The #13 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team, fresh off of a road sweep of the Penn State Nittany Lions, continue their run of games away from South Bend this weekend as they travel to Columbus, OH for a series with the #15/16 Ohio State Buckeyes. Notre Dame enters the series in fourth place in the Big Ten, one point behind the second place Michigan Wolverines who are tied with Ohio State.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
- When: Friday, Jan. 14, 7pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, Jan. 15, 8pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on BTN Plus (Games 1 and 2)
Notre Dame is coming off of a strong showing last weekend against Penn State, winning both games and taking five of six possible points. That performance saw them pull within just one point of the Buckeyes. Obviously a lot is riding on the points this weekend and a sweep would put some distance between Notre Dame and the teams behind them and could possibly even see them move up to second or even first in the conference with some help.
The Irish have done a good job of spreading offense around all year, but the standout of a deep group has certainly been junior Max Ellis. Ellis had three goals last weekend, including the game winner in overtime of game two with just 0.2 seconds left on the clock. Ellis is averaging 0.667 goals per game for a total of 14 goals, good for fifth in the country. His two short handed goals are also tied for the NCAA lead.
Notre Dame continued their two goalie rotation last weekend, and neither goalie did anything to show that they shouldn’t continue to get playing time. Ryan Bischel started game one and allowed only two goals while making 38 saves. Matthew Galajda wasn’t far off in game two, saving 35 shots and allowing four goals. Both earned the win and now own 6-3 and 9-3 records respectively.
Ohio State comes into the weekend series unbeaten in their last seven games dating back to December, including a tie and shootout win last weekend against Wisconsin. They are led by freshman goaltender Jakub Dobes, who has 14 wins in 20 games this season. He is allowing only goals against with a .927 SV%. Offensively the standout has been another freshman, Georgii Merkulove, who is averaging more than a point per game and leading the team with 11 goals and 22 points. The Buckeyes enter the series outscoring their opponents 3.68 to 2.23 per game. Those numbers have been closer in conference, but Ohio State still has a 3.25 to 2.42 advantage. Notre Dame does have the advantage in shot share, with a 53.4 CF% compared to 52.8 for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes are scoring at a better rate with a 10.7 SH% compared to the Irish with 9.3.
All told these teams are relatively evenly matched. Notre Dame holds a slight advantage in net, no matter who is playing, but the Buckeyes hold a slight advantage on offense. Neither of those are really a big enough advantage to put one team ahead of the other though, and considering they already split a series in South Bend earlier this season I would expect another split this time around.