The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team, coming off a road sweep of the #1 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers, return home for their second series of the season against the Michigan Wolverines. The last time these two teams met was the second series of the season, with Notre Dame sweeping both games.
Where, When, and How to Watch
- Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
- When: Thursday, January 21, 6:30pm ET (Game 1); Friday, January 22, 6:30pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on NBCSports.com (Game 1); NBCSN and streaming on NBCSports.com (Game 2)
Notre Dame comes into the series having won three of their last four games, including a sweep of #1 Minnesota. Junior Graham Slaggert earned Big Ten’s First Star of the Week honors for his performance and the sweep vaulted Notre Dame into third place in the Big Ten. They currently have 18 points, just one point ahead of the fourth place team and their opponent for this upcoming series, the Michigan Wolverines. Notre Dame has won the last four games against Michigan dating back to last year, including their early season sweep in November.
Notre Dame has hit their stride offensively the last two weeks, scoring 13 goals over four games since returning from break. That’s good four 3.25 goals per game when they’re averaging just below 3 goals per game on the season overall. They’re spreading the goals around, with six different players scoring game winning goals this year. There’s still some big time contributors from previous years who haven’t reached the score sheet often though and the Irish offense can still reach another level if they can hit their stride as well.
Ryan Bischel was in net for both games against Michigan earlier in the year, saving 55 of 58 shots in two games. I would expect Bischel to get time this weekend, but both he and St. Cyr played well in their games last weekend and a split of time is possible to keep both sharp. Both are still below where they need to be in terms of GAA and SV%, but they are definitely in position to provide the Irish with a big bump toward the end of the season and into postseason play. Notre Dame is still struggling on special teams, especially converting on the power play, and improvement there could bring Notre Dame’s among the best in the country.
Michigan on the other hand is combining good goaltending and a lot of scoring so far this season. They’re converting on the power play at 27.9% and have scored 50 goals in their 14 games, good for 3rd and 6th in the country respectively. They’ve also gotten good goaltending from junior Strauss Mann, although Notre Dame was able to score just enough to beat him earlier in the year.
The key to the series may very well be how much Notre Dame can slow down the Wolverine offense. They allowed only three goals last time around and another performance like that would almost certainly mean another sweep, but Michigan is certainly playing better this time around. So is Notre Dame though, at least offensively, but Michigan is loaded to talent that is putting it all together, and I’m not sure Notre Dame has another sweep in them. I think they’ll split the series, but expect a pair of highly competitive games.