Notre Dame hockey preview capsule
WHO: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-4-0 overall, 3-3-0-0-0-0 Big Ten) vs. Michigan State Spartans (2-3-1, 1-3-0-1-0-0 Big Ten)
WHERE: Lefty Smith Rink at Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend.
WHEN: Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
TV: Saturday NBCSN and NBCSports.com, Sunday NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBCSports.com.
RADIO: WZOC-FM (94.3) and UND.com.
RANKINGS: Coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish are No. 16 in USCHO.com (media) poll and receiving votes in USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine (coaches) poll. … Coach Danton Cole’s Spartans are receiving votes in USCHO.com poll.
RECAPS: Notre Dame is coming off home weekend split with Ohio State, winning Saturday 3-0 and losing Sunday 3-2. … Michigan State has not played since Dec. 3-4 when it was swept at Munn Ice Arena by now No. 1 Minnesota, 3-1 and 4-2. A home series Dec. 8-9 was postponed because of COVID-19 issues on Wisconsin.
RIVALRY: The teams have played 127 previous times with Michigan State holding a 68-45-14 edge, though Notre Dame is 29-24-9 in South Bend. … Last season Spartans were 2-0-2 against Irish after Irish went 5-0-1 in six games during previous season. … Jackson played goalie at Michigan State for late coach Ron Mason and earned two degrees in 1978 and ’79. … Cole and MSU assistant Chris Luongo played junior hockey under Jackson.
SHAVINGS: Junior left wing Alex Steeves paces Irish in scoring (4-4-8) followed by junior center Graham Slaggert (2-4-6), junior defenseman Nick Leivermann (2-4-6) and junior defenseman Nate Clurman (3-2-5). … Senior Dylan St. Cyr, who recorded 3-0 shutout vs. Ohio State, and sophomore Ryan Bischel, splitting goaltending chores. … Irish have just two power-play goals in 16 attempts. … Grad transfer (Bemidji State) left wing Charlie Combs (2-3-5) leads MSU in scoring followed by freshman left wing Kyle Haskins (1-3-4) and senior right wing Mitchell Lewandowski (1-2-3). … Junior Dennis Cesana (1-1-2) anchors defense in front of junior goalie Drew DeRidder (1.98 average, .931 saves percentage, 2-0 shutout of Arizona State). … Spartans’ power-play unit is just 2 of 21, but MSU averages 35.5 shots per game.
QUOTING JACKSON: (Last weekend) “I thought we played four maybe five good periods against Ohio State. We showed signs of what we could be, especially in the first period on Sunday. We played a sound game on Saturday.” (Penalties) “We’re a team that has prided ourselves in being a minimal penalized team. Right now we’re sitting close to nine-ten minutes a game where in the past we’ve been under six minutes a game. We have to get back to that level of discipline.” (This weekend) “Lewandowski is a good offensive player, and they have a couple of high-energy lines. They are extremely good on faceoffs. (Cesana) is a talented offensive defenseman. They gave Minnesota everything they could handle.”
— John Fineran, Tribune Correspondent