Notre Dame hockey glance

Staff reports
ND Insider


WHO: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-5-1 overall, 14-2-0-0 Big Ten) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (13-11-4 overall, 6-8-4-2 Big Ten).

WHERE: Pegula Ice Arena (6,014 capacity), University Park, Pa.

WHEN: Friday at 6:35 p.m.; Saturday at 4:05 p.m. (both on Big Ten Network Plus/WZOC-FM 94.3)

RANKINGS: Notre Dame is No. 2 in both the (media) and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine (coaches’) polls behind Cornell. Penn State is No. 17 in the media poll and receiving votes in the coaches’ poll.

SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame leads the series 3-2-1 and is 1-1-0 at Penn State … The Irish have swept the Nittany Lions in South Bend, winning 5-3 on Nov. 10 and 1-0 on Nov. 11.

PENN STATE: Since a 5-2 victory over Ohio State Jan. 12, the Nittany Lions are winless in five games (0-4-1).

ICE CHIPS: The leading scorers for both teams have 31 points: Notre Dame’s Jake Evans (9 goals-22 assists) and Penn State’s Andrew Sturtz (11-20). … Right wing Cal Burke leads the Irish in goals with 12, one fewer than Penn State leader Denis Smirnov. … ND's Cale Morris is first nationally in save percentage (.952), first in winning percentage (.864, 19-3), third in goals-against average (1.61) and fourth in shutouts (four). … Penn State averages 3.71 goals per game (2nd nationally) to Notre Dame’s 3.04 (23rd). ... On power plays, Notre Dame is converting at 21.6 percent (16th) to Penn State’s 20.8 percent (18th) … Penn State, which outshot Notre Dame 43-19 and 33-27 in the November series, has 1,114 shots in 28 games (39.8 average) to Notre Dame’s 784 shots in 26 (30.4).

QUOTING JEFF JACKSON: (Playing at Penn State and being tested) “They’ve created one of the toughest game environments in the country. They haven’t won in a few weeks. They are going to come after us hard. … We want to be tested, we want to be pushed so when we do go into the playoffs we want to be ready for the competitive level we’re going to face against quality teams.

(Continued improvement) “Regardless of rankings and other stuff, I just know we have to work harder to possess the puck. (Last) Saturday night against Minnesota (4-1 win) was maybe our best puck-possession game of the season. That’s a real positive sign. It shows up in the shots (on goal) and the shot attempts. You can feel it on the bench … you don’t need to look at the stats.”