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No. 20 Irish Hockey splits series at No. 12/13 Ohio State

Despite its scoring woes, the No. 20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team ground out a weekend split against the No. 12/13 Ohio State Buckeyes. After Ohio State won the Friday contest 5-2, the Irish bounced back with a 1-0 victory Saturday.

Ohio State wins Friday, 5-2

In Friday’s contest, Ohio State used three third-period goals to come away with a 5-2 win. 

After Ohio State got on the board four minutes into the game with a goal from Davis Burnside, the Irish were able to answer when senior forward Trevor Janicke found the back of the net on a one-timer with 44 seconds remaining in the first period. Graduate student defenseman Chase Blackmun set up the goal. 

The Irish then took the lead in the second period, as freshman forward Fin Williams scored from an unlikely angle near the goal line. It was the first career goal for the North Vancouver, BC, native, who dropped to a knee to celebrate.

Williams’ goal was a huge break for the Irish. The momentum continued to swing in Notre Dame’s direction minutes later when Ohio State’s Tyler Duke was whistled for slashing. With a chance to increase their lead to two on the power play, things were looking up for the Irish. 

The Buckeyes, though, had other plans. On the ensuing power play, Ohio State took a dagger to Notre Dame’s momentum. Not only did they have a successfully kill the penalty, but the Buckeyes added a shorthanded goal to boot. Defenseman Dominic Vidoli started the breakout himself, hopped up into the rush, and then finished off a beautiful give-and-go with Tate Singleton to tie the game at two.

In the third, Singleton would chip in with a goal of his own to put the Buckeyes up 3-2. Less than 90 seconds later, team scoring leader Jake Wise added a power-play insurance marker for Ohio State to make it 4-2. An empty net goal finished the night off in Columbus, with the home side coming out on top 5-2.

Irish find a way with 1-0 win Saturday

Back in the lineup after missing Friday’s game, graduate student forward Jack Adams scored 2 minutes and 33 seconds into the game Saturday night to provide the lone goal of the evening. Up 1-0 early, the Irish never looked back. Thanks to stellar defense and goaltending, they remain a perfect 4-0-0 when scoring the first goal.

Notre Dame received excellent goaltending from senior Ryan Bischel, who stopped all 37 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season. It was the fifth time this season Bischel has made 35 or more saves in a game. Bischel has started all 13 games for the Irish this year. And he may well have stolen his team a win on Saturday night.

That’s not to discredit the Irish skaters, who were also stout defensively in front of their goaltender. Notre Dame blocked 18 Buckeye shots, killed off three Ohio State power plays, and withstood a third-period barrage that saw Ohio State outshoot Notre Dame 19-3.

For Adams, the goal marked his first of the season. On his first shift of the game, Adams went straight to the front of the net as senior defenseman Nick Leivermann led the attack into the Ohio State defensive zone. The 6′ 6” Adams and a linemate, 6′ 4” freshman Niko Jovanovic, both set up shop outside the paint. Leivermann took a lap behind the Ohio State net and came out to the top of the far faceoff circle.

The offensively-minded Leivermann then smartly exposed the Ohio State defense with a cross-seam pass to his partner Blackmun. Blackmun hesitated before firing a shot to the front of the net. The rebound came loose, and Adams was able to use his large frame to grab the puck and sandwich it between the legs of Ohio State goaltender Jakub Dobes for the score.

Remarkably, Adams’ early goal proved to be the game-winner, his second career game-winning goal in a Notre Dame uniform.

Looking ahead

The weekend split keeps the Irish at .500 for the season, with a 6-6-2 overall record. In the Big Ten, Notre Dame is sixth with a 3-4-1 record in conference play.

Notre Dame will travel to Boston this Thanksgiving week to play against both the Boston University Terriers and Boston College Eagles. Wednesday, Notre Dame is playing at BU at 5 p.m. On Friday, they will travel to Chestnut Hill to play the Eagles at 4 p.m. Wednesday’s game will be available on ESPNU. Friday’s can be seen on ESPN+.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu.

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Irish hockey faces road test at Ohio State

With five of their six Big Ten league opponents ranked in NCAA hockey’s top 20, the #20 Notre Dame hockey team is no stranger to top-20 matchups. This weekend is no different, as the Irish travel to Columbus for a ranked battle with the #12/13 Ohio State Buckeyes. It is set to be an important series for both sides, as Ohio State tries to get back on track after being swept at Michigan State and Notre Dame looks to build off the momentum of last Saturday’s overtime win against Michigan.

Series History

 The Irish and Buckeyes have played 94 times since their first meeting in the 1968-69 season, and the series has been close throughout. Notre Dame holds the overall edge with a 42-41-11 record against Ohio State, although the Buckeyes lead the series on their home ice 21-19-7.

Last year, Ohio State took seven of 12 available points in the season series, with two regulation wins and an overtime loss. Despite that, Notre Dame narrowly edged Ohio State for the third seed — and first round home ice — in last year’s Big Ten tournament.

Among the ties between the teams is longtime Notre Dame associate head coach Paul Pooley. Pooley is a 1984 graduate of Ohio State and holds Buckeye hockey’s career records for goals (114), assists (156) and points (270). He also got his coaching start at Ohio State in 1988 and had his number retired by the program before a game between the Irish and Buckeyes in 2006. Pooley is now in his 18th season behind the Notre Dame bench. 

