You do not have to wait until Fall to see another big game inside Notre Dame Stadium. The Notre Dame hockey team will face off against Michigan this Saturday, January 5th.
Notre Dame hockey and Michigan will meet under the lights in Notre Dame Stadium for the second time in about four months. The first meeting resulted in a 24-17 victory for the Irish football team. This time around, the two teams will be clashing on ice.
In the season following their appearance in the National Championship Game, Notre Dame looks poised to contend for another Big Ten title and hopefully return to the Frozen Four.
Michigan has not faired as well in the first half of the season. They currently sit at 6-7-6. In their last five games, they have one loss and (remarkably) four ties.
The Irish and Wolverines met earlier this season for a two-game series in Ann Arbor. The teams split the series, but Notre Dame did outscore Michigan 7-4 in those games.
The next stop for this rivalry is the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium, a venue with 16 times the capacity of Compton Family Ice Arena.
This will not have been the only hockey game played there this year. The NHL’s Winter Classic, which featured the Bruins and the Blackhawks, was held in Notre Dame Stadium on New Year’s Day.
That event appeared to be a success; however, there were reports of vendors inside the stadium running out of food and beer. I do not think fans will experience that same inconvenience this weekend, as the crowd should be smaller.
Some players from the Bruins and Blackhawks applauded the quality of the ice inside the stadium during the Winter Classic — something that has been an issue in past outdoor games. The temperature is supposed to be a bit warmer on Saturday, but hopefully that will not negatively affect the playing conditions.
In other relevant news, Michigan will be without two of their top players for this game. Forward Josh Norris and defenseman Quinn Hughes both play on the United States national team that is participating in the World Juniors tournament. They have a semifinal game on Friday, and the players will be unavailable the following day.
This game is important for Notre Dame with respect to their place in the Big Ten standings. They are currently one point behind both Ohio State and Wisconsin. A win, which counts for three points, would go a long way in helping the Irish claim their second regular season conference championship in as many years.