Last weekend, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team welcomed the highly ranked Michigan Wolverines to South Bend and managed to squeeze out a series split. This weekend they are back on the road, travelling to Columbus, Ohio for a conference series with the #12 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Value Center Arena inside the Schottenstein Center, Columbus, OH
- When: Friday, November 18, 7pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, November 19, 5pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on Big Ten Plus (Games 1 and 2)
Like much of the young season so far, Notre Dame played two distinctly different games last weekend. In game one they matched Michigan early before losing all defensive responsibility in the second period. They lost that game 5-1. Game two they went down early before battling back to tie the game and eventually win 3-2 in overtime. They were outshot 77-55 on the weekend but game two was a nearly even 33-31 split.
Ryan Bischel played extremely well again, saving 70 shots out of the 77 he faced. His SV% is now at .928 on the year and he has fully rebounded after a bit of a rough start to the season. To go along with Bischel’s strong play has also been the return of Nick Leivermann. After missing the first four games with injury Leivermann has been Notre Dame’s best player the last eight since his return. He has seven points in those eight games including four goals.
Notre Dame needs more offense though, and one player to watch in that regard is Ryder Rolston. Rolston started the season strong and jumped out to lead the team early with four goals. He still leads the team with four goals but hasn’t scored in his last five games. His shooting percentage has dipped to 8.7 despite leading the team with 46 shots, 15 more than second place Solag Bakich. Rolston had four points in his four games against Ohio State last year and if I had to pick somebody to get on the scoresheet for the Irish this weekend it would be him and Leivermann.
Like several teams that Notre Dame has faced already this year Ohio State does a good job of prevent their opponents from scoring, but not by saving shots, by preventing the shots from every reaching the net. Starting goaltender Jakub Dobes has a good 2.48 GAA but only a .911 SV%. The Buckeyes have reached those numbers by controlling shots to the tune of a 57.6 CF%. They are also sporting the second best penalty kill in the country, killing 91.3% of opponents power plays. Notre Dame is still struggling on special teams so their scoring may most likely have to come five-on-five.
Notre Dame is currently sitting sixth of seven in the Big Ten standings. While it is early to be looking too closely they are in danger of falling too far behind too quickly. Directly ahead of them is Ohio State, so this series may relieve a lot of pressure from one of the teams. If Notre Dame can go on the road and get a result it sets them up well for the return series at home later in the year. They’ve struggled away from home though including getting swept two weeks ago by Minnesota. If the Irish can get a split this weekend they should consider it a good result.