It is all on the line this weekend for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team, as they travel to visit the Michigan Wolverines and close out the regular season. Michigan, the #4 ranked team in the country, is a tough matchup in the closing weekend for an Irish team that could really use a sweep this weekend.
Where, When, How to Watch
- Where: Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
- When: Friday, February 24, 7:00pm ET (Game 1); Saturday, February 25, 8:00pm ET (Game 2)
- How to Watch: Streaming on BTN+ (Games 1 and 2)
Notre Dame is currently sixth in the Big Ten, but if everything falls their way this weekend they could potentially move all the way up to second. Joshua outline here how that is possible, so I want go over all of the scenarios again, but there is a lot riding on this weekend. Second place won’t get the Irish a bye in the Big Ten tournament, but it will get them a home series and it will keep them away from Minnesota until the final. Both of those things are huge for a team that will most likely need a run in the conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament.
Looking at the NCAA tournament takes us to the Pairwise rankings, as barring an automatic bid from winning the Big Ten, that will be Notre Dame’s ticket in. The Irish are currently #17 in Pairwise, they’ll need to move up at least #12, possibly as high as #10 to receive an at-large bid to the tournament. A sweep this weekend against a higher ranked team and a run in the Big Ten Tournament is the only way to get that high, which is where seeding becomes crucial.
Notre Dame is coming off a bye week, but two weeks ago they took five of a possible six points against the Ohio State Buckeyes with a win and a shootout win. Michigan meanwhile, enters off a series last weekend against the same Ohio State team where they lost in a shootout and in regulation. The thing that Michigan does best is score. They are third in the country with 128 goals on the season and are scoring at a 12% rate. The good news for Notre Dame is that their best player this season has been goaltender Ryan Bischel. He is currently first in the country in saves and third in save percentage. They also give up a lot of goals, they are one of only two ranked teams (out of 17 total) that have surrendered over 100 goals on the season. For reference, Notre Dame is at 85. Expect a high scoring series this weekend.
The Irish and Wolverines have already played one series this season back in November. That one was in South Bend and saw the two teams split the series, Michigan winning game one and Notre Dame coming from behind to win game two. Notre Dame needs to be better this weekend and they need to win both games. Whether that will happen we will soon find out.