After an 8-2 midweek win over rival Boston College to close out non-conference play (Jan. 19) followed by a bye weekend, the No. 11/12 Fighting Irish open the stretch run of the Big Ten season by playing host to No. 10/10 Minnesota (Jan. 28-29).
Third place Minnesota (9-5-0-1-1-0 B1G/27 pts.) and fourth place Notre Dame (9-5-0-4-1-0 B1G/24 pts) enter the weekend separated by three points in the conference standings.
The teams kicked off Big Ten play against each other in Minneapolis on Oct. 29-20, with the Gophers earning a 4-1 game one win followed by a narrow 3-2 win in game two as the Irish were swept for the only time this season.
Since Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, 16 of 24 meetings between the two teams have been one goal games or ended in a tie (14 one-goal games and two ties).
In Notre Dame’s most recent game, the 8-2 win over Boston College, Ryder Rolston notched his first career hat trick, while Grant Silianoff had a career-high four points (1-3-4,) Spencer Stastney and Graham Slaggert each posted a goal and two assists and Matthew Galajda made a career-high 40 saves to earn the win in his 99th career game.
Rolston was named the Big Ten’s Third Star of the Week for his performance, which included his team-leading fourth game-winning goal of the season.
The four game winners rank tied for fourth in the country and tied for second in the Big Ten.
The Irish had three power-play goals against the Eagles, marking Notre Dame’s first game with three power-play goals since an 8-1 win at Ohio State on February 6, 2021.
Max Ellis leads the Irish with a career-best 24 points on a team-high 14 goals and 10 assists.
Ellis’ 14 goals rank tied for 11th in the country (tied for third in the Big Ten).
Rolston now ranks second on the Irish with nine goals (he had one goal in 28 games last season as a freshman).
Balanced attack: 15 Notre Dame players have scored this season, while 12 players have at least 10 points on the season.
The Fighting Irish are 10-4-0 at Compton Family Ice Arena this season.
The Irish are 11-1-0 when scoring first this season and 15-0-0 when scoring at least three goals.
Notre Dame’s penalty kill is 86-for-93 on the season (.9247), which ranks first in the NCAA.
The Irish also have five shorthanded goals this season (Ellis 2, Cam Burke 2, Spencer Stastney), which ranks tied for fourth in the country (first in the Big Ten).
Notre Dame is 5-2-0 in overtime this season, with the OT game-winning goals coming from Cam Burke (at Michigan Tech), Ryder Rolston (at Michigan), Max Ellis (at Michigan and at Penn State), and Spencer Stastney (at Ohio State).
Notre Dame has made each of the last five NCAA Tournaments, the longest streak in program history, and eight of the last 11 NCAA Tournaments overall.
The five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is the second-longest active streak in the NCAA, trailing only Minnesota Duluth (6), with Minnesota State (3) and St Cloud State (3) tied for third.
THE NOTRE DAME – MINNESOTA SERIES
Minnesota leads the all-time series 37-24-5 dating back to 1924-25 when the Irish lost 2-1 in overtime in the first meeting.
Notre Dame recognizes its first win over Minnesota in 1926-27 when the Irish shutout their opponent, 2-0, in Minneapolis.
Thirty contests between the two teams have been decided by a single goal, with the Irish narrowly leading that category 16-14.
Since Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, 16 of 24 meetings have been one goal games or ended in a tie (14 one goal games and two ties).
The teams are playing for a 10th consecutive season.
Before the Irish joined the Big Ten, those meetings largely overlapped with Mario Lucia’s time at Notre Dame from 2012-16 (Mario is the son of former Minnesota head coach Don Lucia – a 1981 Notre Dame graduate/former defenseman).
Earlier this season, Minnesota swept a home series by scores of 4-1 and 3-2.
Solag Bakich’s goal early in the third period had tied that second game at 2-2 but Bryce Brodzinki netted the game winner with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.
Matthew Galajda played game one of that series and posted 25 saves, with Ryan Bischel getting the nod in game two (21 saves).
Last season, the Irish swept then top-ranked Minnesota at 3M Arena by scores of 3-2 and 2-1 on Jan. 15-16 and then the Gophers swept a series at Notre Dame on Feb. 12-13 in a pair of 3-0 wins.
During the 2019-20 regular season, the Irish went 1-1-2 against Minnesota, including a 1-0-1 mark in Minneapolis (Nov. 1-2).
That road series at Minnesota included a 2-2 game one tie (Minnesota won the 3-on-3 ot) and a 5-3 game two victory.
Then in the 2020 playoffs, the Gophers eliminated the Irish, two games to one on March 6-8.
The teams eliminated each other from the postseason in 2019 and 2020 with the Irish posting a 2-1 Big Ten Tournament semifinal win in overtime on March 16, 2019 en route to ultimately claiming a second consecutive Big Ten Tournament Championship.
Notre Dame’s active career leaders against the Gophers include Nick Leivermann (17 GP; 5-1-6), Graham Slaggert (18 GP; 2-4-6), Spencer Stastney (18 GP; 1-4-5) and Trevor Janicke (13 GP; 3-2-5).
Five of Leivermann’s 17 career goals have come against the Gophers.
Several Fighting Irish skaters have increased their point totals this season over the past few years.
After a freshman season with one goal in eight games and a sophomore season with 16 points in 24 games (5-11-16), Max Ellis has 14 goals and 10 assists for a career-best 24 points in 23 games.
Ellis posted the first hat trick of his career, capped by scoring the overtime game-winning goal, at Michigan on Nov. 20 marking the first visiting player to record a hat trick at Yost Ice Arena in 15 years (2006).
In 24 games this season, Cam Burke has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points, all of which represent career-high totals for the senior.
Solag Bakich has a career-high 14 points (4-10-14) in 20 games this season after scoring once in 10 games as a freshman and then notching seven points (4-3-7) in 28 games as a sophomore.
Ryder Rolston had six points on a goal and five assists last season as a freshman and now has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 23 games as a sophomore.
Defenseman Jake Boltmann joined the Irish for the second semester last season, skating in 19 games (0 points).
This season, Boltmann has a goal and eight assists for nine points in 24 games.