Notre Dame Hockey Joins the Big Ten
November 3 will mark the start of Notre Dame’s inaugural Big Ten hockey season when the Fighting Irish take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was announced in late March earlier this year that the team from South Bend would become a single sport affiliate of the conference and the young league’s seventh team.
This addition adds great depth and action to a conference that has been suffering from bad ticket sales and a lack of interest since its inception three years ago. Now coming into its fourth season, the Big Ten adds a finalist from the Frozen Four last year and a market that loves its hockey.
While located in Indiana, Notre Dame and the town of South Bend are a part of the Chicago hockey market, a city known for hockey success with the Chicago Blackhawks. There is a solid fan base as well as a great facility to play in at the Compton Family Ice Arena, seeing its first hockey action only six years ago.
The team that plays in that arena however has had success in the past as well as its recent Frozen Four appearance.
It is a storied program dating back over fifty years, with most of success coming in the last 15 years. Since 2004, the Fighting Irish has made the NCAA tournament nine times, advancing to the Frozen Four 3 times since 2008, and even making the championship game that year, although they came up short against Boston College. This program is surging and not going away anytime soon.
Notre Dame adds themselves to a playoff conversation that looked very boring at the beginning of this season.
The Big Ten looked to be between last year’s champion Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio State as a wildcard contender. Penn State was the only wrinkle last year in a conference that ran pretty pedestrian otherwise. Minnesota and Wisconsin were at the top of the heap until mid-way through the season when Penn State showed everyone they were for real by reaching the No. 1 ranking in college hockey.
Now, everyone knows how good Penn State is and it would have been a bleak season until February without the addition of Notre Dame. This team brings a level of uncertainty, as well as untapped rivalry potential between a few schools.
Because of its age, Notre Dame naturally will always compete tough against Minnesota, a battle of two storied programs. However, there is some history between Penn State and Notre Dame.
An unranked Nittany Lions squad went inside the friendly confines of the Compton Family Ice Arena, and took a series from then-third-ranked Notre Dame, tying them in the first game, then winning the second game in overtime, 3-2. The two teams also played in the 2015-16 campaign, with Penn State receiving a shellacking 7-4 in their home opener, then returning the favor the next night with a final score of 5-3 in favor of the Lions.
Clearly, there has been a precedent set between these two teams as well as others in the conference of stiff competition. Only time will tell whether or not these matchups can produce some heated rivalries.
The Big Ten made a bold move bringing in the Fighting Irish this past offseason. Now it’s up to the Fighting Irish to live up to the expectations of a hockey powerhouse and bring that level of competition to the ice, starting November 3 in Columbus.
Travis Sutton is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email email@example.com.