Scouting the Buckeyes

Ohio State was one of the final teams left out of last year’s NCAA tournament. With 22 players from that squad returning, the Buckeyes opened this season with motivation and a vengeance. One of the hottest teams in the nation at the time, they attracted eyes around the country with a 7-1-1 start. The best results from that streak were 0-0 tie at current #7/8 Connecticut and a 6-4 win against #2 Minnesota. The Buckeyes, though, have cooled off lately, and are losers of three straight. Coming out of an open weekend, Ohio State was swept by surging Michigan State in two close games last weekend.

As a veteran team, depth has been the key to Ohio State’s success this season, and it will continue to be. All 21 players with at least five games played so far have one point or more for the Buckeyes, and 15 have one goal or more.

The Buckeye depth is especially strong down the middle, with their top three centers leading the team in scoring. Graduate student Jake Wise, a 2018 draftee of the Chicago Blackhawks, leads all skaters with five goals and 12 points. Wise played three years at Boston University before transferring to Ohio State last year. Meanwhile, freshman Stephen Halliday (a 2022 4th round pick by Ottawa) and junior Travis Treloar are right behind Wise, with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Special teams have also been key for the Buckeyes, who are second in the nation on the penalty kill. Much of that has to do with consistent goaltending by sophomore Jakub Dobes, who has started all 12 games this year for Ohio State while posting a .911 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average. A native of the Czech Republic, Dobes played in 35 games last year as a freshman for the Buckeyes, finishing the year with an outstanding .931 save percentage. He is a 5th round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens from 2020.

Scouting the Irish

Notre Dame is coming off a momentum changing, 3-2 overtime win against rival Michigan last Saturday night. Previously, the Irish had lost 3 straight games, including a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Wolverines the night before. When, the next night, the Irish headed to the locker room after the first period trailing 2-0, there was little life in Compton Family Ice Arena. The feeling seemed to be that Notre Dame was on the precipice of getting swept for the second weekend in a row.

But the Irish had something to say about that. Grappling their way back into the game, Notre Dame tied the score late in the second period. After a stalemate third, junior forward Grant Silianoff scored the dramatic game winner 2:26 into overtime, and life burst anew for the Fighting Irish.

“I’m hoping we can build on what we did Saturday as opposed to taking a step back,” head coach Jeff Jackson said Wednesday. “I think a lot of it had to do with playing with better discipline, both within our system and not taking unnecessary penalties.”

Puck management was also key for Notre Dame in the win. In the second and third periods of the Saturday contest, the Irish made good decisions with the puck, controlling possession in the offensive zone and on zone entries. Puck management will continue to be important for the team going forward.

“For me, it’s about just doing a better job with the puck — both off the rush on our entries into the offensive zone, and then in the offensive zone. To me, those are the things that impact the game the most for us,” Jackson said.

As Notre Dame seeks to capitalize on the fresh momentum, they will be forced to find results on the road. Road games have been a challenge this year for the Irish, who are winless in five games away from Compton.

“We’ve always been a good road team, and yet we haven’t won a road game yet this year, and that gives me a little pause,” Jackson said.

The Irish will play their next four on the road. This weekend sees two games at Value City Arena against Ohio State before the Irish head east to Boston. Notre Dame will play the 6-3-0 Boston University Terriers at Agganis Arena Wednesday, then will go across town to take on the Boston College Eagles on Friday.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu

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Irish battle to split series against No. 3 Michigan

By Tom Zwiller and Andrew McGuinness

No. 18 Notre Dame hockey began its series against the No. 3 University of Michigan Wolverines on Friday night. In honor of Veterans Day, the sellout crowd sang the national anthem. And at its conclusion, four army ROTC cadets repelled from the jumbotron catwalk.

The game was incredibly physical before the puck drop, with both sets of wings getting into skirmishes awaiting the opening faceoff.

Early in the first, graduate student defenseman Nick Leivermann took a cross-checking penalty, giving Michigan the man advantage.

The Wolverines utilized the powerplay efficiently, scoring just under a minute into the penalty. Mackie Samsokevich took a pass from Luke Hughes and carried it from point to point. His cross-ice shot hit the post and bounced in, giving the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.

After a Luca Fantilli holding penalty gave the Irish a man advantage, Michigan was nearly able to kill off the penalty, clearing the puck twice. However, with just 14 seconds left in the penalty, Leivermann took a shot just above the left faceoff circle. The puck made its way behind the net, where graduate student forward Chayse Primeau found an open Leivermann, who buried the puck.

Early in the second, a poor turnover by sophomore forward Hunter Strand allowed Michigan’s T.J. Hughes to take advantage of an unset Notre Dame defense. Hughes found Eric Ciccolini, who scored from the slot to put the Wolverines up 2-1.

With just under nine minutes in the second, Michigan continued their aggressive play and scored the third goal, with Dylan Duke tipping a shot from Adam Fantilli right outside the crease.

Shortly after, an excellent breakout pass by Keaton Pehrson allowed Jackson Hallum an odd-man rush opportunity. Hallum beat his man, who appeared to be coming from a line change, creating a one-on-one with Irish graduate student netminder Ryan Bischel. Hallum beat him to the right with a backhand shot.

Irish senior forward Jesse Lansdell would provide the Wolverines with another power play opportunity with a tripping penalty. And the No. 2 power play unit in the country got to work. Off a faceoff in the Irish zone, Samoskevich found T.J. Hughes in the slot, and he put the Wolverines up 5-1.

