The #15 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team are back in action this weekend against the #14 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. The Irish come into the series having won 3 of their last 4 games, including a split series last week against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Notre Dame will look to continue their streak of results against the team immediately ahead of them in the standings.
Where, When, and How to Watch
Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
When: Sat., Dec. 12, 7:00pm ET (Game 1) and Sun., Dec. 13, 5:00pm ET (Game 2)
How to Watch: NBCSN and streaming on NBCSports.com and TSN (Canada) (Games 1&2)
Notre Dame comes into this weekend’s series at 3-3 (2-2 in conference), but having won 3 of their last 4 games. It hasn’t always been pretty, but they’ve been getting the job done lately. The problem is, when Notre Dame isn’t on, the games have been getting ugly quickly. They’ll need to be more consistent if they want to keep winning.
The biggest problem for the Irish, as mentioned previously, is goaltending. A week after two stellar performances against the Michigan Wolverines, sophomore Ryan Bischel looked anything but stellar in game 1 last week. He allowed 5 goals to go along with 20 saves before being pulled in the 3rd period in favor of Dylan St. Cyr. St. Cyr, for his part, was better last weekend. He didn’t allow a goal in limited action in game 1 and he got the start in game 2, allowing 4 goals but making 33 saves. The hope was that one of these two would seize the starting job with their performance early in the season but neither has. I’d expect to see more split series until somebody does take control of the job, but both will need to be more consistent moving forward.
Notre Dame did manage some more offense last weekend with 8 goals in the two games combined, including a good amount of it from young performers. Sophomores Graham Slaggert and Solag Bakich, as well as freshman Landon Slaggert, all tallied their first goals of the season against Arizona State. For Landon Slaggert it was the first goal of his collegiate career. The Irish still need to see more from their upperclassmen moving forward but as a team they are certainly moving in the right direction.
The matchup this weekend certainly doesn’t do Notre Dame’s offense any favors, as senior Tommy Nappier entered this season with a career SV% of.934 for Ohio State and has held steady this year with a .932 SV%. It wont be easy for Notre Dame to score goals this weekend but that might not matter. Ohio State comes into play averaging only 2.0 goals per game and are being outshot by nearly 10 shots per game. Ohio State has also struggled on special teams, converting only 18.8% of their power plays and killing only 75% of their penalties. Notre Dame in contrast is converting at 25% and killing at 80%, so the Irish can take advantage of the special teams opportunities.
As much as I would love to say Notre Dame is going to sweep this series I just haven’t seen enough from their goaltenders to do that. It is only six games, but they’ve been so hot and cold this year that I expect a series split. Ohio State so far though seems like the team that could be the remedy to the goaltending woes, so if Notre Dame can keep the Buckeyes’ offense down and capitalize on special teams the opportunity for two wins is there.