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Notre Dame Hockey: Penn State Series Preview

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The Fighting Irish and the Nittany Lions meet for the first time this season.

Twitter @NDHockey

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team, coming off what was their worst series of the season, are back in action for a two game road series against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Irish were swept last week by the Michigan Wolverines and will look to right the ship on the road, where they’ve won all four of their games this season.

Where, When, and How to Watch

  • Where: Pegula Ice Arena, University Park, PA
  • When: Thursday, January 28, 6pm ET (Game 1); Friday, January 29, 6pm ET (Game 2)
  • How to Watch: Streaming on BTN+ (Games 1 & 2)

There really wasn’t much that went right for Notre Dame last weekend. They couldn’t score goals, couldn’t stop them, and continue to struggle on special teams. The good news for Notre Dame is that the game’s last weekend weren’t quite as lopsided as the scores indicate. They’re still one of the best teams in the country in terms of shot and possession share, and one series won’t change that. It will need to start translating into goals and wins soon though if Notre Dame wants to make a postseason run.

As far as postseason hopes are concerned, Notre Dame currently sits in fourth place in the Big Ten. They’re only five points behind second place Michigan though, meaning one series going the right way could move them all the way up ahead of the Wolverines. They are sitting 30th in the pairwise rankings though, meaning the Irish will need a terrific run over the final six weeks of the season or a Big Ten tournament win and automatic bid.

Speaking of the Big Ten tournament, it was announced this week that the entire tournament will be hosted over a single weekend from March 18-20 at Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena. The tournament will be single elimination, taking place over three days, with all seven conference teams participating. There will be six games on Thursday, four on Friday, and the championship on Saturday.

Penn State comes into this weekend statistically very similar to the Irish. They’re controlling possession and shot shares but struggling to score goals, shooting only 7.7% on the season. They’re also struggling to stop their opponent’s from scoring with a team SV% of .871. They are currently only a point behind Notre Dame in the Big Ten standings but three spots ahead in the pairwise rankings. Very little separates these two teams right now and it will be interesting to see if either team can overcome their struggles and take advantage of their opponent’s.

Prediction

Because these two teams are so evenly matched this series is hard to predict. It may very well come down to some puck luck, and who can take advantage of the bounces that come their way or their opponent’s mistakes. Because of that the most likely outcome of the series is a split, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say Notre Dame recovers from last weekend and stays undefeated on the road.