The third period saw no goals for either team. Instead, a slew of penalties would make a minor league hockey team blush. The Irish had five penalties. Sophomore defenseman Ryan Helliwell earned a roughing minor. Senior forward Trevor Janicke earned two trips to the box. And his brother, sophomore forward Justin Janicke, got a 10-minute misconduct for roughing.

Not to be outdone, Michigan committed eight penalties, including two misconducts. One of which was a charging the goalie penalty by Nolan Moyle, who was ejected from the game.

Saturday’s game, however, would play out much differently. The Irish got off to a fairly strong start, generating several odd-man rushes and catching an early post courtesy of sophomore center Tyler Carpenter. However, the Wolverines would answer that close chance almost immediately after with a goal. Ethan Edwards cleaned up a rebound on a shot from the left point that was deflected en route to Bischel.

For the second straight night, special teams appeared to be tilting things in Michigan’s favor for good. The Irish generated tons of pressure on their first man advantage of the night but couldn’t light the lamp. The Irish did keep the Wolverines at bay for most of their first power play. But almost out of nowhere, Samoskevich beat Bischel clean with a wrist shot from the left hash marks, doubling the Michigan lead.

But this time, the Irish would not go quietly. Their performance in the second period wasn’t the prettiest — Notre Dame was outshot 8-6 and took a couple of penalties. But the finish they lacked in the first was suddenly readily available. For an Irish team looking for more from its depth, head coach Jeff Jackson had to be encouraged by the gorgeous passing play his fourth-line put together that ended with graduate student right winger Jack Adams finding Carpenter backdoor for his first goal of the year.

Then, a somewhat contested too-many-men call went against Michigan with 2:07 left in the second, giving the Irish a golden chance to equalize. Sure enough, they would take advantage, with Leivermann making an excellent pass to set up Primeau for a backdoor tap-in.

The Irish came out guns blazing to start the third, registering the frame’s first four shots and forcing Michigan netminder Erik Portillo to make some difficult saves. Bischel picked up his game too after the somewhat shaky Samoskevich goal, including a massive breakaway stop on Hallum about five minutes into the third. He then denied Wolverines star Luke Hughes off a net-mouth scramble a few moments later. Portillo answered with a huge stop on Notre Dame graduate student defenseman Ben Brinkman off a similar sequence.

After the Irish were unable to capitalize on another late period power play, overtime became necessary for the third time in Notre Dame’s season. After a strong defensive play by junior right winger Ryder Rolston to prevent a breakaway from Michigan’s Rutger McGroarty, senior left winger Grant Silanoff ended the game at the other end, with the rebound of his shot on a 2-on-1 caroming in off a sliding Edwards.

The victory was a much-needed one for the Irish. Before Saturday, they had lost three straight in regulation and had not won a game since Oct. 28. For most of the year, Notre Dame has not looked like the NCAA Tournament-caliber team they were last season. Now, this Irish squad knows they can skate with some of the best college hockey has to offer. That type of confidence boost could mean far more to their season than an already impressive victory over the talented Wolverines.

Contact Tom Zwiller at tzwiller@hcc-nd.edu and Andrew McGuinness at amcguinn@nd.edu.

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Notre Dame to meet No. 3 Michigan on the ice

Notre Dame hockey and its November gauntlet will return to Compton Family Ice Arena this weekend. The third-ranked Michigan Wolverines, the reigning Big Ten champions, await. The Irish have taken eight of the last ten regular-season meetings with the Wolverines, but Michigan defeated Notre Dame in last season’s conference semifinals. 

This will be a crucial early-season series for the Irish, who check in at 4-4-2 and 1-2-1 in Big Ten play. They slipped six spots to No. 18 in the USCHO poll after a lopsided sweep at the hands of top-ranked Minnesota. The Golden Gophers dished out 4-1 and 3-0 defeats, outshooting Notre Dame 85-46 in the process. To make matters worse, the Irish totaled 29 penalty minutes across the two games, putting themselves behind the eight ball repeatedly against an elite opponent.

High-scoring Michigan offense poses challenge

Offensive consistency and man-down situations have been Notre Dame’s primary issues through the opening month, and both have contributed heavily to the team’s active three-game winless streak. Junior Ryder Rolston continues to lead the Irish in goals (4) and points (9), but he was stymied over the weekend. On the other hand, senior goaltender Ryan Bischel was a bright spot, making 45 saves on Friday night and lifting his season save percentage to an impressive .932.

The Wolverines, coached by Michigan alum Brandon Naurato, have scored their way to an 8-2-0 record. Michigan has potted five or more goals in six games already, including a 9-2 rout of No. 14 Boston University on October 14. They also notched back-to-back five-goal efforts against No. 17 Western Michigan two weekends ago. The offense has cooled off a bit recently, posting less than 30 shots on goal in three straight games.

Last weekend, Michigan earned a split with No. 8 Penn State, falling 3-0 on Friday but prevailing 4-3 in overtime on Saturday. The Wolverines coughed up a three-goal third-period lead in game two, but freshman forward Adam Fantilli delivered the game-winner. While Notre Dame’s penalty killers have scuffled early on, Michigan’s power play has shined. The Wolverines have converted on 31% of their man advantage opportunities, cranking out as many as five power-play goals in a game this year.

