The no. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish continue to free fall in the PairWise rankings after being swept last week by the Michigan Wolverines at home. This week, they travel to the state capital of Ohio to take on the no. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes, who are coming off a split against the Wisconsin Badgers. The teams met in South Bend in November, with the Irish winning 3-2 in OT and 2-1.
WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW TO WATCH
Where: Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
When: Friday, Jan. 17, 6:00 PM ET (Game 1), Saturday, Jan. 18, 5:00 PM (Game 2)
Watch: Big Ten Network (Game 1), Big Ten Network Plus (Game 2)
The offense continued their trend of inefficiency in last week’s sweep at the hands of the Wolverines. As has been the case for much of this season, the Irish struggled to maintain possession in the offensive end. A big contributor to Notre Dame’s success in recent years was the fact that they worked their opponents to the point where the Irish would eventually benefit from a lucky goal. The inability to create those opportunities this year continues to show on the score sheet.
Things won’t get easier for their offense this weekend as defense is undoubtedly a strength for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are allowing just 2.05 goals per game, which is tied for the best in the Big Ten with Notre Dame’s opponent from last week, Michigan. Ohio State also kills off an impressive 84% of their penalties.
The Buckeyes also do a great job of keeping the puck out of the net. Junior goaltender Tommy Nappier comes into this weekend with a .933 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average. He stopped 59 of 64 shots he saw against the Irish earlier this season.
One catalyst for the Notre Dame offense this year has been senior forward Cam Morrison, who has 18 points, good enough for the team lead. Morrison has four goals and three assists in eleven career games against the Buckeyes, including the goal to win the Big Ten in 2018.
It’s tough to be optimistic considering defensively, this is a very similar team to the one the Irish were swept by last week, and offensively, they’re far superior. However, the Notre Dame squad will head into Columbus will the confidence that they swept this team earlier in the year. They know the Buckeyes well, and for that, I see the teams splitting the series this weekend.