The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team has won four straight games and are now ranked as high as #14 in the country. Last weekend they managed a home sweep of conference opponent the Wisconsin Badgers, but this weekend will present possibly their toughest task of the season. Notre Dame travels to Ann Arbor for a road series against the #1 ranked team in the country, the Michigan Wolverines.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
- When: Friday November 19, 7:30pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, November 20, 8pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on BTN+ (Games 1 & 2)
Notre Dame enters play this weekend with some momentum following four straight wins, none of which were particularly difficult. They will face their toughest test so far this season, and quite possibly the toughest test they will face all season long, in #1 ranked Michigan.
Notre Dame continues to win with consistency and contributions throughout the lineup. Last weekend against Wisconsin, the Irish scored 8 goals over two games, with 7 different goal scorers contributing. Max Ellis continues to pace Notre Dame on offense, with his 14 points split evenly with 7 goals and 7 assists. The Irish are averaging 3.61 goals per game, good for 11th in the country.
With graduate student Matthew Galajda in net, the Irish have also excelled at preventing their opponents from scoring. Galajda won both games last weekend, including a 22 save shutout in game 2. He now holds a 1.38 goals against average and .943 save percentage with a 7-1 record. His performance last weekend was good enough to earn Big Ten Third Star of the Week Honors. Notre Dame as a whole is allowing just 1.71 goals per game, which is good for sixth in the country. The penalty kill is also 41-for-43 on the year which is good for a 95.35% kill rate, first nationally.
The opponent this week is a Michigan team that is absolutely loaded with talent, including four of the top five picks in the 2021 NHL Draft. To say the the expectation for the Wolverines this year is National Championship or bust is no understatement at all. Michigan has scored twice as many goals as their opponents this season (52-26), averaging 4.33 per game. Their power play is scoring at a rate of 31.25%, third in the country. They are also allowing only 2.17 goals per game, an average that drops to 1.83 in Big Ten conference play. This is a team that truthfully doesn’t have a weakness, and Notre Dame is going to be at the absolute top of their game to come away with even one win this weekend.
The area where Notre Dame has (just slightly) an edge this weekend appears to be in goal, where Matthew Galajda has been superb for the Irish all season long. They’ve also won five straight games at Yost Ice Arena, which should give them the confidence that they can go into Ann Arbor and come away with a win. Staying out of the penalty box and keeping the potent Wolverines power play off the ice is going to be key, and even then Notre Dame may need Galajda to steal a game if they win one. The most likely outcome still feels like a Michigan sweep, but if Notre Dame can manage to win one of two they should leave the weekend in good position.