Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Ohio State Buckeyes
Following an encouraging weekend where the Notre Dame Fighting Irish took five of six possible points against the Michigan State Spartans, the 14th ranked team in the nation led by Jeff Jackson will head to Columbus, OH to take on the 5th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes for the second time this season. The series will be between the two highest ranked Big Ten teams in the Pairwise rankings.
WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW TO WATCH
Where: Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
When: Friday, Feb. 1, 7:00 P.M. ET (Game 1) and Saturday, Feb. 2, 8:00 P.M. ET (Game 2)
Watch: Big Ten Network (Game 2)
The last time these teams met was on November 3rd, when the Buckeyes came to Compton Family Ice Arena and failed to sweep the weekend series against the Irish, suffering a 2-1 loss. The victory was the 300th career victory at Notre Dame for Jeff Jackson. Since then, Ohio State has dominated their opponents and established themselves as a serious national championship contender. They’ve lost twice since the last time they saw Notre Dame, with both losses being by one goal.
There’s no doubt that Ohio State is the most likely threat to dethrone Notre Dame as Big Ten hockey champions. However, sitting at just four points behind the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings, the Irish could take the conference lead with a sweep in Columbus. This is quite impressive for a team that started 2019 by losing three straight conference games.
Freshman forward Michael Graham continued this hot streak last week, finding the back of the net twice in the first game against Michigan State. Senior forward Dylan Malmquist also had a pair of goals in the game, which tied him with senior defenseman Bobby Nardella for most points on the team. They’ll look to continue this trend against an Ohio State defense that has allowed just 2.21 goals per game this season, which is best in the Big Ten.
While the Buckeyes may not have the offensive fire power of a team like the Penn State Nittany Lions, they’re still a team that’s tough to keep off the scoreboard. Their offense is led by senior forward Mason Jobst, who has 30 points in 24 games. The Irish will need to minimize their time in the penalty box as well, Jobst has 7 powerplay goals this season, one shy from the most in Division I.
The Buckeyes are winners of three straight, and they have to feel good about themselves after sweeping Penn State last week, especially after limiting the highest scoring team in college hockey to only one goal in the first game. No doubt, the Irish will face a hostile environment in Columbus, but they’ve been clicking lately as well. I predict a split between the two teams this weekend as they continue to battle it out for the Big Ten heading into March.