Youth, star power lead Michigan offense

Michigan hockey is young but extremely skilled. As of last Friday, eight of their top nine forwards were freshmen or sophomores, even with star freshman forward Frank Nazar out of the lineup. The 13th overall pick of the Blackhawks could miss the remainder of the season due to a lower-body injury. Michigan’s crown jewel is Adam Fantilli, who is projected to be among the first three selected in next year’s draft. Fantilli made his collegiate debut before turning 17, yet he is setting the ice on fire for the Wolverines. After posting 74 points in 54 games for the USHL’s Chicago Steel last season, he leads college hockey with 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in 10 games. On Michigan’s top line, he is flanked by sophomores Dylan Duke and Mackie Samoskevich, who have posted a combined 25 points to open the year. 

NHL draft picks anchor Wolverine defense

On the back end, each of the Wolverines’ top four defensemen is an NHL draft pick. They are anchored by the pairing of junior Jacob Truscott and sophomore Luke Hughes, the New Jersey Devils’ 4th overall pick in last year’s entry draft. Junior goaltender Erik Portillo made the season’s first eight starts, posting a 7-1 record with a .905 save percentage. Fellow junior Noah West covered both starts against Penn State, however, stopping 78 out of 83 shots in the series split.

With Notre Dame football in Baltimore for the weekend, this top-20 matchup will play out in the traditional Friday-Saturday format. Game one will drop the puck at 7:30 p.m., while game two will commence at 6 p.m. Following the series, Michigan will return home to end November against No. 1 Minnesota and No. 13 Harvard.

Meanwhile, the Irish will not play another home game until Dec. 9, traveling to Ohio State, Boston University and Boston College to wrap up the month. Notre Dame and Michigan will meet again in Ann Arbor to close the regular season on Feb. 24 and 25.

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No. 12 Irish swept by No. 3 Minnesota

The No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team fell twice on the road this weekend at No. 3 Minnesota, 4-1 and 3-0.

In game one on Friday night, the Golden Gophers shelled the Fighting Irish net with 54 total shots on goal. After a scoreless first, Minnesota got on the board in the second period with a goal from Mason Nevers, who was left unguarded in front of the net on a centering pass. Seven minutes later, the Golden Gophers struck shorthanded, as sophomore Matthew Knies scored on a breakaway. With Minnesota, up 2-0 after the second, freshman Jimmy Snuggerud scored twice for the home squad in the third to put the game out of reach. The Irish finally found twine on a goal from sophomore forward Justin Janicke with just 46 seconds left in the game. It was the only goal Notre Dame would score this weekend.

The shot column was closer on Saturday night in game two, but the result remained the same. Minnesota got an even-strength goal from senior Jaxon Nelson and a power-play goal from Knies in the second period to go up 2-0 after two again. Then in the third, freshman Logan Cooley finished things off with an empty netter.

The line of Knies, Cooley and Snuggerud was dominant this weekend for Minnesota. The three former first-round picks combined for 5 goals and 9 total points, accounting for 50% of the Gophers’ points output this weekend.

Senior goaltender Justen Close started both games for Minnesota. He kicked out 44 of 45 shots to bring his save percentage to .919 this season. Senior Ryan Bischel started both games for Notre Dame as well, with freshman Jack Williams playing 7 minutes of time in relief of Bischel to end Friday night’s game. The Irish net-minders combined to allow 6 goals on a whopping 74 shots against, good for a .918 team save percentage this weekend.

Minnesota and Notre Dame will meet again when the Gophers travel to South Bend in mid-January. In the meantime, Minnesota will remain home this weekend to take on high-flying Penn State, who is off to a 9-1-0 start. The Irish return to Compton Family Ice Arena to host rival Michigan. The puck drops Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m.

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu

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No. 12 Irish travel to No. 3 Gophers for Big Ten series

The No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s ice hockey team travels to Minneapolis this weekend to take on the No. 3 Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday and Saturday night. It is the second Big Ten Conference series of the season for both sides, and key points in the standings are up for grabs. 

Series History

Overall, Minnesota leads the series 35-24-5 over 64 games played. The Gophers also lead the series on their home ice 20-13-3. Of late, Minnesota has won seven of the last 10 games between the two teams. Last season they won three of four, including a late-October sweep in Minneapolis. Notre Dame did win the final meeting of the season, though, collecting a 3-2 win on Landon Slaggert’s overtime winner. 

What Notre Dame is trying to do this weekend — sweep Minnesota on the road — has proven to be incredibly challenging. The last time Notre Dame swept the Gophers on the road was during the COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 season. Prior to that, the Irish had not swept a series in Minneapolis since the 1971-72 season. 

Scouting the Gophers

This Minnesota team is — as usual — loaded with talent, and they’ve restocked again this year. With 14 NHL draft picks on the roster, there is no shortage of big names to watch this weekend.

The duo of freshmen Jimmy Snuggerud and Logan Cooley particularly stand out. After being held without a point in the first weekend series, Snuggerud scored a hat trick in his third career game for Minnesota and has been on a tear ever since. He currently leads the team in goals with six and is averaging just over a point per game. Snuggerud was a first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues back in June.

Cooley, 2022 third overall pick of the Arizona Coyotes, has centered Snuggerud’s line so far this year and is also among the team leaders in points with seven. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies and Montreal Canadiens draftee Rhett Pitlick are two more forwards to keep an eye on.

Despite the depth up front, Minnesota’s points leader so far this year is a defenseman, senior Jackson LaCombe. LaCombe is a true veteran standout, as he is a fourth-year senior and has led all Gophers defensemen in scoring each of the last two seasons. LaCombe, who the Anaheim Ducks drafted 39th overall back in 2019, has three goals and seven assists so far and is well on his way to matching his 30-point season last year.

