Hockey: All you need to know about Notre Dame's weekend series vs. Michigan State

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent
Notre Dame's Ryder Rolston (12) looks to pass during the Notre Dame vs. RIT NCAA hockey game Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend. Notre Dame will host Michigan State Friday and Saturday at the Compton Family Ice Arena.


Who: Notre Dame (11-4 overall, 5-3-0 Big Ten for 13 points) vs. Michigan State (9-6-1 overall, 4-4-0 Big Ten for 12 points)

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.

Where: Lefty Smith Rink in Compton Family Ice Arena (5,022), South Bend.

Radio: WZOC-FM (94.3) and TV: NBCSN. Streaming:, NBC Sports app.

Tickets: Mobile single-game tickets and plans available through … Face masks must be worn in Compton except when eating and drinking.

► Polls:  Notre Dame holds at No. 8

► More:Hockey: No. 8 Irish bounce back with convincing 5-1 hockey victory over Buckeyes

Recaps: Coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish are coming off weekend split at home against Ohio State, losing 4-2 Friday before winning Saturday 5-1. … Coach Danton Cole’s Spartans split a weekend series at Penn State, losing 4-2 Friday and winning 4-3 Saturday.

Rankings: Notre Dame remained No. 8 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine (coaches) and (media) polls. … Michigan State is receiving votes in poll.

Rivalry: Michigan State leads series 69-47-15 but Notre Dame leads in games played in South Bend 29-25-10. … Series began with Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory for coach Benjamin DuBois in East Lansing on Jan. 15, 1927. … Last season, Notre Dame and Michigan State played four times. … In the series in South Bend, the teams played to a 1-1 tie on Dec. 19 before the Spartans won 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 20. … Then on Feb. 26-27 in East Lansing, the Irish won back-to-back 2-0 shutouts. … Jackson, who played goalie at Michigan State and earned two degrees there in 1978 and 1979, is 22-11-7 against his alma mater in his previous 16 seasons at Notre Dame and 33-19-12 against MSU including his time at Lake Superior State. … Jackson coached Cole and current MSU assistant Chris Luongo during their junior days with the Detroit Falcons and also coached Cole during the 1983-84 season with the Fraser Flags of the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League. … Since Cole’s debut season in 2017-18, the Irish are 10-4-4 against the Spartans.

Scouting Irish: Since losing twice at Minnesota during their opening Big Ten series Oct. 29-30, Irish have won seven of last eight games. … Sophomore right wing Ryder Rolston was named the Big Ten’s Second Star of the Week after recording a goal and an assist in each game last weekend. … Rolston, who has three game-winning goals, is second leading scorer (6-10-16) on team behind junior right wing Max Ellis (11-9-20). … Senior defenseman Nick Leivermann (4-9-13) is third in scoring ahead of junior center Solag Bakich (3-8-11). … Senior center Graham Slaggert, sophomore left wing Landon Slaggert and junior right wing Trevor Janicke, who make up one line, each have five goals this season. … In addition to Leivermann, top defenders include grad-transfer (Connecticut) Adam Karashik (0-9-9), freshman Jake Boltmann (1-7-8) and senior Spencer Stastney (0-7-7). … Grad-transfer (Cornell) goalie Matthew Galajda is 7-2 with a 1.68 goals-against average and .932 saves percentage with two shutouts and shares duties with junior Ryan Bischel, who is 4-2 with 2.26 average and .916 saves percentage. … Bakich (illness) and senior Jake Pivonka (Achilles surgery) could return from medical list. … Alex Steeves, who led Irish last season in scoring with 32 points (team-high 15 goals), became the 25th player from the Jackson Era to make his NHL debut, skating for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-4 victory Tuesday over Columbus. … NCAA team statistics (59 schools ranked): Scoring offense, 3.67 goals per game (8th nationally); scoring defense, 2.00 (5th); scoring margin, 1.67 (6th); faceoff-wins percentage, 0.523 (453-413) (18th); power-plays percentage, 0.192 (10 of 52) (29th); penalty-kill percentage, 0.915 (54 of 59) (2nd); penalty minutes per game, 10.47 (37th). 

