The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team returns to action this weekend with a series against the Michigan Wolverines. This weekend marks a return to conference play for Notre Dame after nearly a month. The Irish will be looking for a big weekend as they continue to jockey for position in the Big Ten.
WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW TO WATCH
Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
When: Friday, Jan. 10, 7:00 PM ET (Game 1) and Saturday, Jan. 11, 6:00 PM ET (Game 2)
Watch: NBCSN (Game 1) and NBC Sports Streaming (Games 1 and 2)
Notre Dame returns to conference play this weekend, and won’t face another non-Big Ten team until a possible trip to the NCAA Tournament. That’s good, because Notre Dame currently sits fourth in the Big Ten on points but only one point out of second. As the postseason picture begins to come into focus Notre Dame will be looking to move up the conference ladder and solidify a spot in the crowded NCAA field.
The Irish offense really came to life last weekend, scoring four goals in their matchup with the Western Michigan Broncos. For a team that has historically been built on defense and goaltending, an offense that can score like that could be a difference maker.
Notre Dame’s offense has their work cut out for them though in a tough matchup. Michigan currently sits in last place in the Big Ten on points, but their defense is second in the conference in scoring, allowing just 2.2 points per game. The Wolverines have a talented group of defenders headlined by freshman Cam York, a first round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers last year. Their defense hasn’t been enough to compete this season though as their offense is scoring only 2.25 goals per game, by far the worst in the conference. Notre Dame can take advantage of that.
Cale Morris is coming off a terrific performance that earned him NCAA and Big Ten first star of the week honors. Morris saved 82 of 84 shots last weekend and can expect a much lighter workload coming up. A repeat performance should mean a pair of wins for the Irish.
These two teams know each other well, but I think that plays into Notre Dame’s favor as they hold the experience edge over the Wolverines. I expect to see two low scoring affairs that may very well be decided by special teams. Notre Dame has only 149 penalty minutes on the season and I expect that discipline to help decide one or both games this weekend. A sweep could, depending on other results, put the Irish into second in the Big Ten standings and I don’t think Notre Dame misses that opportunity. Predicting a sweep is always tough, but this is the weekend for Notre Dame to do it.