No. 14 of the Irish plays No. 1 in Michigan in Ann Arbor // The Observer
After Notre Dame came up short in consecutive conference games against Minnesota, Notre Dame needed a clear win over Wisconsin to avoid falling behind in the Big Ten.
And after sweeping the Badgers, the Irish got their statement victory.
The then 6-3 Irish hosted the 4-5 Badgers at the Compton Family Ice Arena with a little over 4,330 in attendance. The Badgers hit the first in the series despite being on the road, with striker Roman Ahcan scoring a power play goal after an Irish rough penalty.
It would be the first and last goal the Badgers would score at Compton.
Landon Slaggert equalized less than three minutes after the start of the second period, followed shortly after by Jesse Landsell. Notre Dame striker Trevor Janicke ended the season by converting from a Wisconsin penalty to give the Irish a 3-1 lead.
In the third period, Max Ellis put the game on hold and scored twice, once in a power play and an empty net.
In the second game, the Irish scored two goals in the first period, one in a power play from Grant Silianoff and one from Nick Leivermann (4-on-4). The last goal of the game came late in the second, scored by Hunter Strand.
After their run against the Badgers, the Irish improved to 2-2-0 in conference play and 8-3-0 overall. This record is enough for fourth place in the conference.
Notre Dame is followed by Michigan (10-2-0, 5-1-0), Minnesota (7-5-0, 4-1-1) and Ohio State (7-3-0, 4-2-0.) . ). Behind the Irish are the Badgers (4-8-0, 1-4-1), Michigan State (6-5-1, 1-3-0) and Penn State (6-5-0, 0-4-0) ).
In their next series, the Irish will have another chance to gain momentum and make up ground in the conference standings. Your opponent? The # 1 Michigan Wolverine.
Michigan has undoubtedly earned its number one ranking with an NCAA record of 10-2-0. The Wolverines boast high scores; They have scored 52 goals in 12 games, an average of 4.33 goals per game. This is also the highest such grade in the NCAA this season. Unfortunately for the Irish, Michigan is also strong defensively. With 26 goals in 12 games, the 2.17 GAPG ranks the Wolverines 12th in college hockey.
One advantage that I expect the Irish to have in the upcoming series this weekend is the confrontations. The Irish are a top 10 faceoff team with 346-292, or about .542. Michigan isn’t terrible at faceoffs, but they only won 0.511% of their tries (382-366).
As in most games, an important area is the penalty shoot-out. The Irish are an incredibly solid defensive team while Michigan wants to be an offensive force. Both statements apply to the Irish Penalty Kill and the Michigan Power Play. The matchup will essentially be an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object.
The Irish lead the nation on penalty kill percentage. Of the 43 penalties that the Irish shot that allowed power play opportunities, they only allowed two power play goals (0.953). The power play unit will be challenged without question this weekend as Michigan has one of the best attacks in the country. The Wolverines had 48 power play options and converted 15 times (sixth place). That power play percentage ends up at .312, a number that is the third best in the country.
Michigan’s penalty shoot-out session, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as good as their power play session. The Wolverines have killed 41 of their 49 sentences (or roughly .837) making it the 21st best unit in the nation. Fortunately for the Wolverines, the Fighting Irish have an abysmal power play attack. Of the 40 power play opportunities the Irish had, they only turned six times. With 0.150%, Notre Dame is 41st in the NCAA. Yikes
Another reason I want to focus on penalties is that Michigan has, on average, the 10th most penalty minutes per game. It’s much closer to eighth, considering Brown and Yale hit 177 penalty minutes in just seven games together.
Despite their lackluster power play, the Irish are to need to score when Michigan gives them the opportunity. If the Irish can stay out of the box (which they can, 30 penalty minutes per game) and take advantage of Michigan’s frequent penalty kicks, Notre Dame can win this streak.
Well, let me make one caveat. Notre Dame can win this streak if it’s a low score. ND has a top 5 defense in terms of goals conceded, only allowing 1.73 per game. However, they averaged 3.67 goals per game which ranks 11th in the country but falls short of Michigan’s 4.33 goals per game. Fortunately for the Irish, Michigan also allows 2.17 goals per game, meaning ND can score against Michigan; I don’t think they can win a shootout.
Historically Michigan owns the series and leads 83-63-5. But if I had to choose this one, I’d say Notre Dame can bring the breakup to the streets. In the last four series between the two rivals, the home team is 0-8 with a goal difference of 24-7 (-17 at home!). I think there is a difference that Michigan is the best team in college hockey, but the # 14 Irish should at least steal a win on the road.
Game 1: Notre Dame 3 Michigan 4
Game 2: Notre Dame 3 Michigan 2