The series against Notre Dame brought the first two loses of the season for Mel Pearson and his Wolverines squad. In the Friday game, Notre Dame jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Michigan mounted a comeback. Unfortunately, the Wolverines came up short and the Irish took the win by the score of 3-2.
The Saturday game played out in a rather unique fashion. All goals were scored in the last 2:14 of the game, including an empty netter that gave Notre Dame the 2-1 win. Despite having six skaters against four Irish defenders for the last 46 seconds thanks to a late Notre Dame penalty, Michigan weren’t able to equalize.
Wolverines struggled to score
Michigan had a hard time finding the back of the net in this series. It was not for lack of trying, the Wolverines tallied 58 shots across the two games, but the offense just couldn’t seem to convert for long stretches of these two games. Notre Dame and their goalie Ryan Bishcel deserve a lot of the credit for Michigan’s difficulties converting in the offensive zone. The Irish disrupted the Wolverine attack effectively in both games, reducing the quality of the scoring chances that Michigan did have. Bischel was then very strong in goal for Notre Dame, stopping many of the scoring chances the Wolverines managed to create.
Bischel continues to deny Michigan on its chances pic.twitter.com/tjLxjhV5bl— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) November 29, 2020
Notre Dame largely controlled these games
For the second weekend in a row, Michigan found themselves playing from behind. Head coach Mel Pearson said after the game, “we didn’t have a lead all weekend. That plays to their style.” The Irish look like they will be very tough to beat this year when they are able to get ahead. Notre Dame doesn’t take many chances; they aren’t trying to stretch the ice that much. The Irish just counterpunch and wait for the opposing team to make a mistake. When mistakes are made, Notre Dame capitalizes. The Irish only mustered 18 shots in the Friday game, which is not very many in today’s fast-paced college game, but those 18 shots led to three goals. As Stephen covered in his video breakdown of that game, many were high quality scoring chances that resulted from Michigan turnovers.
Talent vs Experience
The composition of these two teams and their respective playing styles are very different. Michigan has a roster full of electric freshmen who bring immense offensive firepower to bear. Notre Dame is a veteran-laden team who are fundamentally sound. Michigan seems most at home in a track meet at this point in the season, while Notre Dame wants to exert control and grind down opposing teams. In the end, the fundamentally sound veterans came away victorious. Michigan can and surely will adjust, but this series serves as notice that until they do there are viable ways to disrupt the Wolverines’ dynamic attack.
Michigan will look to bounce back in mid-week action against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State are 0-4 after being swept by Minnesota and Wisconsin in their first two series of the year. The first game is on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. on ESPNU, and the second game is on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. on BTN+.