The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team is entering the final stretch of the regular season, heading to East Lansing, where they’ll be taking on the Michigan State Spartans, for their last road trip and second to last series of the year. Notre Dame enters the series tied for third in the Big Ten, coming off a series split (with a shootout win after a tie) with the second place Wisconsin Badgers.
Where, When, and How to Watch
- Where: Munn Ice Arena, East Lansing, Michigan
- When: Friday, February 26, 6pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, February 27, 3pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on BTNPlus.com and the BTN+ App (Games 1 & 2)
Notre Dame has been consistently inconsistent this year, but the one thing they have been is fairly dominant on the road. They are 7-2-1 so far this season away from home and have excelled on special teams in particular. They are 21-for-23 on the penalty kill (.913) and have converted 8 of 24 power play chances (.333). Those numbers are phenomenal and I would look for special teams to be a big boost for the Irish this weekend.
Last weekend Notre Dame was outshot and outscored by Wisconsin, but not by much. The Irish managed 7 goals over two games, bouncing back from their scoreless series two weeks ago. If we remove that scoreless weekend as an aberration against a top team, Notre Dame has been steadily improving on offense since returning from winter break. It was most apparent last weekend in the performance of Alex Steeves, who after a 3 goal, 4 point performance earned the Big Ten Second Star of the Week Honors.
⭐️⭐️@steeves_alex has been named @B1GHockey's Second Star of the Week!#GoIrish pic.twitter.com/giiTISGc1n— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) February 23, 2021
Dylan St. Cyr started both games in goal for the Irish last weekend and there’s no reason to believe that will change. Since taking control of the number 1 spot in net, St. Cyr has posted a .923 SV% and 2.48 GAA. That has translated into only a 4-5-1 record though, which is a good representation of the Irish season overall as well.
Michigan State on the other hand comes into this weekend struggling. They currently sit last in the Big Ten standings and have lost 8 of their last 10 games. Goaltending has been the bright spot for the Spartans when junior Drew DeRidder is in net, as he comes into this weekend with a .926 SV% and 2.67 GAA. That hasn’t been nearly enough to balance out their 6.3 SH% though, nor has it helped their 6.9 PP%. The Spartans just don’t score many goals and as a result have not been able to keep up with the high powered offenses in the Big Ten.
Notre Dame shouldn’t need a huge weekend offensively to come out on top. St. Cyr has been strong in net and combined with the Spartans struggling offense they shouldn’t allow many goals this weekend. I think the Irish offense is more than capable of providing the goal scoring they need for these two games and a sweep should be the goal. That would set them up well for their final series of the regular season back home next weekend.