The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team returns from winter break this weekend, welcoming the Arizona State Sun Devils to South Bend for two games. Notre Dame enters the weekend with a 4-5-1 overall record, having split their last three series.
While they were on break, Notre Dame freshman forward Landon Slaggert was away with Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. Slaggert played in all 7 games for Team USA in the tournament, including the 2-0 win in the gold medal game against Canada.
Where, When, and How to Watch
- Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
- When: Saturday, January 9, 6:30pm ET (Game 1) and Sunday, January 10, 5:00pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: NHL Network and streaming on NBCSports.com (Games 1 and 2)
Notre Dame was beginning to turn a corner offensively before the break, as they pummeled Michigan State with shot attempts in their final two games. Those chances aren’t translating to goals at the level you would expect, at least not yet, and I would expect a goal scoring breakout to come soon as long as the chances keep coming. Notre Dame had 93 shots over their last two game series but scored only 4 goals. Part of that was stellar goaltending by Drew DeRidder, which is even more evidence to an upcoming offensive breakout.
Goaltending is still a question mark for the Irish, holding only a .892 team SV%. Both Ryan Bischel and Dylan St. Cyr have been up and down this season, and until that changes and one of them takes control of the starting job they will keep splitting time in net.
When looking at Arizona State, there’s good news and bad news for Notre Dame’s goaltending. The Sun Devils have 41 goals, fourth best in the country, but with only a 9.9 Sh%. Arizona State is also bleeding chances on the defensive end, with a 44.0 CF% (42.5 CF% at even strength). That mark only makes it up to 50.0 CF% on the power play, meaning they give up just as many shots as they take when they have a man advantage.
Notre Dame should have plenty to get the offense going, even when down a man. On the defensive end, the goaltenders need to hope that the Sun Devil Sh% doesn’t bounce up to a level that reflects their shot attempts. Whichever one of those things happens will decide the series. Given Notre Dame’s recent streak of splitting series though, I can’t really bring myself to say anything else is going to happen. The most likely outcome is that neither team breaks out of their problems and each take a game this weekend.