bottom.
“It’s always been a dream to play professional hockey and this is definitely a great first step in my professional career. The NHL, I think, is every kid’s goal but I just want to try to become the best version of myself on and off the ice and help the team win as many games as possible. If one day that leads to doing that with a Blackhawks jersey on my chest, it would be incredible and a massive achievement.”
Morris was 12-7-14 with a 2.42 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and three shutouts in 33 games as a senior in 2019-20 and was 52-28-18 with a 2.18 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and 11 shutouts during his four-year NCAA career.
His best season came as a sophomore in 2017-18 when he was 27-8-1 with a .944 save percentage and four shutouts in 37 games. He helped the Fighting Irish win the Big Ten Tournament title and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, won the Mike Richter Award as the best goalie in the country, and was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in all of college hockey.
In the 2017-18 season, Notre Dame lost in the Frozen Four title game to Minnesota Duluth.
“My senior year at Notre Dame was definitely a roller coaster of highs and lows, personally and as a team,” said the 24-year-old Morris, who played for the Colorado Thunderbirds and Colorado Hockey Club (now Colorado Rampage) in his youth days. “With the season and year ending the way it did, it was pretty anticlimactic, but I’m still extremely proud of our team and especially all of the seniors graduating from one of the best universities in the world.
“Every day spent at Notre Dame was so special and something that I will always cherish. The thing I’m going to miss the most is being around all my best friends and everyone throughout the organization every day. I made some lifelong friendships that I wouldn’t change for anything. I’ll always remember playing in front of our awesome crowds at Compton Family Ice Arena, with the band blasting music and the boys rocking our gold helmets.”
Morris graduated with a degree in Business Technology with a concentration in graphic and visual design, something he said will come into play when the time is right to hang up the skates.
“Graduating with a business degree from Notre Dame opens endless doors with the incredible network and resources the school provides us with,” said Morris. “After hopefully a long and successful hockey career, I will definitely rely on those connections in the business world.”
For now, Morris is anxious to get going in Rockford.
“I really want to just go in and work as hard as a can and try to get better every chance I get,” Morris said. “I want to challenge my teammates and push them in every situation to better themselves, too. I’m excited to turn pro and just help the team in any way the I can and do whatever is needed within the organization to try to create team success.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Oct. 22, 2020)