Notre Dame faces Minnesota in Big Ten quarterfinals
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, March 5, 2020
After closing out the regular season at home this past weekend with a 2-2 draw against Michigan State, Notre Dame will prepare to make the trip to Minnesota this weekend for the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. The Irish and Golden Gophers will play a best-of-three series as postseason action begins across the conference.
The Irish and Golden Gophers played four times in the regular season, with each team winning once on the road. The two teams also tied twice. Senior forward Cam Morrison and sophomore defenseman Nick Leivermann were the most dominant players for Notre Dame against Minnesota this season. Morrison tallied a goal and four assists in the four games against the Golden Gophers, while Leivermann scored four times in the same stretch. The Irish finished fifth in the tightly bunched Big Ten standings, while the Golden Gophers finished in a three-way tie for second and were given the fourth seed based on tiebreakers.
The Irish are looking to claim their third-straight Big Ten title and have been unbeatable in postseason play since joining the conference, going 6-0-0 in tournament play. Senior goaltender Cale Morris has started all six of those games and has been a brick wall in front of the net, stopping 210 of 217 shots for a .968 save percentage. Morris has been named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player each of the last two seasons.
These two teams certainly have some postseason history, as Notre Dame defeated Minnesota 2-1 last March in the Big Ten semifinal at Compton Family Ice Arena behind an overtime winner by sophomore forward Michael Graham. Notre Dame would go on to claim their second consecutive Big Ten title after defeating Penn State 3-2 in the Big Ten championship game.
This will be the first time the Irish will play a conference tournament game on the road. However, head coach Jeff Jackson said in his press conference following Saturday’s game he and his team are not concerned about playing away from home. Jackson also said his team seems to be more focused on the road, as the Irish have gone 3-0-1 in their last two road series.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, No.2 seed Ohio State will host No.7 seed Wisconsin, while No. 3 seed Michigan will host No. 6 seed Michigan State. Top seeded Penn State will have a bye to the semifinals and will play the lowest remaining seed after this weekend’s quarterfinals.
Opening faceoff between Notre Dame and Minnesota will be at 8 p.m. Friday from 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.