The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team is back in action this weekend, this time with a road trip to Columbus, Ohio for a series against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Notre Dame enters the weekend fourth in the Big Ten with 21 points, 5 points ahead of sixth place Ohio State. The Irish are also in striking distance of third place with a strong performance this weekend.
Where, When, and How to Watch
- Where: Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
- When: Friday, February 5, 4:30pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, February 6, 1:30pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Big Ten Network (Games 1&2)
Notre Dame enters this weekend coming off a split series against the Penn State Nittany Lions. They currently hold a 5-1-0 record on the road this season though and will be looking to extend that stellar record. This will be the second series of the season between the Irish and the Buckeyes, having split a series in December at Notre Dame.
The Irish played well last weekend despite the split series. Perhaps the best performer of the weekend was Dylan St. Cyr, who started both games and made a total of 65 saves on 69 shots. St. Cyr also started both games in the first matchup against Ohio State, making 38 saves on 41 shots. He’s now brought his SV% on the season up to .903. Look for St. Cyr to be back in net this weekend, and a repeat performance will go a long way for the Irish.
Notre Dame continues to struggle on offense though, as the team shooting % sits at just 7.7%. The power play percentage is up to 10%, an improvement from a few weeks ago, but still has a lot of room for improvement. The chances continue to be there though, and at risk of sounding like a broken record, it is just a matter of converting those chances for the Notre Dame offense.
On the other side, Ohio State has managed to capitalize on chances that Notre Dame has missed. The Buckeyes have an identical shooting percentage at 7.7%, but they’ve converted on 21% of their power play chances. They’re led in net by senior Tommy Nappier, who holds a .912 SV% and 2.99 GAA. Beating Nappier is not easy and Notre Dame will need to be on top of their game to do so.
Given the stark difference in the Ohio State SH% and PP%, the key for Notre Dame may just be staying out of the penalty box. They did that extremely well last weekend, taking only one penalty in the two games. A repeat performance on special teams, plus some of their continued success on the road, could lead to a sweep for the Irish. That said though, I’m not sure Notre Dame can perform at that level over both games, they just haven’t shown that level of consistency all year. I expect another split series, but that could still get Notre Dame into third place in the Big Ten.