The Notre Dame Fighting Irish began their second semester slate last weekend with a non-conference series against the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks. Notre Dame picked up right where they left off though, losing game one and winning game two for a series split. That has been the formula for five straight series now for the Irish. They return to Big Ten conference play this weekend by visiting the Wisconsin Badgers, the last place team in the conference.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Kohl Center, Madison Wisconsin
- When: Friday, January 6, 8:00pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, January 7, 6:30pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on BTN+ (Game 1); Big Ten Network (Game 2)
Continuing his strong play this season, Ryan Bischel opened 2023 with a shutout of Alaska, his fourth of the season. He is so far the only goalie in college hockey to have a shutout in the calendar year. Bischel currently ranks third in the country with 617 saves so far this season, but as good as he has been, Notre Dame should be looking to take some of the pressure off of him moving forward.
One way to do that is to keep improving the offense and the Irish have taken steps in that direction recently. Chayse Primeau has picked up play recently with a goal last weekend and points in two of his last three games. He is now third on the team with 4 goals and 12 points and tied for first with 8 assists. On the opposite end of the spectrum, one player struggling so far this season is Landon Slaggert. He has missed two games this season but has recorder only 4 points. Slaggert is too good of a player to continue in this way, and part of his struggles have been that he is shooting only 5.9%, below the already low team percentage of 8.5. Confidence goes a long way in hockey and getting a goal or multi-point game could be just the spark Slaggert needs, but either way I would expect a turnaround from him soon.
Wisconsin is currently the only team behind Notre Dame in the Big Ten standings. Part of that reason comes down to similar bad luck to Notre Dame, as the Badgers are shooting an even lower 7.6% on the season. In terms of goals for and against both the Badgers and Irish are very similar. Wisconsin has scored one more goal on the season but allowed seven more. That points to where Notre Dame really has the advantage, in net. Senior goaltender Jared Moe has played 17 of Wisconsin’s and holds a .913 SV%. Notre Dame can take advantage here and will need to in order to come away with the series win.
Notre Dame has fallen into a trend of losing game one of their series and coming back to win game two. While they’ve done well avoiding getting swept splitting every series is also not enough winning to get them to the NCAA tournament. We’re at the point in the season where they will need to make a run and put together a few sweeps to cement their spot in the 16 team field and they can start this weekend against last place Wisconsin.