We are now a month in and the 2019-20 season could not be off to a better start for the no. 3/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. After edging out a talent Ohio State Buckeyes team last weekend, they’ll make the trip to Madison, WI to try to extend their Big Ten division lead as they face the Wisconsin Badgers.
WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW TO WATCH
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, WI
When: Friday, Nov. 15, 8:00 PM ET (Game 1) and Saturday, Nov. 16, 8:00 PM (Game 2)
Watch: Fox Sports Midwest (Game 1) or stream both games on BTN+
This weekend’s matchup between the Badgers, one of the bluebloods of college hockey, and the Fighting Irish, will be a series of two teams trending in different directions. Since taking over as head coach in 2016, Tony Granato has yet to achieve the success at his alma mater that fans have been accustomed to. His career record is just shy of .500, and the team’s five-year drought since their last tournament appearance is the longest in school history.
While the season is still young, the Badgers enter the weekend in last place in the Big Ten, so a poor performance against the Fighting Irish will be a tough hole to climb out of considering how competitive the conference figures to be. In order to prevent that from happening, they’ll expect their star forwards Alex Turcotte and Cole Caufield to continue their outstanding starts to the season.
Turcotte, drafted fifth overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2019 NHL Draft, and Caufield, drafted fifteenth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the same draft, are showing the hockey world why despite their recent team struggles, Wisconsin is still known as a program that produces elite NHL talent. Through ten games played, Caufield has already found the back of the net on eight occasions, which makes him tied for second in the nation. Turcotte, who has played in only eight games so far, has already tallied twelve points, including four last weekend against the Omaha Mavericks.
Much like the 2017-18 season, the last time Notre Dame got off to a hot start, they’ve relied on the stellar play of goaltender Cale Morris. He earned Big Ten third star of the week after his performance in both victories against the Buckeyes, thanks to 49 saves and a .942 save percentage. It’ll be an entertaining matchup when Morris and the Fighting Irish defense try to stop the Badgers, who are averaging 3.7 goals per game.
The Irish got their first overtime win of the season against Ohio State last Friday, and to show up his brother/team points leader/senior captain Cal Burke, sophomore forward Cam Burke buried the game winner on Saturday. Five different skaters – Solag Bakich, Trevor Janicke, Pierce Crawford, Jake Pivonka, and the younger Burke, all lit the lamp for Notre Dame. Combine this offensive production with how well the defense has goaltending has performed, it will be an exciting season for the Irish.
Two weeks ago, in their first Big Ten series, the Badgers struggled against the Penn State Nittany Lions, dropping both games 6-1 and 4-2, respectively. There are many parallels between Penn State and Notre Dame, while they may have learned from their mistakes, I think the Irish will be too much for them to handle, and I see another sweep for Jeff Jackson’s team this weekend.