The Big Ten season is off to a solid start for the no. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who went 1-0-1 last week in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. This week, they return home to face their toughest challenge of the young season, as they’ll take on the no.8/9 Ohio State Buckeyes at home.
Where, When, and How to Watch
Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
When: Friday, Nov. 8, 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, Nov. 9, 7:00 PM ET
How to Watch: NBCSN (Game 1), SNY (Game 2), or stream both games on the NBCSports app
The Buckeyes will have quite a bit of momentum as they come to Compton this weekend. Head coach Steve Rohlik’s team swept their hated rivals from that school up north last weekend, edging out the Michigan Wolverines in back to back games in Columbus. The impressive showing lead to Ohio State moving up four spots in the USCHO poll, where they currently sit at no. 9. This was tied for the week’s biggest jump in the poll.
Forward Tanner Laczynski should be a name Notre Dame fans are quite familiar with. The Phildelphia Flyers draft pick has had a remarkable career at Ohio State, tallying at least 30 points each year in Columbus thus far. He’s off to another hot start in his senior season, averaging an assist per game through the first 8 games of the season.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Buckeyes are off to a 6-1-1 start is the exceptional play of netminder Tommy Nappier, who was named to the Big Ten First All Star team last season. The Ohio State goalie is showing no signs of slowing down, having started all 8 games for the Buckeyes and posting an impressive .940 SV% and 1.62 GAA, both stats ranked sixth in the nation.
Nappier earned a shutout against the Irish the last time these teams met, when the Buckeyes swept the Irish in Columbus this past February. Despite the sweep and finishing with a better record than the Irish, it was Notre Dame who won the conference tournament, and more importantly, made it further in the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes were eliminated by the Denver Pioneers in the regional semifinals, so they clearly see 2019-20 as a redemption season.
The Irish have the offensive edge in this series. Captain Cal Burke continues to have a great season, having extended his point streak to six games last weekend. In the most recent series between the Irish and Buckeyes, forward Cam Morrison scored one of two goals for the Irish. In addition to Burke, Morrison will also look to continue his hot start. The senior from Aurora, Ontario had his second multi-point game in Saturday’s victory.
If the Irish are going to take a series that we may look back on when it comes time for Big Ten Tournament seeding, they’ll need to see the same consistency from their tandem of senior forwards. Among teams that have played at least six games thus far, the Irish lead the nation in goals per game.
In the first series of the season in which he was in net for both games, Cale Morris gave up 5 goals on a total of 47 shots. While this may not necessarily be what we’re accustomed to from Morris, this type of play will certainly be enough to get the job done considering how well the offense is clicking right now. I predict the Irish to pick up two much needed wins at home this weekend.