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Notre Dame Hockey: Wisconsin Preview

The Badgers come to South Bend in front of a green-out on Friday

Twitter | @ndhockey

Following a rare mid-week game against the Michigan Wolverines in which they were victorious over their rivals, the 16th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will look to ride the momentum into this weekend as they host the Wisconsin Badgers at Compton Family Ice Arena.

WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW TO WATCH

Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
When: Friday, Feb. 15, 7:00 PM ET (Game 1) and Saturday, Feb. 16, 6:00 PM ET (Game 2)
Watch: NBCSN

With just two series left in regular season play after this weekend, Tuesday’s 5-2 victory at home over the Wolverines could not have come at a better time. Cale Morris looked spectacular again, saving 36 shots. Forwards Jacob Pivonka and Pierece Crawford both scored the first goals of their respective Notre Dame careers, as well. The win kept Notre Dame’s hopes of repeating as Big Ten champions alive. The second place Irish currently sit six points behind the Ohio State Buckeyes with six games remaining.

Wisconsin’s offense has struggled this season. Their 2.93 goals per game are just barely above the Michigan State Spartans, who at 2.90 are the lowest scoring team in the Big Ten. The player to keep an eye on for Wisconsin is freshman K’Andre Miller, who leads the team in scoring, as a defenseman. Miller found the back of the net earlier this year against Cale Morris in Notre Dame’s 6-4 victory last month.

In that contest, the Badgers seemed to outplay the Irish, but a few too many mistakes allowed the Irish to get the victory. Two nights later, the teams met about halfway from each other at the United Center in Chicago, when the Irish and Badgers tied, but Notre Dame was able to pick up an extra point. Head coach Tony Granato and his team can’t afford to make the same mistakes this weekend.

The Irish could not exemplify being a team on the bubble any more than they currently are. The Pairwise rankings have them tied with the Providence Friars as the 16th and final team to make the NCAA Tournament. It’s a stark contrast to last season, when they already had the conference wrapped up around this time, then got comfortable and lost four of five to close out February.

Prediction

In what will be a crucial series, the home ice advantage will be enough to propel the Irish over the Badgers in a sweep. Morris and the Notre Dame defense should take care of the underachieving Wisconsin offense. If you need any further convincing, Friday night’s game will be a green out.