Penn State Men’s Hockey vs. Notre Dame: Series Preview

Story posted February 4, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Evan Popalis

After splitting a two-game series against Ohio State, Penn State heads back on the road to battle No. 13 Notre Dame in a key series.

Both teams head into this matchup sitting right in the middle of the Big Ten standings. The Fighting Irish have had the Nittany Lions’ number overall in the series, plotting a 15-7-3 record versus the blue and white. Notre Dame is 5-1-0 in its previous six games this season.

The last time these two teams squared off, Notre Dame pulled off a sweep at Pegula Ice Arena. Penn State was devastated in overtime in the finale of the previous series between the two squads, conceding a goal with less than a second remaining in the extra frame.

“I think from a coaching standpoint, we are hungry to prove that we learned something,” Guy Gadowsky said when asked about seeking motivation for the upcoming tilt.

Junior forward Max Ellis was the achilles’ heel for the blue and white and leads the Irish with 15 goals and 25 points on the campaign.

The goaltending duties for Notre Dame have shifted more onto the shoulders of junior Ryan Bischel. The Medina, Minnesota, native had a 38-save performance against the Nittany Lions on Jan. 7.

Notre Dame has let in the fewest amount of goals in the conference this season. The Fighting Irish have surrendered 57 in 26 games, while Penn State has allowed the second-most goals in the Big Ten with 88.

Gadowsky has incorporated the goalie tandem over the previous two series, and the move has been quite successful for the Nittany Lions. Sophomore Liam Souliere earned victories over Wisconsin and No. 12 Ohio State in his last two starts.

Expect that same rotation in net this weekend as Souliere continues to play the best hockey of his young career for the blue and white.

With this crucial series on tap, plus the lingering effects of the previous meeting between the two sides, the sense is Penn State will be firing on all cylinders come Friday night. The Nittany Lions will find ways to make the Irish defense work and make the night difficult vision-wise for whichever goalie gets the nod for the home team.

“We all have it in the back of our minds,” freshman forward Danny Dzhaniyev said. “We know what we have to do to beat them.”

Yet, Notre Dame could very well be the most structured team in the conference. It’s a tall task to ask the Nittany Lions to go into South Bend and exit with six points.

If the standings were to remain in the current position, these two teams would meet up in the Big Ten tournament. Penn State eliminated the Irish from the tournament a season ago, leading to the demise of Notre Dame’s playoff run.

The series gets underway Friday night in South Bend at Compton Family Ice Arena with a puck drop at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s contest is scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m.

Prediction: Series split


Evan Popalis is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

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Evan Popalis

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Evan Popalis is a third-year from Lititz, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer, analyst, and play-by-play commentator for the CommRadio sports department. His writings include weekly NHL betting previews along with power rankings for the NHL and NFL. He appears weekly on the NHL Podcast as a host and analyst reviewing the previous week’s action. If you would like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).