After a near two week break of no games due to the postponement of the Wisconsin series, the Michigan State hockey team will finally get back on the ice Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:00 p.m. as they travel to take on No. 16 Notre Dame.
Notre Dame (4-4) is coming off a split series with Ohio State last week. Their three other wins come against Michigan (2) and Arizona State.
The Fighting Irish bring in a high-scoring offense that has scored the eighth-most goals in the country at 21. Junior forward Alex Steeves leads the team in goals with four and is tied for the team lead in assists at four.
Through eight games, Notre Dame has mixed up who starts in net. Dylan St. Cyr and Ryan Bischel have split duties in net putting up nearly identical stats. It is quite possible that both goaltenders will see the ice this weekend.
Like the Spartans, Notre Dame has struggled to score on the power play. MSU has scored two goals on 21 chances (.095) while Notre Dame has scored two goals on 16 chances (.125).
With the long break in between games, Michigan State head coach Danton Cole and staff have had eight practices to be able to work on a wide range of skills, one of those being the power play.
“That’s just an area where we haven’t got a lot of reps and it’s different doing in games and in practice, but now with some real good games under our belt, the six games, at least we got a little bit of feel for the intensity and the pace that you have to play on both ends,” Cole said.
Both teams have had great success in the faceoff circle. Michigan State continues to lead the country in faceoff win percentage at 61 percent. Notre Dame is just a few spots behind them at 54 percent, which ranks ninth in the country.
Since Notre Dame joined the Big Ten in 2017, they have had the Spartans’ number. The Fighting Irish finished with a similar record to MSU last year, but Michigan State played particularly well against Notre Dame. In fact, in four games the Spartans did not lose a game to Notre Dame going 2-0-2.
Despite Notre Dame being ranked No. 16 in the USCHO Poll, the Spartans have a solid chance of perhaps returning to East Lansing with one or two wins on the road. Michigan State ranks at No. 18 on the Pairwise rankings while Notre Dame sits at No. 29.
On paper, MSU should have an advantage in between the pipes with Drew DeRidder. If Michigan State can show some improvement on the powerplay and turn some of their many shots on goal into actual goals, do not be surprised if they squeak out a win or maybe two.
Saturday’s game will be televised on NBC Sports and Sunday’s game will be televised on NBC Sports Chicago.
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