After finishing the season with four straight wins, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team enters the Big Ten tournament as the #4 seed in the conference. They’ll take on a familiar foe in the quarterfinals as they face the #5 seeded Penn State Nittany Lions for the third straight game.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
- When: Sunday, March 14, 12:00pm ET
- How to Watch: Big Ten Network
The Big Ten hockey tournament officially comes to the Compton Family Ice Arena starting tomorrow, March 14, with the quarterfinals. Semifinals will follow on March 15 and the championship matchup will take place Tuesday March 16. Notre Dame enters the tournament as the #4 seed and will play the #5 seed Penn State Nittany Lions in their first game. The winner will face the #1 seed Wisconsin Badgers in the semifinals on Monday. On the other side of the bracket the Minnesota Gophers and Michigan State Spartans square off in the #2/#7 matchup while the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes play in the #3/#6 game. The winners of those two games will play in the second semifinal.
Notre Dame holds home ice advantage throughout thanks to the tournament being held in South Bend. They’ll need to take advantage of that, because in all likelihood they need a tournament win to make the NCAA tournament. Even though it’s been two years since their last win, since the tournament was cancelled while in progress last season, Notre Dame is also still the two-time defending Big Ten tournament champions and they won’t want to surrender that title without a fight.
Having just played each other last weekend these two teams are coming into the game pretty familiar with each other. Notre Dame won both of those games last weekend by a decent margin and nothing has really changed for either team since. Penn State has still only played two games in the last month and they’re still struggling on both sides of the puck. Meanwhile Notre Dame comes into the tournament playing their best hockey of the season both on offense and in net. They managed to score 12 goals over two games last weekend while allowing only 3. Notre Dame has struggled at home for the most part this year, but they also played those last two games against Penn State at home, so hopefully those struggles are behind them. If not they won’t last long in the tournament.
Notre Dame won both games easily last week and there isn’t much reason to believe that will change this week. Notre Dame has been the better team throughout the season and they were the better team when the two teams faced each other head-to-head. They’ve also proven throughout the season that they can beat anybody in the conference when they are on top of their game. I expect the Irish to come out on top and advance to the semifinals where they’ll have their hands full against Wisconsin.