Scouting Spartans: After scoring just 40 goals (five on power play) and totaling 111 points in 27 games last season, Spartans have 41 goals (12 PPG) and 119 points in 16 games this season. … Three transfers have been difference-makers: Griffin Loughran (Northern Michigan), Jeremy Davidson (Massachusetts) and Erik Middendorf (Colorado College). … Right wing Loughran (3-6-9) and left wing Middendorf (5-4-9; four game-winning goals) are centered by junior Josh Nodler (4-7-11). … Leading scorer senior left wing Mitchell Lewandowski (6-11-17) is on another line with sophomore right wing Davidson (8-5-13) and freshman center Jesse Tucker (1-7-8). … Spartans have 10 goals from defensemen led by senior Dennis Cesana (4-4-8) and senior Cole Krygier (3-3-6) whose fraternal twin brother Christian (1-5-6) is paired with Cesana. … Senior goalie Drew DeRidder has 6-4-1 record, 2.17 goals-against average and .941 saves percentage. … But it was sophomore goalie Pierce Charleson who made a career-best 50 saves (20 in third period) during MSU’s 4-3 victory at Penn State to earn Big Ten Third Star of the Week honors. … NCAA team statistics: Scoring offense, 2.56 goals per game (37th); scoring defense, 2.62 (22nd); scoring margin, -0.06 (30th); faceoff-wins percentage, 0.495 (507-517) (34th); power-plays percentage, 0.240 (12 of 50) (16th); penalty-kill percentage, 0.817 (49 of 60) (30th); penalty minutes per game, 12.62 (17th).

Quoting Jeff Jackson on … 

… Spartans: “They have good offensive defensemen, obviously. But you have to make plays. They are improved with their depth upfront. If you have guys who can make plays and have defensemen who have the instincts, then they become more of a threat. That’s why they’ve had success – with their defensemen being a part of the offense. … Their scoring depth is better, their defensive depth is better, and their goaltending is better. They’ve had a lot of success the first half. Dan has done a great job rebuilding the program.”

… Irish: “The first obstacle is final exams. We have (some) final exams this Friday, so that creates a little bit of a challenge for us. … It was disappointing we had to have a response game (5-1 victory) last Saturday (after Friday’s 4-2 loss). I thought we played well Saturday in pretty much every facet of our game. I think a little bit of the challenge for us right now is to find consistency from night to night. Saturday was another indication how good we can be.”

– John Fineran, Tribune Correspondent



Pts, GP, W-L-T, OW-OL, SW, GF-GA

Michigan 20, 10, 6-4-0, 0-2, 0, 39-26

Minnesota 19, 10, 6-4-0, 0-1, 0, 33-26

Ohio State 15, 8, 5-3-0, 0-0, 0, 24-18

Notre Dame 13, 8, 5-3-0, 2-0, 0, 26-19

Michigan State 12, 8, 4-4-0, 0-0, 0, 21-27

Penn State 6, 8, 2-6-0, 0-0, 0, 20-33

Wisconsin 5, 8, 2-6-0, 1-0, 0, 14-28

(Overall, W-L-T, .Pct, GF-GA)

Michigan 13-5-0, .722, 75-43; Minnesota 10-8-0, .556, 61-49; Ohio State 9-5-0, .643, 46-31; Notre Dame 11-4-0, .733, 55-30; Michigan State 9-6-1, .594, 41-42; Penn State 10-7-0, .588, 59-50; Wisconsin 4-11-1, .281, 25-52.

Friday, Dec. 10 schedule

Michigan State at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.

Michigan at Ohio State, 7 p.m.

Penn State at Wisconsin, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 11 schedule

Michigan State at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.

Michigan at Ohio State, 8 p.m.

Penn State at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 16 schedule

Bowling Green at Ohio State, 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 17 schedule

Ohio State at Bowling Green, 7 p.m.