In goal, senior Justen Close has carried the load. He has played in 7 of 8 games so far this season and has posted a 2.28 goals against average with a .900 save percentage. It’s a fair assumption that he will start both games this weekend.

Like most top-tier programs, Minnesota’s early season schedule has been a rather difficult one. After sweeping Lindenwood to start the season, the Gophers faced top-15 opponents on each of the last three weekends and will face off against their fourth straight top-15 team when the Irish come to town. Minnesota has earned a split in each of those last three series, playing against in-state rival No. 6/7 Minnesota State, historic rival No. 10/11 North Dakota and red-hot No. 9 Ohio State. They enter this weekend with a 5-3-0 overall record.

Scouting the Irish

The veteran Irish come into this weekend with a 4-2-2 record but have struggled to find consistency to start the season.

“I think we are a work in progress, frankly. I don’t think we are on all cylinders yet,” Head coach Jeff Jackson said this week, discussing his team’s start to the season.

Last weekend, Notre Dame opened conference play against Michigan State with a 5-0 win and looked dominant from puck drop to game’s end. The Irish got goals from 5 different scorers in that one, including one from junior Ryder Rolston, who leads the team in goals (4) and points (9). On the following night, though, the Irish offense that flowed so freely the night before was unable to break through. Notre Dame settled for a 1-1 tie. It was just another example that the Irish are still striving for consistency.  

“We still need to find that consistency in our game, because right now, from game to game, I’m not really sure what we’re going to see,” said Jackson.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Notre Dame will certainly rely on the efforts of senior goaltender Ryan Bischel. Bischel has put together a string of strong outings recently. The Minnesota native had a stout performance against Michigan State, during which he stopped 71 of 72 shots across the two-game slate. Bischel has started all of Notre Dame’s games so far, and all indications show that will more or less continue throughout the year. 

Notre Dame will also look to six native Minnesotans this weekend to pitch in while playing in their home state, including graduate student defenseman Ben Brinkman, who spent the previous four seasons playing for the Gophers. Brinkman played 140 games in his Minnesota career, registering 23 points. Brinkman did not play last weekend against Michigan State. 

Contact Ryan Murphy at rmurph22@nd.edu.

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Irish prepare to meet Spartans in Big Ten opener

Throughout the first month of the season, Fighting Irish hockey has become well-acquainted with The Great Lakes State. Having already squared off with Northern Michigan and Western Michigan, Notre Dame now turns its attention to the Michigan State Spartans. This weekend’s series in South Bend will usher in Big Ten action, marking the first of twelve series on both teams’ conference slates. The matchup will also serve as a crucial segue for the 12th-ranked Irish, whose seven games to follow are against teams rated above them.

Michigan State: From the Ground Up

After losing 15 out of 16 games to end the 2021-22 season, the Spartans are off to a promising start. Under head coach Adam Nightingale, they enter with a 4-2-0 record — all against unranked opponents. The Spartans split a home-and-away series with Bowling Green to open the campaign, then split with UMass-Lowell and swept Long Island on home ice. Last weekend, MSU dominated both ends of the two-game series, handling the Sharks 3-1 on Friday and 8-4 on Saturday. Defense was the story of game one, as the Spartans limited LIU to just 15 shots on goal. Saturday saw Michigan State crank out eight goals for the first time in nine years, pummeling the visitors with 50 shots on goal. Senior forward Jagger Joshua registered his first career hat trick, and the Spartan power play scored four times in seven opportunities. On the weekend, seven of MSU’s eleven goal-contributors were first-time scorers.

In a limited sample size, Michigan State’s offense is clicking. The Spartans, on average, are outshooting opponents 37.7 to 23.3, and outscoring them 3.3 to 2.5. They have racked up at least 39 shots on goal in four of six games, and have yet to allow more than 30 shots on goal in a game. MSU’s top forward line consists of two freshmen in addition to Joshua, but the newcomers have been magnificent in adjusting to the college game. Daniel Russell leads the team with nine points, while Karsen Dorwart has already amassed five assists. All six players on their second and third forward lines have over 60 games of collegiate experience, while MSU’s top three defensemen have combined to play 397 NCAA games. 

Between the pipes, graduate student Dylan St. Cyr is an undersized, yet effective goaltender. He stands at just 5-foot-8, but is coming off a spectacular season at Quinnipiac, in which he posted a .936 save percentage and 1.16 goals against average. St. Cyr is also no stranger to Compton Family Ice Arena. He started 30 games for the Fighting Irish between 2017 and 2021. This Spartans team is much improved from last year’s debacle, already producing noticeably better results in the non-conference schedule. Their combination of youthful skill and well-documented experience should serve them well in South Bend and beyond.

Notre Dame: A Need for Consistency

Notre Dame’s opponents between November 4-23 are ranked, on average, sixth in the country. The Irish (3-2-1) cannot expect to easily create rhythm against the big dogs, so the time is now for them to build some serious momentum. They started the year with uncertainty, as they lost handily to third-ranked Denver and needed a wild comeback to tie Air Force, but then rattled off three straight wins over Northern Michigan and Western Michigan. The thrill of Friday’s 2-0 defeat of the 17th-ranked Broncos quickly turned sour in a rough, 4-0 loss on Saturday. Western Michigan outshot the Irish 38-22 in game two, peppering the visitors with 29 shots on goal through two periods. Though Notre Dame has struggled on the road (0-2-1), they are still a perfect 3-0-0 in South Bend, favoring a resurgent effort this weekend.

