After a tough weekend on the road, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team returns home for another Big Ten conference matchup. It doesn’t get much easier though, as the 18th ranked Irish welcome the #3 Michigan Wolverines to South Bend. Notre Dame lost both games last weekend at Minnesota, making it three losses in a row. They’ll need to rebound this weekend to stop from falling behind early in the season.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN
- When: Friday, November 11, 7:30pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, November 12, 6:00pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on Peacock (Games 1 and 2)
Last weekend was not a good one for Notre Dame. They traveled to Minnesota and got swept by one of the best teams in the country. Over two games Notre Dame was outscored 7-1 and were outshot 85-46. No team will win many, if any, games with numbers like that. They’ll need to be better this weekend if they want to come away with even one win.
So can they be better? Well besides being a much better team at home early this season there are reasons for hope. One area where Notre Dame has struggled is shooting percentage. They are shooting just 7.9% so far this year which puts them in the bottom third of the country. That number should be closer to 10% for a decent team and a good team, which Notre Dame has the talent to be, should be even higher. That tells me that there is an element of unluckiness for the Irish so far this season.
One thing that should help raise their shooting percentage is to take more shots. 46 shots over two games is not enough, and the more shots you take the more shots you should score. Notre Dame’s CF% continues to fall though and now sits at 47.5% on the season. They need that to swing back closer to even if they expect to be able to beat the very talented teams in their conference.
Another good sign is that Ryan Bischel continues to improve in net, raising his SV% and GAA to .932 and 2.34 respectively. Even after a bad weekend his numbers continue to rise, meaning the number of goals he is giving up is simply a reflection f the number of shots he faces. Better defense and shot suppression in front of him would go a long way for this team.
So how about Michigan? The bad news for Notre Dame is that Michigan is another team that does not give up a lot of scoring chances. That is reflected in their 55.7 CF% but also in their goaltending statistics. Erik Portillo, who has started the majority of games for the Wolverines this year, has only a .905 SV% but still only gives up 2.74 goals per game. He doesn’t see a lot of shots but if you can shoot on him you can score on him.
Despite losing several first round draft picks after last season, Michigan still has some strong NHL talent on their team. They are led up front by freshman Adam Fantilli, who is expected to be a top five pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. He has scored 9 goals and 20 points in just 10 games this season, a blistering pace that places him third and first in the country in those two categories. At the back they are led by Luke Hughes, the #4 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft who has two brothers playing professionally. He has 9 points on the season from the blueline but has shown himself to be a shutdown defenseman. Notre Dame will have to figure out how to stop the big names for Michigan if they hope to win.
It is early, but Notre Dame is not off to a good start this season. They sit second to last in the Big Ten and face an extremely tough test this weekend. Things don’t get easier coming up either so they won’t be able to bank on beating up on lesser talent to turn things around. They absolutely need to win one game this weekend and a sweep would be a great jumping off point for the next few weeks. Based on the way they’ve been playing though and the talent level they’re facing I just don’t see it and I expect a win for each team this weekend.