For most likely the final time this season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team is taking the ice for a home series at Compton Family Ice Arena. This weekend they welcome the Ohio State Buckeyes to South Bend for two games. Notre Dame is coming off of quite possibly their worst series of the season and they’ll be looking to right the ship after a disastrous sweep at the hands of the Michigan State Spartans. The Irish tournament hopes are on the line and they’ll need a big finish to the last two series of the year.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend, IN
- When: Friday February 10, 7:00pm ET (Game 1); Saturday February 11, 6:00pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on Peacock (Games 1 and 2)
Notre Dame put themselves in good position two weeks ago when they managed to sweep the Wisconsin Badgers. They had moved up the Big Ten standings and were right on the cusp of a tournament berth in the Pairwise rankings. then they lost both games last weekend and it all came crashing down. The Irish are now 6th of 7 in the Big Ten and almost certainly looking at a conference tournament of all road games. Should they manage to win round one on the road they’re probably going up against Minnesota in the second round. All of that is to say, things don’t look good right now.
It is even worse when you look at the Pairwise rankings though. Notre Dame’s most likely road to the NCAA tournament, given what their looking at for an automatic bid, would have been an at large bid through Pairwise. They were on their way to that, but last weekend’s sweep saw them drop to 17. 16 teams make the NCAA tournament but with automatic bids factored in a team really needs to be in the 10-12 range to feel safe. The Irish have a long way to go to get there, and it may not even be possible.
Ohio State on the other hand is sitting pretty. They’re currently second in the Big Ten and 8th in Pairwise. In their previous meeting this season, in November in Ohio, the Irish and Buckeyes split the two games. Despite managing to win one though Notre Dame was outscored 5-3 in those two games and came away with a win only because of a Ryan Bischel shutout. That isn’t good new for a team that scored only twice last weekend in losing both games. The offense is going to need to pull things together for this weekend to keep their hopes alive.
Being the last home series of the season there are some special things happening in South Bend. Friday night is fan appreciation night. Saturday meanwhile is senior night and Notre Dame will be honoring 10 members of the team for the final time in a post-game ceremony. The seniors will be looking to go out on top with a win and hopefully sweep.
Notre Dame did not look good last weekend and Ohio State is a good team. They already split a series this weekend and I fully expect that to happen again. The Irish offense really needs to step up at this point to save the season and give some support to the still strong goaltending. That hasn’t happened yet this year though and at the end of the road now maybe this is who they are. Maybe having their backs against the wall is enough to get this team going though. We’ll know soon enough.