The #2 ranked Minnesota Gophers hockey team starts the second half of the Big Ten season with a road trip to Notre Dame this weekend looking to remain on top of the conference standings. Minnesota will look to repeat the results of the series between the two teams in November when the Gophers swept the Irish in Minneapolis. Meanwhile a struggling Notre Dame team will look to pick up momentum for the final portion of the season by taking down the top team in the conference.
The Gophers head into the restart of Big Ten play after a home and home split with #3 St. Cloud State last weekend. The vaunted Gopher offense was limited to just two goals against a tight defensive Huskey team, but one of the goals would be a game winner by Logan Cooley in overtime to earn the Gophers a hard fought split and keep them at #1 in the Pairwise Rankings. The quartet of Gophers who had just returned from the US Junior Championships looked a bit tired, and Bob Motzko said in his media scrum this week that he gave them the early portion of the week off this week to let them rest and readjust and get ready for this weekend’s games.
Notre Dame restarted the second half of their Big Ten schedule last weekend and earned a split in Madison against Wisconsin. The Irish were shutout 2-0 on Friday before bouncing back for a 6-4 win on Saturday against the last place team in the conference. Notre Dame is jut 10-10-2 on the season, but are still in a tie for #16 in the pairwise rankings headed into the weekend, and could really use a resume boosting win.
Notre Dame is led offensively by Trevor Janicke who has 15 points and 6 goals in 22 games this season. Ryder Rolston also has six goals on the year for Notre Dame. In goal the Irish have struggled a bit with Ryan Bischel allowing 2 57 goals per game with a save percentage of .924. Bischel picked up both losses in Minnesota’s 4-1 and 3-0 wins in November.
Meanwhile for the Gophers it’s been the youth infusion that has led this team. Jimmy Snuggerud leads the Gophers with 12 goals and 28 points in 22 games with Cooley right behind with 27 points. Mathew Knies also has 12 goals on the season. Both Knies and Snuggerud each has two goals against the Irish in the first meetings. Justen Close has kept the Gophers net clean for most of the season and he rolls into the weekend with a goals against of 2.08 and a save percentage of .919. One of Close’s three shutouts on the season came against the Irish.
Minnesota has won seven of their last eight games against Notre Dame with only an OT loss on the road a season ago being the blemish. This team matches up with the Irish well, and assuming everyone is back to full strength, there is no reason there should not be another sweep on the horizion.
This weekend’s games can only be seen by streaming them on Peacock. You will need to premium tier which is $4.99 a month to see them, or if you have Xfinity you may have that for free with your cable package.
HOW TO WATCH:
#2 Minnesota Gophers @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Where: Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, Indiana
When: 6 PM Friday/ 5 PM Saturday
Radio: 1130 AM/ 103.5 FM/ I Heart Radio App