No. 1 Notre Dame (19-4-1 overall, 13-1-0 B1G) vs. No. 13/14 Minnesota (15-12-1 overall, 6-9-1-1 B1G)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018
Location: 3M Arena at Mariucci | Minneapolis, Minn.
Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: FOX Sports North PLUS
Stream: BTN2Go | FOX Sports Go | TSNGo
Radio: 1130 KTLK AM | 103.5 FM
INSIDE THE MATCHUP
The Gophers will have their work cut out for them this weekend as they welcome No. 1 Notre Dame to Mariucci Arena. The Irish are an incredible 13-1-0 in the Big Ten, suffering their first conference loss of the season to Wisconsin last weekend.
The improbable season has Notre Dame running away with the Big Ten title in their first season. With just 10 games left in the year, the Irish hold a 39-25 point advantage over second place Ohio State.
These two teams met earlier this year in South Bend with Notre Dame earning the sweep 1-0 and 5-2. Despite the sweep, Minnesota still owns a 27-18-3 all-time advantage in the series with a 17-8-2 mark at home.
Surprisingly, playing on the road might actually be good news for Notre Dame. The Irish are a perfect 9-0-0 in true road games this year, the only team in the country without a road loss.
Notre Dame is led by captain Jake Evans. The senior has 29 points in 21 games and leads the team at +15.
The Minnesota offense hasn’t been great this year, and it doesn’t get any easier this weekend. They’ll have the unfortunate position of playing against goalie Cale Morris who leads the nation with a .950 save percentage to go with 18 wins.
John Fineran of ND Insider takes a nice look at the series through the eyes of the Irish. In the story, Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson mentions that Mariucci is the toughest Big Ten building to visit.
Likewise, One Foot Down’s Michael Ivey previews the series and even makes a prediction: Irish take Friday night and Minnesota responds with a victory on Saturday.
Locally, Randy Johnson of the Strib has the latest from inside the Gopher locker room. An interesting note, Minnesota forward Brent Gates was a one-time Irish commit before flipping to Minnesota. He’s coming off a strong performance last week where he potted four points, earning a Big Ten weekly honor.
On what to expect from Notre Dame since the last matchup:
“They’ve lost one game since then, so obviously they feel pretty good about that. I don’t know what to expect, either they’re going to be real ornery because they lost the first one in 17 or maybe they’re going to feel a little bit vulnerable, right now. Who knows?
“It still comes down to how we play. We were really happy with how we played when we went there over Thanksgiving weekend. On Friday night, I think we outshot them 45-23, out-chanced them significantly, and ran into a real hot goalie. That happens. You have to give them credit, when you have the best save percentage in college hockey, at 95%, you’re going to win a lot of games. They score well, enough to win. They defend like crazy. They’re power play and penalty kill are right up there. Fourth best team in college hockey in faceoffs so we have a tall order in front of us. Hopefully we learned that it’s going to take four lines, six defensemen, and great goaltending for us to have a chance.”
On what they can learn from the last series against Notre Dame:
“It’s going to be more than just getting shots on net. We have to get in the paint; finishes on those shots, those rebounds. We have to play well defensively. If it’s a 2-1 game or a 5-4 game, I don’t think that it matters to me, I just want to get those W’s.”
Brent Gates Jr.
On being successful at home:
“Obviously it helps having our fans and our energy in the building. We love all the fans that come out and it’s a little extra energy for us coming out of the gates. We just have to use that and use the big ice, the familiarity with the rink, and just come out and start the game well."
Tag(s): Gopher Football