Ryan Bischel finalist for Big Ten goaltender and player of the year honors

John Fineran
Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel (30) during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, March 04, 2023, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

The Big Ten Conference’s hockey coaches and media representatives have recognized what Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson and followers of the Fighting Irish have known all season long — senior goaltender Ryan is not only one of the best at his position but also one of the best players regardless of position.

The league announced Wednesday its finalists for five postseason awards, and Bischel, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound standout from Medina, Minn., was named a finalist for goaltender of the year (with Minnesota senior Justin Close and Ohio State sophomore Jakub Dobeš) and player of the year (with Michigan sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes and Minnesota sophomore forward Matthew Knies). 

Irish roundup:Lacrosse teams continue to roll; baseball adds another series win

The winners will be announced with other awards and the all-league teams on March 14.

“Ryan is the backbone of our team,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said in a release. “He’s had a great year and given our team a chance to win every night. His growth, both emotionally and as a goaltender, has been phenomenal over the last few seasons. “He’s earned and deserves this recognition as one of the best college hockey players, and goaltenders, in the country.”

Bischel started all 37 games for the Irish (freshman Jack Williams finished games at Air Force on Oct. 8 and at Minnesota Nov. 4) and compiled at 16-16-4 record. 

Big Ten tournament:MSU moves on behind St. Cyr and Müller to eliminate Notre Dame

In a nation-leading 2,182.51 minutes, Bischel made 1,183 saves (currently No. 1 nationally), had a .931 saves percentage (tied for No. 2 with Michigan Tech’s Blake Pietila behind Northeastern’s Devon Levi’s .932), recorded five shutouts (tied for fifth) and a 2.39 goals-against average (24th). 

Bischel had 35 or more saves in 15 games, including a career-high 52 in a 2-1 victory at Penn State on Jan. 20 and 50 in a 2-2 tie (and 3-2 shootout win) against Ohio State Feb. 11. 

In Notre Dame’s last two series of the regular season – at home against No. 7 Ohio State (Feb. 10-11) and at No. 4 Michigan (Feb. 24-25) – Bischel allowed just seven goals and made 167 saves (a .960 saves percentage) as the Irish earned nine of a possible 12 points to move from sixth place to fourth in the final standings to gain home ice for the playoffs against fifth-seed Michigan State.

Michigan State forward Jesse Tucker (16) and Notre Dame defenseman Chase Blackmun (5) battle for position in front of Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel (30) during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, March 04, 2023, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Bischel made 36 saves, 18 of them in the third period, as the offense-challenged Irish won the best-of-three series opener 1-0 before losing a pair of 4-2 games. Their season of 16-16-5 is on hold because of the slim possibility they could receive a seventh straight NCAA berth when the 16-team field is announced Sunday, March 19. 

In addition to his Big Ten finalist honors, Richter is one of nine semifinalists for the Mike Richter Goaltender of the Year Award and also is nominated for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the nation’s top player.

Finalists for the Big Ten postseason awards

  • Player of the Year: Luke Hughes, D, Michigan; Matthew Knies, LW, Minnesota; Ryan Bischel, G, Notre Dame.
  • Goaltender of the Year: Justen Close, Minnesota; Ryan Bischel, Notre Dame; Jakub Dobeš, Ohio State.
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Luke Hughes, D, Michigan; Brock Faber, D, Minnesota; Mason Lohrei, D, Ohio State.
  • Freshman of the Year: Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan; Logan Cooley, C, Minnesota; Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, Minnesota.
  • Coach of the Year: Adam Nightingale, Michigan State; Bob Motzko, Minnesota; Steve Rohlik, Ohio State.