After a short delay, the #11 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team heads out on the road this weekend for a series with the Wisconsin Badgers. The series, originally scheduled for Thursday and Friday, will take place on Saturday and Sunday after COVID-19 protocols within the Wisconsin program forced a delay. Notre Dame is coming off a sweep of the Penn State Nittany Lions last weekend and will look to continue their winning streak, which currently sits at three games in a row with wins in eight of their last eleven games since January 1.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Kohl Center, Madison, WI
- When: Saturday, February 12, 9:30pm ET (Game 1); Sunday, February 13, 9pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on BTNPlus (Games 1 and 2)
Notre Dame has been playing good if inconsistent hockey since the calendar turned to January, but they put it together last weekend in a great all around series to sweep Penn State. The Irish scored ten goals over two games while allowing only two to a high scoring Nittany Lion team. That includes a shutout from Ryan Bischel, who played both games in net and may be moving into the number one spot there based on recent results. Notre Dame’s ten goals last weekend were also scored by ten different players as they continue to get contributions throughout the lineup.
Despite the solid play though, the series last weekend did little to help Notre Dame’s postseason chances. They still sit tied for 12th in the PairWise rankings, meaning they are right on the bubble of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, depending on what happens with automatic bids from conference champions. Getting into the top 10 there would guarantee them a spot in the field of 16. They also remain 4th in the Big Ten rankings, a spot that won’t change this weekend no matter the results. That spot in the standings will earn them a home series on the opening weekend of the Big Ten Tournament, but if seeds hold, will also see them travel to the highest seed for a series on semifinal weekend, currently that team is Ohio State.
Wisconsin meanwhile comes into the weekend in sixth place in the Big Ten, without much hope at an NCAA Tournament bid unless they can earn the automatic bid for the Big Ten. They’ve struggled to a losing record this year, both in conference play and overall, something they are not accustomed to after several years loaded with NHL talent. The Badgers have struggled on both ends of the ice. They’ve scored only 62 goals this season (tied for 10th worst in the country) while allowing 105 (7th most in the country). That is a recipe that bodes well for Notre Dame.
These two teams have already played one series this season, a sweep by Notre Dame in South Bend all the way back in November. That series was at home, but Notre Dame is also 7-3 on the road this season. Wisconsin has too many holes in their game and the Irish are playing good hockey with a talented lineup from top to bottom. The matchups consistently favor Notre Dame and this is a series where they need to, and should be able to, come away with a sweep to improve their postseason chances.