The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team officially opens their season this weekend, traveling to Denver, CO for the Ice Breaker Tournament. Notre Dame, ranked #11 in the preseason polls, will play two games, opening against the top ranked Denver Pioneers on Friday before playing the Air Force Falcons on Saturday.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Magness Arena, Denver, CO
- When: Friday, October 7, 9:07 pm ET (Game one vs Denver); Saturday, October 8, 8:07pm ET (Game two vs Air Force)
- How to Watch: Streaming on NCHC.tv (Game one); Streaming on FloHockey.tv (Game two)
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team is back on the ice this weekend, coming off of last season that saw them make it to one of the final eight teams in the country before losing in their Regional Final. They return a significant amount of talent from last year, with 19 members of that team back in action this season. That list includes three of their top five scorers from last season, Ryder Rolston, Landon Slaggert, and Nick Leivermann. The latter two will be wearing letters for the Irish this season as an alternate and captain respectively.
Also returning for Notre Dame is senior goaltender Ryan Bischel, who split time in the net last season but came on strong in the end of the season to finish the year with a 10-4 record and sporting a 2.08 GAA and .924 SV%. Where Notre Dame excelled last season was on special teams, with their penalty kill both finishing near the top of the rankings nationwide. Notre Dame will be looking to continue that success on special teams and in net this season. If they can combine that with increased production from some of the young scoring talent returning they can take the step up from very good team to national title contender.
Notre Dame opens the season and tournament against the Denver Pioneers. Denver boasts an impressive resume coming into the season, including #1 ranked team in the country and national champions in two of the last six years (including last season). Denver excels in all areas of the game, but their biggest weakness last season (if you can call it that) is in killing penalties, where they were more middle of the pack than top as in most other statistics. This is an area that Notre Dame will need to look to take advantage of if they want to win.
Air Force, meanwhile, presents a different opponent altogether. The Falcons are a good team, receiving top 20 votes but not making it into the initial season rankings. They struggled to prevent goals against last season and were ranked near the very bottom of the country in save percentage. Scoring a bunch of goals in this game could be a great way for Notre Dame to start the season fast, especially if Denver plays true to form in game one.
Denver will be an extremely tough team to beat and odds are Notre Dame drops that opening game. Air Force on the other hand is a good team but one that a Notre Dame team with national title aspirations should be able to beat. The most likely outcome is a split of both games and if Notre Dame emerges from this weekend with a 1-1 record that should be considered a win.