After winning both games last weekend, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team continues their tour of Michigan, playing a non-conference home-and-home series against the Western Michigan Broncos. Notre Dame enters the series with a 2-1-1 record ranked #13 in the country, while the Broncos are ranked #17 with a 4-1-0 record.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN (Game 1); Lawson Ice Arena, Kalamazoo, MI (Game 2)
- When: Friday, October 21, 7pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, October 22, 6pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on Peacock (Game 1); Streaming on NCHC.tv (Game 2)
Last weekend Notre Dame looked more like the team we expect to see this season, winning both games of the series against a talented Northern Michigan team. They outscored the Wildcats 8-5 and outshot them by 10, although each game was split in favor of one team. Perhaps the most encouraging thing from last weekend though was the return of Notre Dame’s penalty kill, as they held the Wildcats to a 1/10 success rate on the weekend. Notre Dame rode that penalty kill to success last season and should expect to do the same this year.
The Irish are still controlling the shot share through four games, although not by much, holding only a 51 CF%. Ryan Bischel has also slowly raised his SV%, now up to .887, although he is holding a .952 SV% in close games so he has stepped up when needed. Notre Dame is averaging identical 3.8 goals scored and allowed per game. After a tough first weekend both of those numbers should move in Notre Dame’s favor as the season moves on, but for now they are evenly split.
Notre Dame has done well to get contributions throughout the entire lineup, with 11 different players scoring goals so far. They are led by junior Ryder Rolston, who has 3 goals and 6 points on the early season. On the other end of the ice the defense is led by sophomore Jake Boltmann who has blocked 16 shots so far to help suppress opponent’s offensive chances.
Western Michigan comes into the series with a simple formula to win games, stop opponent’s chances. They have dominated the shot share so far with a 62.8 CF% but that doesn’t tell the whole story, as they haven’t been dominating offensively. Yes, they are scoring 4.6 goals per game, but they are also shooting 13.9% a number that should be expected to come down as they play more games. No, the real reason the Broncos have dominated the shots is because they’ve held their opponents to only 18.6 shots per game which is the second lowest in the country. They also come into play with the second best power play percentage in the country at 37.5. They are only holding a team SV% of .882 though, so they’re winning by preventing shots, but if you can get your shots off you’ll have scoring chances.
These two teams are very evenly matched, and given that the series is a home-and-home I would expect a split with each team holding home ice. They’re are two things that Notre Dame can do to come away with two wins though. The first is to shoot early and often. Obviously the more shots you take the more chances you will have to score, but against a team like Western Michigan who suppresses shots so well but doesn’t necessarily stop the shots that get through that is even more important. The second thing the Irish need to do is stop the Broncos power play. This will be the hard part, as Western Michigan comes in with an extremely successful power play and Notre Dame has not been good on the penalty kill. They have the talent and track record though, and last weekend was much better than the opening weekend. repeat that success and they should come away with two wins.