One season has made quite the difference for the Irish penalty kill. After posting one of the best kill percentages in college hockey last year, Notre Dame has survived just 74.1 percent of opposing power plays. In the 4-0 loss to WMU, the Irish asked for trouble by making four trips to the penalty box before receiving a single man advantage. Junior forward Ryder Rolston’s three goals and six points lead the team, and his 28 shots are twice the amount of the next-highest shooter. Graduate student forward Chayse Primeau has arrived from Omaha on a mission, tallying five points and winning an impressive 59.3 percent of face-offs. Should their production carry into conference play, Notre Dame will be well-prepared to shine in big games.

On the defensive end, junior Drew Bavaro has stepped up with four assists, while sophomore Ryan Helliwell has been reliable with a team-best +5 plus-minus. Senior goaltender Ryan Bischel’s performance will make for an intriguing matchup in net. Bischel pitched a shutout last Friday and collected 31 saves in Saturday’s loss, bringing his season save percentage to a fine .913 mark. 

Series History and Statistics 

Notre Dame and Michigan State have appeared in 36 combined national tournaments and 13 Frozen Fours. Since Notre Dame joined the Big Ten prior to the 2017-18 season, the Irish lead the series 13-5 with four ties. However, Michigan State has tightened up the margin over the last three seasons, as Notre Dame is just 5-4-4 against the Spartans during that time frame. Last year, the teams split the South Bend leg before Notre Dame earned a sweep in East Lansing. After this weekend’s bout, the two will meet again at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 3 and 4.

Contact Tyler Reidy at treidy3@nd.edu

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Morris: How former Irish hockey players are doing professionally

With the NHL season getting underway last week, all 32 clubs have solidified their rosters for the upcoming year. Among these, there are 26 former Notre Dame players looking to make an impact, whether it is at the highest level or some other professional league, such as the AHL. Some have been doing it for a decade, some just signed their first big, lucrative contract and others are just scratching the surface of their potential. 

Group 1: The Returning Stars

Anders Lee and Kyle Palmieri (NYI), Bryan Rust (PIT) Cal Petersen (LA)

The four names above are without a doubt the best active Notre Dame alums in the NHL. Anders Lee is a former 40-goal scorer with three other years of at least 28 goals under his belt, including the 2021-22 season. His teammate, Kyle Palmieri, saw less success last season, but has a history of excellence with five consecutive seasons of 24 goals or more from 2015-16 to 2019-20. Bryan Rust is arguably the best alum from Notre Dame currently, having just produced 58 points in 60 games on the Pittsburgh Penguins first line, alongside superstar Sidney Crosby. Rust, age 30, recently signed a six-year contract extension to stay with the Penguins for the rest of his prime. The right winger already has two Stanley Cup championships under his belt and will look for his third this upcoming year. The last big-name Irish alum is goaltender Cal Petersen, who started his Los Angeles Kings career strong with a .924 save percentage (SVP) in his first eleven NHL games. He should bounce back after a down year in 2021-22 to reclaim the crease in LA.

Group 2: The Key Depth Pieces

Anders Bjork, Vinnie Hinostroza and Riley Sheahan (BUF), Jake Evans (MTL) Andrew Peeke (CBJ)

This second tier of players is comprised of five ex-Fighting Irish who officially made their team’s NHL roster but will not litter the scoresheet with goals every other night. Anders Bjork, a fifth-round draft pick in 2014, has struggled to find consistent success at the NHL level, but will nonetheless compete for a role in the bottom six on the playoff-hopeful Buffalo Sabres. Vinnie Hinostroza is a lock to play every game when healthy for Buffalo. He has been skating on the team’s third line during training camp and will open the season there. Riley Sheahan will start the year on the Injured Reserve (IR), but when he returns, will be an important depth center for a team whose penalty kill ranked 23rd out of 32 teams last year. Jake Evans will have an expanded role with the lowly Montreal Canadiens this upcoming year, which should help him surpass his current career-high of 29 points. He may even be able to reach his total from his senior year at Notre Dame when he scored 46 points in just 40 games. Andrew Peeke will also see an expanded role in 2022-23 on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ blue line. Peeke signed a three-year contract extension with the Jackets on Sept. 28, which kicks in at the conclusion of the 2023 playoffs. Peeke is known for his defensive prowess, with 191 hits and 169 blocked shots in 2021-22.

Group 3: The Potential Call-Ups

Steven Fogarty (MIN), Dennis Gilbert (CGY), Robbie Russo (NJ), Alex Steeves (TOR) T.J. Tynan (LA)

Everyone in this group has played multiple NHL games in their career at some point, but they will all be starting the 2022-23 campaign on their respective teams’ minor league affiliate. Steven Fogarty has spent time with the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres across his professional career after four years with Notre Dame (2012-16). He is under contract with the Minnesota Wild for 2023. Dennis Gilbert signed with the Calgary Flames this offseason after two successful years in the Colorado Avalanche pipeline. His 21 NHL games played in 2019-20 suggest he is certainly a viable option for the Flames to summon if they need extra depth on their back end. Robbie Russo is among the oldest of the group at 29 years old and has not played an NHL game since 2016-17. However, he had a productive year with the Utica Comets last year and will resume play with them once again in 2022-23 despite being under contract with the New Jersey Devils. Alex Steeves was a dark horse to make the Toronto Maple Leafs’ roster this year but failed to do so. He had an exceptional run with the Fighting Irish in 2020-21 with 32 points in 29 games, and at just 22 years old, has all the potential to become an everyday NHLer soon. T.J. Tynan dominated the AHL last year with 98 points in 62 games, good for the best point-per-game ratio in the league among qualified skaters. He could provide excellent depth scoring for the Kings in a pinch.

