Big Ten hockey tournament starts Sunday at Notre Dame. Here's what you need to know

Staff reports
ND Insider


WHEN: Sunday through Tuesday

WHERE: Lefty Smith Rink at Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend, Indiana

TV: Big Ten Network. Radio: WZOC-FM (94.3) and for Notre Dame games.

RANKINGS: (Media poll/Coaches poll) Wisconsin (5/4), Minnesota (4/5), Michigan (6/7), Notre Dame (19/receiving votes)

SEEDINGS: (Determined by winning percentage of league games) 1. Wisconsin (17-6-1 .729), 2. Minnesota (16-6-0 .727), 3. Michigan (11-9-0 .550), 4. Notre Dame (12-10-2 .542), 5. Penn State (7-11-0 .389), 6. Ohio State (6-16-0 .273), 7. Michigan State (5-16-1 .250)


(5) Penn State (9-11-0 overall) vs. (4) Notre Dame (14-12-2), noon.

AT STAKE: Berth in Monday’s first semifinal at 4:30 p.m. against No. 1-seeded Wisconsin (19-8-1).

SEASON SERIES: After losing 2-1 in overtime Jan. 28 in University Park, Pennsylvania, Irish rebounded next night with 3-2 overtime victory and then swept Nittany Lions last weekend at Notre Dame, 5-2 and 7-1, to finish 3-1.

SCOUTING NITTANY LIONS: Guy Gadowsky’s team missed eight February games because of COVID-19 issues. … This will be fifth straight game against Notre Dame. … Senior left wing Alex Limoges (9-8-17), sophomore right wing Kevin Wall (8-9-17) and senior center Tim Doherty (5-10-15) lead scorers. … Freshman Jimmy Dowd Jr. (2-7-9) anchors defense in front of junior goalie Oskar Autio (3.11 average, .891 saves percentage, 1 shutout).

SCOUTING FIGHTING IRISH: Notre Dame won the last two Big Ten Tournament championships contested in 2018 and 2019, both at Compton. … Jeff Jackson’s team 4-1-1 in last six, tying at Wisconsin 5-5 Feb. 20 and then sweeping at Michigan State 2-0 and 2-0 Feb. 26-27 before home sweep of Nittany Lions. … Junior right wing Alex Steeves (15-16-31), junior center Graham Slaggert (7-18-25), freshman left wing Landon Slaggert (8-13-21), sophomore right wing Max Ellis (5-10-15) and senior left wing Colin Theisen (7-6-13) lead forwards. … Juniors Nick Leivermann (5-12-17), Spencer Stastney (5-7-12) and Nate Clurman (4-3-7) anchor defense in front of senior goalie Dylan St. Cyr (2.30 average, .925 saves percentage, 3 shutouts).

(7) Michigan State (7-17-2) vs. (2) Minnesota (20-6-0), 4 p.m.

AT STAKE: Berth in Monday’s 8:30 semifinal against Ohio State-Michigan winner.

SEASON SERIES: Minnesota swept four games from Michigan State, winning 3-1 and 4-2 at Michigan State Dec. 3-4 and then 4-2 and 5-1 at home Feb. 19-20.

SCOUTING SPARTANS: Danton Cole’s team 0-6 after losing series at Minnesota and then two home series with Notre Dame Feb. 26-27 (2-0, 2-0) and Wisconsin March 5-6 (4-0, 2-1). … Senior right wing Mitchell Lewandowski (6-6-12), sophomore right wing Josh Nodler (3-8-11), senior left wing Charlie Combs (6-3-9) and senior center Tommy Apap (5-4-9) lead forwards. … Junior Dennis Cesana (1-10-11) anchors defense and junior goalie Drew DeRidder has 2.76 average, .923 saves percentage and 2 shutouts.

SCOUTING GOLDEN GOPHERS: Bob Motzko’s team 5-1 in last six, sweeping Notre Dame 3-0, 3-0 in South Bend Feb. 12-13, sweeping Michigan State and then splitting home series with Michigan last weekend, winning 4-2 after losing 5-2. … Senior goalie Jack LaFontaine posted 1.68 average and five shutouts (two at Notre Dame) with .935 saves percentage. … Junior left wing Sampo Ranta (16-10-26), junior center Sammy Walker (12-13-25), sophomore center Ben Meyers (11-14-25) and senior right wing Scott Reedy (9-15-24) lead forwards while sophomores Jackson LaCombe (4-14-18) and Ryan Johnson (1-9-10) lead defense.

(6) Ohio State (7-18-1) vs. (3) Michigan (14-9-1), 8:30 p.m.

AT STAKE: Berth in Monday’s 8:30 semifinal against Michigan State-Minnesota winner.

SEASON SERIES: Michigan beat Buckeyes 4-2 and 5-0 in Ann Arbor Jan. 15-16 and then split series in Columbus, losing 3-2 Feb. 19 and winning 6-0 Feb. 20.

SCOUTING BUCKEYES: Steve Rohlik’s Buckeyes 2-4 in last six games, splitting non-conference series with Arizona State, winning 8-3 Thursday before losing 5-0 Friday. … Freshman right wing Travis Treloar (8-12-20), sophomore left wing Mark Cheremeta (5-14-19) and junior right wing Quinn Preston (6-7-13) lead forwards, while senior Grant Gabriele (3-10-13) anchors defense in front of senior goalie Tommy Nappier (3.29 average, .905 saves percentage).

SCOUTING WOLVERINES: Mel Pearson’s team 3-2-1 in last six games, splitting series at Minnesota last weekend, winning 5-2 Friday and losing 4-2 Saturday. … Wolverines led on defense by sophomore Cam York (3-15-18) and freshman Owen Power (3-13-16). … Freshmen center Thomas Bordeleau (8-21-29), left wing Kent Johnson (8-17-25), center Matty Beniers (10-13-23) and left wing Brendan Brisson (8-11-19) lead offense. … Junior goalie Strauss Mann has 1.95 average and 4 shutouts with .927 saves percentage.


Penn State-Notre Dame winner vs. (1) Wisconsin (19-8-1), 4:30 p.m.

SCOUTING BADGERS: Tony Granato’s team is 5-0-1 in last six games, winning four games since 5-5 tie with Notre Dame Feb. 20 by sweeping Ohio State 2-1 and 7-0 and then sweeping Michigan State on road 4-0 and 2-1. … Sophomore right wing Cole Caufield (25-21-46) leads nation in scoring, while senior left wing Linus Weissbach (11-27-38), sophomore center Dylan Holloway (11-23-34) and senior center Ty Pelton-Byce (12-16-28) provide explosive offense. … Junior Ty Emberson (3-7-10) and senior Tyler Inamoto (1-8-9) anchor defense. … Senior Robbie Beydoun (2.58 average, .919 saves percentage and 3 shutouts) and freshman Cameron Rowe (1.71 average, .943 percentage, 2 shutouts, 9-1-1 record) have split goaltending duties.

Michigan State-Minnesota winner vs. Ohio State-Michigan winner, 8:30 p.m.


Monday’s semifinal winners, 8 p.m.: Winner earns Big Ten hockey title and conference’s automatic bid to NCAA Tournament when field is set Sunday, March 21.

— John Fineran, Tribune Correspondent

Michigan and Notre Dame battle in this Jan. 21 file photo. Notre Dame will host the Big Ten Hockey Tournament starting Sunday with a champion to be crowned Tuesday.