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Notre Dame Hockey: Michigan State Series Preview

The Irish end the fall semester with a home series against the Spartans

Notre Dame forward Ryder Rolston
Twitter @NDHockey

After a series of one bad loos and one very good win, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team is back this weekend to close out the semester with a series against the Michigan State Spartans. The Irish remain the #8 team in the country coming into this matchup, and welcome a Spartan team that sits just below them in the Big Ten standings to Compton Family Ice Arena. Both teams will be looking to head into the holiday break on a high note and climb the conference standings.

Where, When, How to Watch

  • Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
  • When: Friday, December 10, 7:30pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, December 11, 7pm ET (Game 2)
  • How to Watch: NBCSN and streaming on the NBC App (Games 1 & 2)

The name of the game for Notre Dame this season has been consistency, so in that regard it was a bit surprising to see how different their performances last weekend were. They managed a split in the series though, and while they weren’t able to gain any ground in the conference standings, they really didn’t lose any either. Michigan State is also coming off of a series split, and they sit just one point behind Notre Dame. A sweep for either team would be a huge difference maker at this early point in the season.

Notre Dame has a few players that jump out at you when you look at the stat sheet, but the two biggest names to watch this weekend seem to be Max Ellis and Ryder Rolston. Ellis leads the team in goals (11) and is second in assists (9). He enters the weekend with a nine game point streak and has scored a point in 13 of Notre Dame’s 15 games so far. Rolston, meanwhile, has a seven game point streak. He had a goal and an assist in both games last weekend and earned Big Ten Second Star of the Week honors.

In net, Notre Dame split last weekend between Matthew Galajda and Ryan Bischel. Galajda had by far his worst game of the season in the opener, allowing four goals and taking the loss. He is still carrying a 1.68 GAA and .932 SV% though, so I would certainly not expect to see him on the bench too often. Bischel played game two last weekend and held Ohio State to just one goal, earning his fourth win of the season. His GAA dropped to 2.26 and he is now over .900 with his SV%, sitting at .916. I would expect Galajda to be given a chance to rebound, but Bischel has also won his last three starts after some early struggles and they may be splitting more time, including this weekend, if that trend holds.

Michigan State comes into the series allowing and scoring an even 2.56 goals per game. They have a very good power play, scoring at 25.5%, but their penalty kill is a more pedestrian 81.7%. Despite the even goal averages though, they have been significantly outshot on the year and carry a CF% of only 43.6. In net, Michigan State relies heavily on senior goaltender Drew DeRidder, who has been excellent so far this year. Ho is allowing only 2.17 goals per game and saving .941% of shots he faces. Part of that save percentage though is due to the sheer number of shots he faces. If compared to Galadja, DeRidder is saving more shots but is allowing almost half a goal more per game.

Prediction

The game plan for Notre Dame this weekend should be clear. Take advantage of Michigan State allowing such a high number of shots and pepper DeRidder with pucks. He’s going to save a lot of them, but eventually you’ll beat him, and with threats throughout the lineup the Irish should be able to beat him more than Michigan State beats Galajda or Bischel. It’s an easy formula that won’t be quite as easy to convert, but Notre Dame still has a good chance to take two games this weekend.