|Michigan freshman Jacob Trouba is one of the many NHL prospects to watch Thursday night. (Courtesy: Michigan Athletics)|
The CBS Sports Network college hockey schedule opens with a terrific Central Collegiate Hockey Association rivalry game between two of the most storied schools in collegiate athletics. Notre Dame travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in the first meeting between the two squads this season.
The Irish have put together a 6-3-0 record in the face of one of the tougher opening schedules in the country, while Michigan has struggled to find consistency and sits at 4-4-1.
Notre Dame boasts two of the most exciting offensive talents in college hockey in junior forwards Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan. The pair has combined for 186 points over their careers and has been a big part of Notre Dame's recent college hockey success. Lee paces the Irish this season with nine points in as many games, including five goals. Tynan has been slumping compared to his usual production rate and has just four points this year.
Goaltender Steven Summerhays has been rock solid for Notre Dame, starting all but one game so far. He has posted a 1.86 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in eight starts. His performance has been welcome as many believed goaltending to be a position of weakness for the Irish coming into the season.
Michigan possesses the nation's leading goal scorer in A.J. Treais, who has lit the lamp eight times already this season. On top of that, junior Mac Bennett has been an offensive threat all season and is one of the top producing defensemen in the country with 10 points.
Goaltending has been an issue, as expected, for the Wolverines, who had the unenviable task of replacing All-American Shawn Hunwick. The freshman duo of Steve Racine and Jared Rutledge has combined for a 3.52 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.
Thursday night's match-up will include up to 22 NHL draft picks on the same ice sheet (a full list of those playing is included below). These are two of the elite programs when it comes to recruiting. So regardless of their spot in the standings, this should be an absolute treat of a game.
Ben Holden and Dave Starman have the call tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET at historic Yost Ice Arena. Here's some more info about the big CCHA tilt.
No. 8 Notre Dame (6-3-0) at No. 13 Michigan (4-4-1) -- 7:30 p.m. EST
NHL draft picks:
Notre Dame (12): Jeff Costello (OTT), Thomas Di Pauli (WSH), Steven Fogarty (NYR), Stephen Johns (CHI), Nick Larson (CGY), Anders Lee (NYI), Kevin Lind (ANA), Mario Lucia (MIN) Robbie Russo (NYI), Bryan Rust (PIT), T.J. Tynan (CLB), Austin Wuthrich (WSH)
Michigan (10): Mac Bennett (MTL), Phil Di Giuseppe (CAR), Alex Guptill (DAL), Zach Hyman (FLA), Kevin Lynch (CLB), Luke Moffatt (COL), Lee Moffie (SJS), Boo Nieves (NYR), Brennan Serville (WPG), Jacob Trouba (WPG)
Players to Watch
Anders Lee -- Jr., F, Notre Dame -- One of the dominant forces in college hockey over the last three years, Lee seems to find a way to factor into every game. At 6-3, 220, he's hard to miss out there as it is, but the big man has touch, too. The New York Islanders prospect has scored 46 goals during his time with the Irish, five of which have come during the first nine games this season. CBS Sports Network color analyst Starman said it appears Lee is still adjusting a bit to the new dynamics of being a center after playing on the wing with T.J. Tynan the last two years. He might still be working out the kinks in the defensive aspects of the position but has proven he can be an effective scoring center.
Jacob Trouba -- Fr., D, Michigan -- The No. 9 overall pick to Winnipeg in the NHL draft has made a statement in his young collegiate career. With crushing hits, including one that landed him a one-game suspension, Trouba is showing he is 18 only in age. He plays a man's game and has made himself a feared player. Trouba is also contributing offensively, averaging a point-per-game with three goals and five assists through his first eight college contests. He plays a style that will jump off your television screen and maybe even bring you out of your seat.
Scouting Reports from CBS Sports Network Color Analyst Dave Starman
Starman on Notre Dame: This is a balanced team that can play with tenacity and skill. The third line of Nick Larson, David Gerths, and usually Mike Voran is a hard-nosed momentum-changing line that finishes checks and gets teams on their heels. The top six forwards are solid and can score off the rush or in offensive zone play. The Irish have three very gifted offensive defensemen in Sam Calabrese, Stephen Johns, and Robbie Russo. Russo needs to be tracked as he elusively can show up where you don't expect him in the offensive zone and get chances. Notre Dame has gotten improved goaltending from Steven Summerhays. He's more positional and technical. Notre Dame's penalty kill has been lights out, which will be important as they play physical, will take penalties and will need to offset the Michigan power play.
Starman on Michigan: This is a team that has speed through the top three lines as well as the backend. Michigan has mobility on the defense with Jacob Trouba, Mac Bennett and Lee Moffie who will all get in the play. A.J. Treais is a threat to score 5-on-5 and on the power play. Michigan is dangerous as an East-West team and is as good if not better than anyone year after year of being able to toss the puck boards to boards to create offense and engage the weak side attacker. Michigan's Achilles' heel this year has been their play in the defensive zone and the goaltending has been average. Lack of composure sometimes gets to them, as they have shown trouble recovering from a bad goal against. Key for them is their power play. Michigan's top unit even without [currently injured New Jersey Devils prospect] Jon Merrill is high end.
For this year's complete CBS Sports Network college hockey schedule, click here.