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

John Fineran
Correspondent
Notre Dame forward Ryder Rolston (12) skates with the puck as Michigan State defenseman Nash Nienhuis (4) back checks during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers 

When/Where: Friday and Saturday nights at 8 EST in 3M Arena at Mariucci (10,000), Minneapolis, Minn.

Radio: WZOC-FM (94.3) and UND.com

TV/Streaming: Big Ten+ Friday and Saturday

More:Ryan Bischel finally has spotlight as goaltender for No. 12 Irish hockey team

Coaches: Notre Dame, Jeff Jackson (380-233-68 in 18th season at Notre Dame and 562-285-93 in 24th season overall). … Minnesota, Bob Motzko (89-53-11 in fifth season at Minnesota and 365-245-60 in 18thseason overall).

Last weekend: Notre Dame won 5-0 Friday and tied 1-1 (losing shootout 2-1) Michigan State Saturday in South Bend. … Minnesota lost 6-4 Friday and won 4-2 Saturday at Ohio State.

Rivalry: Minnesota leads series 38-25-5 after winning three of four games from Notre Dame during the 2021-22 season. … The Golden Gophers won 4-1 and 3-2 Oct. 29-30 at Minneapolis and then won 5-1 before losing 3-2 (OT) Jan. 28-29 in South Bend. … The ice sheet at 3M Arena at Mariucci is Olympic size: 200 feet by 100 feet, 10 feet wider than the Lefty Smith Rink at Compton Family Ice Arena. … The Irish practiced on their Olympic-size ice sheet at Compton this week.

Rankings: Notre Dame remains No. 12 in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine coaches’ poll and DCU/USCHO.com media poll. … Minnesota fell from No. 1 to No. 3 in both polls this week. … In the PairWise Rankings which mimic those used to determine the 16-team field for the NCAA Tournament, Minnesota is No. 17 and Notre Dame No. 19.

Notre Dame players lineup for player introductions prior to the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Big Ten Standings

1. Ohio State 9 points, 3-1-0-0-0-0 (7-2-1 overall); 2. Penn State 6 points, 2-0-0-0-0-0 (8-0-0 overall); 3. Notre Dame 4 points, 1-0-1-0-0-0 (4-2-2 overall); 4. Minnesota 3 points, 1-1-0-0-0-0 (5-3-0 overall); 5. Michigan State 1 point, 0-1-1-1-0-0 (4-3-1 overall); 6. Michigan 0 points, 0-0-0-0-0-0 (7-1-0 overall); 7. Penn State 0 points, 0-4-0-0-0-0 (2-6-0 overall).

Scouting Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Senior goaltender Ryan Bischel, who hails from the Minneapolis western suburb of Medina and is one of seven Minnesota natives on the Irish roster, was named the Big Ten’s Third Star of the Week after recording his second shutout of the season (fourth in his career) in the 5-0 victory over Michigan State. … Bischel, whose goals-against average is now 2.12, allowed just one goal in the 72 shots he faced during 125 minutes against the Spartans and saw his saves percentage improve to .934. … Junior right wing Ryder Rolston (4-5-9) continues to pace Notre Dame in scoring by one point over grad center Chayse Primeau (2-6-8) and senior right wing Trevor Janicke (2-4-6). … Janicke and sophomore brother Justin are from Maple Grove. … The defense is led by grad captain Nick Leivermann (3-1-4) of Eden Prairie and junior Drew Bavaro (1-4-5). … Grad defenseman Ben Brinkman played his first four college seasons for the Gophers. … Irish are 29th in scoring offense (2.88 goals per game), 33rd in faceoffs won (50.5 percent) and 37th in power-play percentage (17.9 percent).

Notre Dame forward Ryder Rolston (12) during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Scouting Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota, the Big Ten regular-season champion in 2021-22, reached the Frozen Four semifinals in Boston before losing to Minnesota State 5-1 and finishing 26-13. … In a preseason poll of coaches, the Gophers and Irish were chosen to finish first and second. … Sophomore left wing Matthew Knies, a 2022 Olympian, has five goals, one less than his freshman right wing Jimmy Snuggerud. … Knies (3-2-5) and Snuggerud (6-3-9) play on a line with freshman center Logan Cooley (2-5-7), a standout from Pittsburgh who was taken by Phoenix with the third pick of last summer’s NHL Draft. … Minnesota’s leading scorer, however, is senior defenseman Jackson LaCombe (3-7-10). … The goalie is senior Justen Close, who has a 4-3-0 record, a 2.28 goals-against average, a saves percentage of .900 and one shutout. … Gophers are eighth in scoring with 3.88 goals a game, 16th in faceoffs won (52.7 percent) and 23rd in power-play percentage (21.2 percent).

More:Notre Dame’s Jackson Pierson likes playing hockey back in his home state of Indiana

Quoting Jeff Jackson

On Minnesota: “There’s no question they have some of the most talented players in the country. It starts with their back end (defense). They’ve got guys who are mobile and have good instincts offensively. When they attack, you’re going to see five-men attacks. And they’ve brought a lot of quality players upfront. They are one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the country right now.”

On Notre Dame: “I still think we’re a work in progress. I don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders yet. For me, we still need to find that consistency in our game. From game to game, I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to see. We’ve had some really good games where we’ve looked really sharp, and I’d love to be able to bottle that.”

On playing on Olympic-size rink, aka “The Big Sheet”: “I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘Big Sheet.’ Everyone used to say it creates more offense. I look at it the other way. Teams defend more, playing a more conservative game. It lends to a more boring game in a lot of ways.”

On motivation for his players from Minnesota: “Guys find a way to elevate (their games). It is their hometown team from when they were kids. There’s always that incentive to play well in their home state, in front of their family and friends. I love the Minnesota guys. They’ve been a big part of our program since I’ve been here with the connection that started way back with (former Irish head coach) Lefty Smith.”

On Bischel: “Ryan had a tough first weekend but since then has settled in. After last season, I thought he was ready to be a No. 1 guy. … I really thought it was his time to shine.”

John Fineran, Correspondent