In Notre Dame's first two games of the season, the Irish struggled to score and were on the losing end in both. When the team traveled to Ann Arbor to face top-five Michigan this weekend, it was the defense who broke through and led the way offensively. The Irish found a way to sweep the weekend series and improved their record to 2-2.
Defensemen Produce Offense
Of the five goals scored in the two wins, three of them were by defensemen. In Friday's 3-2 victory, junior Nick Leivermann opened the scoring with a slick shot from the top of the right circle.
Early in the second period, an Irish defenseman broke through yet again. Notre Dame forced a turnover and eventually found Nate Clurman at the point. The Irish captain put a shot on net, beating the Michigan goalie and extending the lead to two.
In Saturday's 2-1 win, junior defenseman Spencer Stastney wanted in on the fun. Late in the scoreless game, Stastney scored from the right point and the Irish took a late lead with 2:14 remaining in the game.
The Irish defense led the way to a sweep of the Wolverines by accounting for more than half of the team's goals.
Brilliant Ryan Bischel
After backing up in Notre Dame's opening series against Wisconson, goaltender Ryan Bischel got the start in both games against Michigan.
The sophomore netminder appeared in just seven games for the Irish last season, finishing with a record of 3-1. Facing a top-five Michigan team on the road would be his toughest task to date, and Bischel passed with flying colors.
In Friday's 3-2 win, Bischel stopped 32 of 34 shots. While holding on to a 3-0 lead, Bischel faced 26 shots between the second and third periods. Two would get by him, but he stood strong to secure the one-goal victory, making point-blank saves like this one below.
In Saturday's 2-1 win, Notre Dame and Michigan went scoreless until late in the third period when Notre Dame finally broke the tie. Bischel was once again brilliant. He shut the door on the Wolverines for nearly the entire game, only getting beat once with under a minute remaining the game.
Other Irish to score were freshman Grant Silianoff and junior Alex Steeves. Silianoff made no mistake on his breakaway in Friday's game, beating the goalie high for his first career collegiate goal.
What's On Tap Next?
The Irish return to the ice Thursday, December 3rd when they are back home to take on the 1-3-1 Arizona State Sun Devils. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM CT and the game will air on NHL Network. The second game of the series is Friday at 6 PM CT and will be broadcast on NBCSN.