The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team is back in action this weekend, traveling to Minneapolis for just their second road series of the season, this time against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the top ranked team in the country. Notre Dame comes into the series 4th in the Big Ten, coming off another series split against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Minnesota meanwhile comes in having lost their first game of the season last weekend against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Where, When, and How to Watch
- Where: 3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- When: Friday January 15, 8:00pm ET (Game 1); & Saturday January 16, 6:00pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on BTN+ (Game 1); Fox Sports North and streaming on BTN+ (Game 2)
Notre Dame continued their back and forth ways last weekend, following their trend for the season. They split the series in net between Ryan Bischel and Dylan St. Cyr, but again neither one was able to grab hold of the starting job. The good news is the offense managed to put together two good games, scoring 8 goals over the series. The problem is those goals were all at even strength, with one short handed. Notre Dame was 0-5 on the power play on the weekend and continue to struggle recently with the man advantage, where they are just 2-29 on the season (6.9%).
Notre Dame continues to control the shot share in their matchups this season, as they have a CF% of 56.1. This is where they have the advantage over Minnesota, who takes just 50.7% of the shots in their matchups. Notre Dame continues to get contributions from their younger players, with Landon Slaggert (freshman) returning to the team last weekend with two goals. Grant Silianoff (freshman) and Max Ellis (sophomore) matched that two goal output, with Ellis earning Big Ten’s Second Star of the Week. However, that means 6 of their 8 goals came from just 3 players, and that lack of depth is a problem.
Notre Dame is going to run into a problem this weekend in the Gophers goaltending. Minnesota has allowed only 19 goals on the season while scoring 43, good for a .943 SV%. Those numbers are even better for senior goaltender Jack LaFontaine, who has started 11 of Minnesota’s 12 games this season with a .955 SV%. The Gophers aren’t necessarily spectacular in any other area, but they’re good everywhere and the goaltending has carried them to an 11-1 record.
Despite losing last weekend for the first time, Minnesota has been the best team in the country all season. Their strongest asset, goaltending, plays right into Notre Dame’s weakness of scoring goals. I don’t expect Notre Dame to be able to go to Minnesota and win, not while they continue to struggle scoring.