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Notre Dame Hockey: RIT Series Preview

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Notre Dame returns home for a series with the RIT Tigers

Twitter @NDHockey

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team is back in action this weekend, as they return home after a weekend road trip that saw them come away with two wins. Notre Dame enters the weekend ranked 12/13 in the USA Today and USCHO polls and they will welcome the RIT Tigers to Compton Family Ice Arena for a pair of games.

When, Where, How to Watch

  • Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
  • When: Thursday, October 21, 7:30pm ET (Game 1); Friday, October 22, 7:30pm ET (Game 2)
  • How to Watch: Streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app

Notre Dame enters the series with RIT after a successful road trip last weekend, coming away with wins against Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan. Notre Dame has shown strong offensive diversification through their 3-0 start this season, with 12 total goals coming from 8 different players. They also have 15 different players throughout the lineup who have earned at least one point. For a team that struggled at times offensively last year, especially when their star players weren't scoring, getting contributions throughout the entire lineup is an enormous advantage. That will only become more important as conference play begins. While per game averages can be a bit misleading this early in the year, Notre Dame is scoring 3.89 goals per game, nearly a full goal above what they averaged last season.

The Irish defense has also been a strong point through three games specifically in net. Ryan Bischel and Matthew Galajda split the goaltending duties and I would expect the same this time around. Bischel saved 16 shots in game one last weekend while allowing only one goal and earning his first win of the year. Galajda, in game two, made 29 saves for his second win of the season. The penalty kill has also started off the season strong for Notre Dame, as they’ve yet to allow a goal while a man down, going a perfect 17-for-17 on the kill.

RIT enters the weekend with a 2-1-1 record, with the strongest contribution to that coming in the form of goaltender Kolby Matthews. Matthews has a 2-0-1 record on the season while sporting .942 SV% and a 1.95 GAA. Consistent pressure throughout the entire lineup will be important for Notre Dame to be able to break through on offense. The offense for the Tigers hasn’t been quite as promising though. They come into the series with 10 goals in four games with a .107 SH%. They also have yet to score on the power play despite drawing 18 penalties, something that plays directly into one of Notre Dame’s strengths.

Prediction

The key to the series may very well be how often Notre Dame can get the puck past Kolby Matthews. That at least seems to be the biggest question and if the Irish can keep up the offensive pressure as they have through their first three games then they have a good chance of success. Notre Dame has done a lot of things well early on, and despite success RIT has been good but not great. This feels like a series that Notre Dame can and should win both games.