Notre Dame and Michigan. A historic rivalry, and a rivalry not just reserved for the football field.
These two athletic programs have had teams cross paths on several playing surfaces, whether it’s the field, the hardwood, or the ice.
This weekend it will be on the ice, as the #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-6-2, 16-3-1-1) will take on the #18 Michigan Wolverines (14-13-3, 9-10-3-2) in a weekend home-and-home series. Game 1 will take place at Notre Dame on Friday night and Game 2 will be on Sunday afternoon at Michigan.
Both of these teams were members of the CCHA conference before it folded in 2013 due to conference realignment. That was when Michigan left for the Big Ten and Notre Dame joined the Hockey East. The hockey rivalry between these two schools has included many classic games, including a 5-4 overtime victory by Notre Dame over Michigan in the 2008 Frozen Four semifinals, and a 3-2 overtime victory by Michigan over Notre Dame in the 2016 Midwest Regional Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
This weekends’ series is important to each team for different reasons.
For Notre Dame, this weekend will be an opportunity to further their case as the #1 team in the country. The Irish are coming off of a series split against Ohio State last weekend. Notre Dame clinched the Big Ten regular season title in their 2-1 victory over the Buckeyes last Friday, but were dismantled 5-1 by Ohio State the very next night.
Michigan is coming off a tie and a win over Michigan State last weekend, where the Wolverines reclaimed the “Iron D” Trophy in their 3-2 win over the Spartans in the annual “Duel in the D” game last Saturday at Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings. The Wolverines are currently ranked 15th in the college hockey pairwise rankings according to USCHO.com, and need to collect as many wins as they can in order get into the 16-team NCAA Tournament.
Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN (Game 1); Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI (Game 2)
When: Friday, Feb. 16, 7:35 p.m. EST (Game 1) and Sunday, Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m. EST (Game 2)
Watch: A delayed broadcast of Game 1 will be shown on NBC Sports Chicago Plus on Saturday, February 17 at 1 p.m. EST. Game 2 will be televised LIVE on Sunday afternoon on the Big Ten Network.
Tale of the Tape
The Michigan Wolverines are giants in college hockey history, winning a total of nine national championships (including the first ever NCAA Tournament in 1948). This year the Wolverines are in a transition period, as longtime head coach Red Berenson retired last offseason after 34 years behind the Michigan bench. His replacement is Mel Pearson, who served as an assistant at Michigan under Berenson from 1988-2011 and was the head coach of the Michigan Tech Huskies from 2011-17. Under Pearson, the Huskies made the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and 2017. Pearson has guided Michigan to a 14-13-3 record in his first year at the helm.
Michigan’s roster is loaded with talent, as 10 of their players have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft. Their current leading scorer is junior forward Cooper Marody, a sixth-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2015 Draft, who has 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 30 games. The Wolverines also feature the San Jose Sharks’ 2017 first-round draft pick (19th overall) in freshman forward Josh Norris, who has recorded 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 27 games, and freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes, a top prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft. Hughes played for Team USA in the last two World Junior Championships, winning gold in 2017 and bronze in 2018.
Notre Dame forward Andrew Oglevie goes into this weekend series on a five game point streak (2-6-8).
Last Saturday’s loss was Notre Dame’s first defeat on home ice at the Compton since October 26, a 6-4 loss to Nebraska-Omaha.
Notre Dame leads the conference standings with 50 points and clinched the Big Ten regular season championship last weekend. Michigan is currently third in the conference with 32 points. Michigan is tied with Ohio State for third in the Big Ten in overall scoring offense, while Notre Dame leads the conference in overall scoring defense.
The Last Time
These two teams met back on January 5th and January 7th for a similar Friday/Sunday home-and-home series. Notre Dame won both games by identical scores of 2-1. In the first game, which took place at Michigan, Matt Hellickson and Andrew Oglevie each scored power play goals, while Cale Morris stopped 35 of the 36 shots he saw for the win. In the second game, which took place at Notre Dame, it was again Oglevie and Hellickson who scored Notre Dame’s only two goals of the game in the 2-1 victory. Morris made 33 saves on 34 shots during game 2.
I expect this series to be just as close as the last one these two teams played. Despite the .500 record, Michigan has some serious talent on their roster. They remember how close they were to beating Notre Dame a month ago, and they’ll be hungry to finally break through this time around.
Notre Dame will have to put Saturday’s 5-1 thumping by Ohio State behind them. The Irish cannot allow themselves to become complacent after winning the Big Ten regular season title. There are still two weekends left in the regular season, and every result is crucial to their national and pairwise rankings. Friday night’s game at Compton will be the annual “White Out” game, and you can expect a large and rowdy crowd will be there trying to make life miserable for Michigan.
Also expected to make an appearance on Friday is a certain national anthem singer and........free pizza?
Handing out some & to Friday night’s game vs 〽️ pic.twitter.com/KFmaUmaPwL— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) February 14, 2018
I think the Irish will get the job done again this weekend. Notre Dame by 3-2 and 2-1 scores.