Group 4: The Colorado Avalanche Draft Picks

Cal Burke and Nate Clurman (COL), Cam Morrison (FLA) Jordan Gross (NSH)

The Colorado Avalanche just won the Stanley Cup, probably thanks to all the ND alums they consistently draft. The four players in this list are just a few examples of excellent scouting on the Avalanche’s part. Cal Burke spent four years at Notre Dame — one as the captain, in 2019-20 — and will look to build off his 26-point season for the Colorado Eagles of the AHL. Nate Clurman was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and battled to make the Eagles’ roster, but was sent down to the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) to open the season. Cam Morrison is a former second round pick who donned the green and gold from 2016-17 through 2019-20. He is slated to begin the year with the Florida Everblades, the Florida Panthers’ ECHL affiliate. Jordan Gross led all defensemen in points in the AHL last season with 65 in 61 games. He inked a deal with the Nashville Predators during the offseason and will look to continue his success there — and perhaps earn an NHL call-up.

Group 5: The AHLers

Cale Morris (CHI), Bobby Nardella (WSH), Mike O’Leary (MIN) Colin Theisen (ARZ)

This group is for players who were instrumental to the Fighting Irish during their college tenure but will likely never make the biggest stage. Even so, AHL players earn six figures and get to play hockey as a job. Cale Morris is a goalie who will aim to win the minor league starting job for the Chicago Wolves. Bobby Nardella, a former alternate captain at ND, is a defenseman under contract for the Washington Capitals for the upcoming year. Mike O’Leary spent the last two years in the Rangers’ organization before signing with the Minnesota Wild this offseason, where he will compete for top-six minutes on the Iowa Wild. Colin Theisen has the best chance to make the NHL out of anyone in this group, especially if he can build off his AHL stat line of 11 points in 18 games during his brief stint in 2021-22.

Group 6: The U23 Prospects

Max Ellis and Graham Slaggert (TOR), Spencer Stastney (NSH)

The last group is full of recent departures whose futures are unknown given their youth. Max Ellis, age 22, scored 16 goals in 39 games for the Irish during last year’s successful season before agreeing to terms with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This year will be a big one for Ellis, who will look to take another leap forward in his development. Graham Slaggert, best known for his overtime goal scored against North Dakota in the NCAA Tournament, a game in which he had two points, will play for the Toronto Marlies in 2022-23. Defenseman Spencer Stastney is coming off a very solid season at Notre Dame as a two-way player, defined by his 27 points and +18 rating. He is on track to suit up for the Milwaukee Admirals this year, Nashville’s minor league affiliate.

Contact Charlie at cmorri27@nd.edu.

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Sports

Here comes JP Joubert

Often heard but rarely seen, John-Paul Joubert (or, as he prefers, JP) impacts every single fan’s experience at the Compton Family Ice Arena. And, if the name does not sound familiar, perhaps you would know him if you heard him say his iconic, “HERE. COME. THE IRISH!” Or, you might recognize his reminder: “One minute remaining in the period.” 

The in-stadium announcer has held his post for 10 years, dating back to the 2013-2014 season. And on Oct. 16, he will have announced 200 games for the Irish.

For as much as Joubert has become a part of the fabric of the Notre Dame Hockey experience, Irish Hockey impacted Joubert before he could even skate. A South Bend native, Joubert first learned how to play hockey in the old Notre Dame Joyce Center Arena. He learned to skate in the Joyce at 18 months old before playing his first game at 3-years-old as a member of the Irish Youth Hockey League (IYHL). 

In fact, Joubert’s first time making an in-game announcement happened at a youth game at the tender age of 7 in the arena.

“I had been doing games from the time I was seven years old. My dad would bring me to the rink and let me sit in the penalty box. Everything was done pretty much by hand over there. But I actually announced my first game, it was actually kind of a mistake.” 

Joubert’s father stepped away from the penalty box while running a youth hockey tournament. Two penalties occurred, so Joubert grabbed the microphone and made the call. 

“My dad comes all the way from the other side of the area and is just screaming, ‘I told you not to touch anything.’ But, one of the kids from one of the teams said, ‘No, that was really good for someone so little.’” 

Joubert may not have known it then, but it was just the first of hundreds of calls in an Irish hockey arena. 

After that, he continued to play IYHL hockey before playing for the Saint Joseph High School team for all four years of his high school career. And while Joubert did not play hockey in college, he stuck around the game. 

As a freshman at Lake Superior State University, Joubert assisted a U-11 team as a goalie coach. He then progressed to coaching the women’s club team. When he graduated, he returned home and continued coaching, both in the IYHL and at his alma mater, Saint Joseph. 

In total, Joubert coached hockey for 25 years. 

While Joubert began to build a coaching resume, he slowly worked on his announcing career. After his first controversial (at least to his father) call at seven, Joubert began to call high school hockey games. 

“As I got older, I got to do high school games, eventually city championships and state championships. The IYHL was not only my upbringing as a player, but it was my upbringing as an announcer.” 

As Joubert began to progress as an announcer, he began to get noticed by some Notre Dame staff.

“Molly [Mahoney, the Compton Arena programming and events program coordinator] had mentioned to me that there might be an opening eventually for a couple of games to be a substitute.” 

Joubert was brought to a game as a trial run against Minnesota Duluth.

