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ASU Hockey: Notre Dame Preview

Trip to South Bend

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

Fresh off back-to-back wins, No. 20 Arizona State (2-3-1) ventures into South Bend this weekend to take on No. 16 Notre Dame (2-2) at Compton Arena.

After starting the year with two losses at home, Jeff Jackon’s Fighting Irish squad bounced back with an impressive sweep, taking two games from previously unbeaten Michigan in Ann Arbor.

With both teams riding high coming into this two-game set, they’ll look to continue their momentum. Here’s a look at the matchup:

What Time/Where To Watch

Both games drop the puck at 5 p.m. local time, with game one on Thursday, Dec. 3 being broadcasted on NHL Network and NBC Sports Chicago and Philadelphia. Game two on Friday, Dec. 4 can be seen on NBC Sports Network.

Players To Watch

Junior forward Alex Steeves leads Notre Dame in scoring this year, putting up five points in four games played. Additionally, senior forward Colin Theisen leads the team in goals with three.

On the blue line, the Fighting Irish also boast three NHL draft picks, including Nate Clurman, Spencer Stastney, and Nick Leivermann.

Between The Pipes

Sophomore goaltender Ryan Bischel and senior Dylan St. Cyr have just about split time in net this season.

Bischel has the much better numbers to start the year though, holding a 1.42 goals against average and .951 save percentage in three games played.

As for St. Cyr, he has appeared in two games, holding just a .841 save percentage and 3.42 GAA. St. Cyr started both matchups against the Badgers to start the year, but was pulled in game two after allowing five goals.

Bischel came on last week and earned both victories against the Wolverines, allowing just three goals in 120 minutes.

Series History

ASU is 0-2 all-time against the Fighting Irish, with the two losses coming back at the beginning of the 2016-17 season.

In former goaltender Joey Daccord’s first-ever start, he was roughed up in large part due to 20 ASU penalty minutes, allowing nine goals on 51 shots. The team was behind the eight-ball for much of the night because of time spent in the sin bin.

In game two, the Sun Devils came back much stronger, falling just 4-2. ASU was even knotted up going into the final period, but couldn’t come out on top against the then-ranked No. 8 team in the nation.

Quotes From Players/Coaches On The Matchup:

Coach Powers: “They are so structured and really well coached. They are very discipline. They aren’t going to take any dumb penalties, so if you’re going to be undisciplined, you’re going to lose. They are really hard to play against. They have a lot of talent, but do they have a talent of a team like Michigan? No, but they went in and they swept them because they throw so much structure at you. If you don’t have a plan and don’t have a disciplined approach to how you play a team this well coached, then you have no chance.”

Senior forward Willie Knierim on playing in South Bend: “It’s bringing back old memories. I grew up not too far from here (Skokie, IL) and we’d have showcases and things growing up here. It’s a trip down memory lane and it’s the first time I’ll play Notre Dame here. It’s pretty cool...They’ve been pretty good for a very long time, but especially the last couple of years. It’s going to be a challenge for us, but I think we’re up for it.”

Other Notes

-For the third straight weekend, ASU will be without forward and captain Johnny Walker, who is still nursing an injury and is hoping to be back in the next couple of weeks. He is still listed as “series-to-series”. Powers noted that he’s making steady progress as he tries to inch his way back to the ice.

-Forward Demetrios Koumontzis, who left midway through game two against Wisconsin with a lower body injury, will be healthy and ready to play. Powers said he’ll be “in the lineup Thursday”.

-Because of last weekend’s sweep, the Sun Devils jumped back into the USCHO top-20, coming in at No. 20.

-Last weekend against Wisconsin, forward Matthew Kopperud became the first freshman since Walker to register goals in consecutive games. He earned high praise this past week.

“Kopperud, that’s what he is. He’s a goal scorer,” Powers said. “From day one, I’ve compared him to a left shot Johnny Walker. They are very similar with their skill set, how they think, how they play, their skating, and everything...Matthew’s showing that he’s just a gifted offensive player. He’s a gamer.”