Everything you need to know about Notre Dame hockey's weekend series vs. Western Michigan

John Fineran
Correspondent
Notre Dame players celebrate victory at center ice after the Wisconsin-Notre Dame Big Ten hockey tournament game on Sunday, March 06, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Who: Western Michigan Broncos (4-1-0) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-1-1)

When/Where: Friday 7 p.m. at Lefty Smith Rink (4,850) in Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend and Saturday 6 p.m. at Lawson Ice Arena (3,667), Kalamazoo.

Radio: WZOC-FM (94.3) and UND.com

TV/Streaming: Peacock Friday and NCHC.tv Saturday

Coaches: Notre Dame, Jeff Jackson (378-232-67 in 18th season at Notre Dame and 560-284-92 in 24th season overall). … Western Michigan, Pat Ferschweiler (30-13-1 in second season at Western and overall).

Recap: Notre Dame swept home series with Northern Michigan, winning 3-1 Friday and 5-4 Sunday. … Western Michigan swept Bowling Green, 4-1 Thursday at home and 8-2 Friday on road.

Rivalry: These will be 93rd and 94th meetings with Western Michigan leading series 43-38-12. … Series began with 9-5 Western Michigan victory in Joyce Center Jan. 18, 1978. … Teams last met during 2019-20 season, skating to 1-1 tie Jan. 3 in South Bend before Irish 4-1 win in Kalamazoo Jan. 5. … Notre Dame is 3-0-2 in last five games.

Rankings: In USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine coaches’ poll, Notre Dame is No. 12 and Western Michigan No. 17. … In DCU/USCHO.com media poll, Notre Dame is No. 13 and Western Michigan No. 17.

Scouting Western Michigan Broncos

Coming off 26-12-1 campaign which saw them ranked No. 6 in final polls, Broncos were ranked No. 14 coming into season but suffered season-opening 3-1 setback at Alaska Anchorage before winning last four games. … Western enters series ranked No. 3 with 4.60 goals per game and has nation’s third-best power play converting at 37.5 percent (6 of 16). … Three Broncos won NCHC weekly honors after last weekend’s sweep of Bowling Green. … Senior Zak Galambos (3-1-4), a transfer from American International, scored twice in Saturday victory and had +7 plus/minus ratio to earn top defenseman honors. … Sophomore Max Sasson (3-3-6) had two goals in Saturday victory and was named top forward of the week. … Forward Ryan McAllister (3-5-8) had a five-point weekend to earn top freshman honors. … Junior goaltender Cameron Rowe (2.01 goals-against average, .901 saves percentage) picked up both victories.

Scouting Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame’s penalty-kill units made considerable improvement after giving up five power-play goals in eight attempts during Ice Breaker 5-2 loss at Denver and 5-5 tie at Air Force. … Northern Michigan managed just one power-play goal in 10 attempts. … Irish power play, meanwhile, was 3-for-9 with junior defenseman Drew Bavaro, a transfer from Bentley, scoring go-ahead goal in Sunday’s 5-4 victory. … Bavaro (1-4-5) added two assists in sweep and earned Big Ten Second Star of Week honors. … Junior right wing Ryder Rolston (3-3-6) leads Irish in scoring followed by Bavaro and senior forwards Trevor Janicke (2-2-4) and Solag Bakich (2-2-4). … Sophomore defenseman Jake Boltmann had 14 blocked shots last weekend, including eight on Sunday, to earn Everything College Hockey’s “Sponge of the Week” award. … Jackson indicated there’s a chance grad defenseman and captain Nick Leivermann will see his first action of the season after sitting out the first four games with an undisclosed injury. … Senior goaltender Ryan Bischel picked up both victories and saw his goals-against average fall to 3.43 and his saves percentage rise to .886.

Quoting Irish coach Jeff Jackson

“(Western Michigan) may be the toughest opponent we face in the early part of the season. Offensively, they look very deep both from the back end and upfront. I know we’re going to have our hands full offensively. Their defensemen are very active in the offensive zone, they have a lot of motion going on in the O(ffensive) Zone. They are good in transition and their power-play is clicking as well. They are a pretty uptempo team.”

John Fineran, Correspondent