The no. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened up Compton Family Ice Arena in a big way last weekend, with a series sweep of the Air Force Falcons. The victories were especially important because the Irish were without superstar Cale Morris. The former Hobey Baker finalist suffered an upper body injury during training camp and per WNDU, may be returning this weekend when the Irish welcome the Lake Superior State Lakers to South Bend.
Where, When, and How to Watch
Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
When: Friday, Oct. 25, 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, Oct. 26, 6:00 PM ET
How to Watch: NBCSN (Game 1), NHL Network and NBC Sports Chicago+ (Game 2), NBCSports.com, NBCSports App
For the first time since the 2014-15 season, the man behind the bench for the Irish, Jeff Jackson, will go up against the school he started his historic coaching career with. It was legendary coach Frank Anzalone that gave him his first opportunity as an assistant coach in 1986. Four years and one national championship later, Anzalone, who is also a former Spencer Penrose Award winner, stepped down. Jackson stepped in and continued the excellence that Lake State was accustomed to, winning two more national championships in 1992 and 1994.
The Lakers come into the weekend series at 2-4-0, losers of four straight at the hands of the Denver Pioneers and Michigan Wolverines. After getting shutout by 4 in the opener of their first of two road series against Big Ten opponents, the Lakers kept Saturday’s contest close with the Wolverines, losing by a score of 4-3. Lukas Kaelble and Yuki Miura each had a goal and an assist in the loss.
Forward Colin Theisen couldn’t be off to a better start to the 2019-20 campaign. In last weekend’s series against the Falcons, the junior from Monroe, MI found the back of the net three times. Senior Cam Morrison and captain Cal Burke also scored twice, and will look to continue that momentum against a Lakers team that is giving up an average of over 4 goals per game.
As mentioned earlier, despite the optimism from the team, it’s still uncertain if goaltender Cale Morris will make his season debut this weekend, at the time of writing this. What has been encouraging, however, has been the play from freshman netminder Ryan Bischel. For the USHL’s Fargo Force last year, Bischel posted a 2.55 goals against and a .905 save percentage in 55 games. He stopped a total of 55 of 59 shots while getting the start in both games of last weekend’s series. Should Morris not be ready to go until conference play, Irish fans should still feel confident with his replacement for the time being.
A lot has been said of the high expectations for the Irish coming into this season. With two straight conference tournament championships, it’s been no secret that they have a target on their back in a competitive Big Ten. While we’re only one series into their regular season, it’s worth noting the Irish are already the only undefeated team left in the conference. I expect that to continue this weekend, as they sweep a Lake Superior State team that had trouble with Michigan the weekend before. I not only expect a sweep, but I expect Morris to be back in net for a shutout in the second game.