WHO: No. 18 Penn State Nittany Lions (18-12-2, 10-11-1-1 Big Ten) vs. No. 17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17-12-3, 10-10-2-2 Big Ten)
WHERE: Lefty Smith Rink at Compton Family Ice Arena (5,022), South Bend.
WHEN: Friday and Saturday at 7 EST.
TV: Friday, NBCSN; Saturday, NBC Sports Chicago+, CSN Mid-Atlantic and SNY.
STREAMING: NBCSports.com and NBCSportsApp.
RADIO: WZOC-FM (94.3) and UND.com.
REMINDER: Friday night fans attending can drop off expired or unneeded pills at table near main entrance as part of the 525 Foundation’s Drop 2 Stop program that raises awareness about opioid misuse.
RACE FOR HOME ICE: Ohio State (43 points) has clinched Big Ten regular-season title and first-round conference tournament (March 8-10) bye. … Second-place Minnesota (36) has concluded its Big Ten schedule. … Notre Dame (34), Michigan (34), Penn State (32) and Wisconsin (28) each have chance to finish second through fourth in the standings and be a first-round playoff host. … With regulation victory Friday, Irish clinch home-ice for first round. … Penn State gets home ice with four points against Irish or two points and Wisconsin sweep of Michigan.
RANKINGS: Notre Dame 17th and Penn State tied for 18th in Pairwise rankings that mimic those used by NCAA Selection Committee to choose 16 teams for tournament that begins Thursday, March 28.
RIVALRY: Teams met at Pegula Ice Arena in University Park back in December — Notre Dame won 5-4 on Dec. 7 for seventh straight victory but Penn State won 9-1 the next night. … Irish are 6-3-2 since Nittany Lions moved to NCAA Division I and went 4-0-1 last season.
RESUMES: Sophomore forwards Alex Limoges (16-24-40) and Evan Barratt (15-22-37) are fourth and 11th nationally in scoring for Nittany Lions, who average national-best 4.69 goals per game and are 10th in scoring margin (+0.97) thanks to national-best 40.7 shots per game and fourth-best power-play unit (26.0 percent). … Jack Jenkins and fellow forward Dylan Malmquist, defenseman Bobby Nardella and injured forward Joe Wegwerth will be saluted on Senior Night Saturday. … Nardella (7-22-29) paces Irish in scoring with Malmquist second (10-17-27). … Freshman forward Michael Graham has national-best 10 goals since Jan. 18. … Against Penn State, junior Cale Morris is 5-1-1 with 2.87 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. … Irish are least penalized team among Division I’s 60 schools at 7.3 minutes per game.
QUOTING JACKSON: “Penn State plays like no team in the country, really. They transition extremely well. They have a lot of players with good puck skills and good instincts. They are one of the hardest teams in the country to play against. No lead is safe against them — they keep coming at you.”
(Medically speaking) “Team is (healthy), yeah.” (The coach?) “My gut is churning all the time. Other than that, I’m fine.”
– John Fineran, Tribune Correspondent