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Notre Dame Hockey: Minnesota Preview

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The Irish hockey team will go back to playing indoors this weekend

NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Michigan vs Notre Dame Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After having their outdoor game at Notre Dame Stadium spoiled, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will look to bounce back when they welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers to Compton Family Ice Arena for a weekend series. It’ll be the first meetings between the schools this season.

Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN

When: Friday, Jan. 11, 7:00 P.M. ET (Game 1) and Saturday, Jan. 12, 7:00 P.M. ET (Game 2)

Watch: NBC Sports Network (Friday), SportsNet New York (Saturday), and the NBC Sports App

Things haven’t quite been as easy for the Irish as last season. This time a year ago, they still hadn’t lost a Big Ten game in school history. While hope is still alive and well for this team to play as late into the spring as last year, they find themselves in a three-way tie for third in a very tight conference.

Along with the Michigan Wolverines, who defeated Notre Dame last week, Minnesota also enters this weekend with 15 points, which is one behind the Wisconsin Badgers and five behind the conference leading Ohio State Buckeyes. They may have similar conference records, but their goal differentials aren’t as identical. Coming into this season, the Irish have outscored their opponents by a total of 18 goals, compared to just 3 for the Golden Gophers.

The Minnesota offense is led by Rem Pitlick, son of former Ottawa Senator and Florida Panther Lance Pitlick. The younger Pitlick is currently averaging just over a point per game. Behind the net, Mat Robson, Jr. will look to cause frustration for the Notre Dame offense. His .924 save percentage is behind only Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris and Ohio State’s Tommy Nappier among Big Ten netminders.

Morris’ outstanding save percentage will need to continue for the Irish to break out of the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. With the emergence of Dylan St. Cyr, he isn’t playing as many minutes as last year, but has still been reliable to say the least, with a save percentage of .931, a GAA of 2.19 and a pair of shutouts.

Prediction

Despite all the commotion that came with playing in a football stadium, the Irish should be well rested after only having played in one game last weekend. While the Irish had to wait out a sunshine delay then fall to a team whose uniforms matched the playing surface, the Gophers split a tough series at home against Penn State. I think being back indoors in their home gives the Irish the advantage, and they sweep Minnesota.