“They were getting ready to play Minnesota Duluth. I think it was that year. They gave me a pregame script from the Minnesota Duluth game, and unbeknownst to me at the time, they had people all over the arena hiding out, and apparently, they gave [Notre Dame] a good enough review.” 

Joubert worked as a backup for a few games in November of 2012, covering the games against his alma mater Lake Superior State. 

The hardest part of the job is pronunciation, according to Joubert, and something he strives to get right every single time. 

“You may only get one chance to say a kid’s name. And you want to get it right. Because you don’t know if their family is in the stands.”

As he sits from his usual spot in the media box, Joubert looks over the ice, reflecting on his career. If you were to tell his 7-year-old self, the one who unknowingly set himself down this path, what his job has become, he would be in total awe.

“Seven-year-old me would say, ‘You have the greatest job at the greatest school to work for, in my opinion of one of the greatest college coaches that has ever coached. You get to watch great hockey. It’s the students, it’s the band, it’s great college hockey,’” Joubert said. “When you work in a place like Notre Dame, like Compton, and this place is packed, that energy pushes you to be the absolute greatest you can possibly be.”  

Joubert has seen a lot of Irish hockey during his time as the in-stadium announcer. During his time, he has kept a record of how the team has performed in games he has called, and the Irish have a record of 113-68-16, 197 games in total. 

Game 198 was against the USA Hockey National Development Program team Oct. 2. Game 199 will be this weekend against Northern Michigan on Oct. 14, and the significant milestone, Game 200, will follow on Oct. 16. 

Though Joubert has had an incredibly long and successful announcing career, all he is, is grateful.

“Seeing where I started to now, it’s just been an absolutely incredible ride. In my opinion, it is more about the people that have helped me get where I am than the job that I do. I am not here without the help, the love, the faith, the constant positive energy that people who number in the thousands have given me.”

Contact Tom Zwiller at tzwiller@hcc-nd.edu

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Sports

‘We know we belong’: Leivermann confident in team ahead of regular season

Graduate student defender Nick Leivermann is prepared to lead the eighth-ranked Irish this season starting this Friday against Denver.

Leivermann has been an integral part of the Irish defense over the course of the last few seasons, and last season he recorded a team-leading 21 assists. 

Although Leivermann and the Irish lost to the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) U18 team in Sunday’s exhibition, he is confident in his team ahead of the start to the regular season.

“We feel really good heading into the season. We obviously don’t want to pay too much attention to the preseason rankings, but we know we belong probably in the top-five based on our year last year, and what we brought in this year, so we are excited,” Leivermann said.

Leivermann felt that Sunday’s game was a good opportunity to improve as a team and get some real game experience.

“It’s always good to get this game in early.” Leivermann said, “I think that’s why our coaches want to do it so that we can work some stuff out early.”

Leivermann was disappointed with the loss on Sunday night, but he thought Sunday was a great opportunity to get younger players some much needed playing time.

“Obviously you want to win that game, and losing to that team two years in a row is never fun,” Leivermann said. “Winning is the number one goal, but it’s also about getting new guys in and getting a feeling for what our team is going to be this year.”

The Irish are typically a defensive oriented team, but Leivermann was encouraged by the team’s movement of the puck on the offensive end on Sunday night.

“We moved the puck really well in the offensive zone, which is good to see. We are a team that is always trying to better ourselves on that end of the ice because normally we are more of a defensive type team.” Leivermann said.

Despite the positives from Sunday, the Irish surrendered some costly penalties that ultimately lost them the game. 

Leivermann felt that the Irish gave the U18 team too much space and time during their power plays on Sunday. 

“We just really weren’t intense enough tonight, and giving some of those skilled players too much time and space, that’s going to come and bite you,” Leivermann said.

Leivermann stressed the importance of taking less penalties in the future, and he knows that his team will improve on the penalty kill as the year goes on.

“The number one goal is obviously not to take penalties at all, and that’s going to benefit us a lot,” Leivermann said. “[Head] coach [Jeff Jackson] has always been really dialed in on the penalty kill and that’s why we had the best PK in the country last year. So, it’s just taking some tidbits of what we did last year, but you also have to change things because we have new personnel on the backhand.”

Leivermann is the sole captain on the team this year, and he has enjoyed being a mentor to his younger teammates.

“Being a fifth year, you are a little bit older, and it has been fun taking in some of those younger guys like [freshman defenseman Michael] Mastrodomenico and [freshman forward] Fin Williams. They’re really good kids,” Leivermann said. “It’s obviously not just me; our leadership stems from our juniors, seniors and four or five grads, and everyone of those guys can be a leader and a captain on the team.”

Mastrodomenico and Williams are joined by two other freshmen in forward Niko Jovanovic and goaltender Jack Williams, and Leivermann feels like all four have made great strides so far.

“It’s obviously a little bit difficult being a freshman in college hockey, but they’re finding their way and I think all four have improved on a day-to-day basis,” Leivermann said.

Jackson is confident in Leivermann and the rest of the leaders on his team ahead of the season.

“I like our leadership group.” Jackson said, “There was some adversity coming into today’s game. For the most part, I thought we handled it pretty well. I have to rely on them in the locker room because I am not always in there.”

Leivermann believes the Irish have grown significantly as a team since the summer.

“We have grown quite a bit,” Leivermann said. “We have obviously been together now since early June. Just as a group, we are really tight knit and we have really good leadership.”

Contact Nate Moller at nmoller2@nd.edu.