It’s a battle of the Crossed ND’s this weekend as North Dakota heads to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is fresh off a rare road sweep of Michigan (3-1, 4-1), while UND had a home battle with Minnesota-Duluth last weekend, taking three points from a series that probably should have gone to the Bulldogs.
Notre Dame was a member of the WCHA from 1971-1981, posting three winning seasons in ten campaigns. The Fighting Irish have had more success lately, winning the CCHA league title twice in the past six seasons. Jeff Jackson’s Golden Domers have already played five games this season against teams headed to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2013-14, splitting series with Minnesota-Duluth and Western Michigan and handing Nebraska-Omaha a 3-2 defeat in the championship game of the Icebreaker tournament.
The Fighting Irish have eight skaters and two goaltenders on their roster under six feet tall, including junior forward T.J. Tynan, who at 5’8” and 165 lbs. could be considered Rudy on skates. Tynan notched his 100th collegiate point last weekend against Michigan, joining UND’s Danny Kristo and Corban Knight as three of the nine active mens’ college hockey players with at least 100 points. Considering Tynan is just eleven games into his junior season (94 games total games played), that’s quite an accomplishment.
The two teams figure to make the NCAA field of 16, and this weekend’s games are critically important for pairwise comparisons and seeding in the tournament. North Dakota showed signs of weakness against Duluth, and will need to shore up their play in the defensive zone (breakouts, coverage, and penalty kill) if they hope to escape South Bend with points this weekend.
Notre Dame Team Profile
Head Coach: Jeff Jackson (8th season at Notre Dame, 168-100-30, .614)
National Ranking: #6
This Season: 8-3-0 overall, 5-1-0-0 CCHA (t-2nd)
Last Season: 19-18-3 overall, 12-13-3-0 CCHA (8th)
Team Offense: 2.82 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.64 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 12.2% (6 of 49)
Penalty Kill: 90.9 % (40 of 44)
Key Players: Junior F Anders Lee (5-4-9), Junior F Bryan Rust (3-5-8), Junior F T.J. Tynan (2-3-5), Sophomore D Robbie Russo (4-3-7), Junior D Stephen Johns (0-7-7), Junior G Steven Summerhays (7-3-0, 1.51 GAA, .939 SV%, 2 SO)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (9th season at UND, 218-109-32, .652)
National Ranking: #7
This Season: 5-3-2 overall, 3-1-2 WCHA (t-4th)
Last Season: 26-13-3 overall (NCAA West Regional Finalist), 16-11-1 WCHA (4th)
Team Offense: 3.20 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.40 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 15.4% (6 of 39)
Penalty Kill: 84.4% (27 of 32)
Key Players: Senior F Danny Kristo (4-8-12), Sophomore F Mark MacMillan (5-4-9), Freshman F Rocco Grimaldi (4-3-7), Junior D Derek Forbort (3-3-6), Freshman D Jordan Schmaltz (1-1-2), Junior G Clarke Saunders (3-2-2, 2.24 GAA, .927 SV%, 2 SO)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: November 27, 2010 (Grand Forks, ND). Sophomore blueliner Sam Calabrese scored the game tying goal with just over three minutes remaining and the Fighting Irish killed two UND power plays in overtime as the teams battled to a 2-2 tie. North Dakota took the series opener 6-3 behind Jason Gregoire’s three point effort (two goals, one assist).
Last Meeting in South Bend: January 17, 1981. The two teams skated to a 1-1 tie one night after UND throttled the Fighting Irish 7-3. The tie would snap North Dakota’s nine-game winning streak over Notre Dame, during which time the Green and White outscored the Golden Domers 58-29.
Last Ten: North Dakota has a 6-1-3 (.750) record over the past ten games.
Most Important Meeting: March 15, 1980. In WCHA playoff action, the Fighting Sioux dispatched with Notre Dame with a 7-4 victory after winning the opener 10-4. UND would go on to win its third national championship two weeks later.
All-time Series: The series is tied 16-16-3. The Fighting Irish won 15 of the first 20 meetings between the two teams, but UND has evened the ledger with an 11-1-3 mark over the past fifteen games. Notre Dame boasts a home record of 9-6-1 (.594) against North Dakota.
Game News and Notes
The Fighting Irish appeared in the national championship game in 2008, falling 4-1 to Boston College. Notre Dame ranks second in the NCAA in scoring defense (1.64 goals allowed per game). Three players on the ice this weekend have 100 career points: UND’s Danny Kristo (121) and Corban Knight (105) are joined in the Century Club by Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan, who notched his 100th collegiate point on November 15th against Michigan. The puck drops at 6:35 p.m. Central time on Friday and 4:05 p.m. Central time on Saturday. Free video webcasts are available at www.und.com.
I correctly predicted a three point weekend for North Dakota the last time around, but I don’t think it will go that well for UND in the rematch. Dave Hakstol’s best chance for points will come in Friday’s opener, with Notre Dame winning handily on Saturday night. UND 3-2, Notre Dame 4-1.