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Second Round vs. Big Ten Foes Commences at Notre Dame

Jan 7, 2021
Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics

Game Notes | Watch on NBCSN App

NOTRE DAME, IN – After putting No. 1 Minnesota in some unfamiliar territory, Sun Devil Hockey begins the second half of the season and second round of meetings against Big Ten foes as they meet No. 18 Notre Dame at Compton Family Ice Arena. Saturday's puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. MT, while Sunday's will be 5 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. MT, with both games airing on NHL Network, SNY, NBC Sports App, as well as other regional networks listed below.

The Sun Devils (4-8-2) are looking to avenge their finish of the previous series with the Fighting Irish (4-5-1), which ended with a split back in December. ASU earned the 6-3 victory in game one before Notre Dame earned a 5-4 comeback win in game two with the game-winner in the final five seconds. .  
"We want to replicate how we played in the second period of game two (against Notre Dame). That was still our best period all year," said head coach Greg Powers. "We have to stop only putting together good stretches in games, we have to put together good games and stretches of full games."
Sun Devil Rewind
Despite the outcome against the top-ranked Gophers, the Sun Devils showed up for the challenge and gave Minnesota a run for their money. Going into the weekend, the Golden Gopher's penalty kill had never allowed a goal through eight games until the streak was spoiled by freshman forward Matthew Kopperud, who tallied his eighth of the season in the first period on Sunday. Minnesota had also never trailed this season until Kopperud's goal five minutes into the game. The next day, senior forward Sean Dhooghe scored his second of the season on the Golden Gophers near-perfect PK unit. Minnesota had not allowed more than two goals in a game with an average of one goal allowed per game, but ASU managed to put up four on Monday night. Also important to note, ASU did not commit a penalty during Monday's game for the first time in program history.
The Sun Devil offense celebrated the return of active NCAA career goal leader Johnny Walker, who made SportsCenter's top play on Monday with a lacrosse-style goal against No. 1 Minnesota. Walker, who missed 10 games with an injury, saw limited minutes on Sunday before having multiple scoring chances in addition to his goal on Monday. He becomes an added offensive weapon to a squad averaging 3.90 goals per game over the last 10 games – ranking tied for 4th in the country.
Luck of the Irish
After playing the Sun Devils last month, the Fighting Irish split a series with Ohio State and then went to overtime in both games with Michigan State, resulting in a tie and a loss. This upcoming series will be the first post-break games for the Irish.
Notre Dame has been without freshman forward Landon Slaggert, who won gold with Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championship and is expected to return for the weekend series. Slaggert has three points (1G-2A) in six games with the one goal being scored against the Sun Devils.
Junior forward Alex Steeves currently paces the team in scoring with 10 points (5G-5A) and carries a five-game point streak into the series, while Graham Slaggert is second in scoring with eight points (3G-5A) and has a four-game point streak going into the weekend.