Irish Hockey Makes Cinderella Run to Frozen Four

Our Notre Dame hockey coverage has been lacking at 18S this season. This is in part due to the non-stop entertainment (good and bad) coming from the football and men’s basketball teams, and mostly because infant sons and prep sports reporting schedules make it hard to make time to watch ND hockey.

But we couldn’t miss this one, not after the Irish made a surprise run to the Frozen Four in Chicago after barely sneaking into the NCAA tournament as a #4 seed. ND won the Northeast Regional with a pair of dramatic wins, coming from two goals down to beat top seed Minnesota before knocking off #2 seed — and soon-to-be former conference mate — UMass-Lowell in overtime. The Lowell win avenged a 5-1 loss to the River Hawks in the Hockey East semifinals.

The Lowell highlights are available here while the Minnesota game was put on YouTube in its entirety by some enterprising soul. The comeback begins at about the 58:10 mark.

It was Andrew Oglevie that scored the winner against Lowell, but the lion’s share of the credit has to go to Anders Bjork, who assisted on all three ND goals in the game. (Fitting, as Bjork led the team in goals, assists and points this year.) Bjork managed to beat a handful of Lowell foes to a loose puck in the corner and made a spectacular feed to Oglevie, who was waiting to snipe the winner.

Oglevie and Bjork also spearheaded the comeback against Minnesota, each scoring a second-period goal within a minute of each other to tie the score at two. Bjork tallied the winner with just under nine minutes to go.

This sets the Irish up to face the top overall seed in the tournament, Denver, on Thursday night, Apr. 6. Face-off will be at approximately 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2 unless the previous semifinal between Harvard and Minnesota-Duluth goes long. (Interestingly, the Frozen Four will be comprised of a 1, a 2, a 3 and a 4 seed.) Hopefully ND will have a sizable home-ice advantage with the Frozen Four at the United Center and ND the only nearby school competing.

We’ll have a closer look at the ND/Denver matchup as it draws closer — does 11 days seem like a long lead time to anyone else, or is that just me?

(Photo from Mill City Sports)

By |2018-05-09T22:26:22+00:00March 27th, 2017|Hockey|8 Comments

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tlndmaMr. WednesdayClearwallhooks orpik Recent comment authors
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hooks orpik
hooks orpik

11 days is too long of a lead time, the NCAA should plan it better but never seem to learn. I suppose college hockey can only fly so high this time of year with that other tournament going on, but still.

ND has a great team this year. Bjork, in my opinion, is as talented a player and reliable a scorer as there is in the NCAA this season. Not to jump too far ahead, but it will be interesting to see if he signs with the Boston Bruins and forgoes his senior season or elects to come back and get his degree. For those that may not know, there’s a loophole that allows players who are NCAA draft picks in the NHL to become unrestricted free agents the Aug 15th after they graduate.

So teams prefer to sign players after their junior (or sometimes even sophomore) seasons to ensure that players don’t “escape” their NHL entry draft team and then choose their own team. NHL entry level deals are capped, so money is basically same but it’s better for the player to obviously select a market they want to play in, and one that could help them get to the NHL quicker than if their draft team is really deep.

Thomas Di Pauli did this last season, Washington drafted him but he finished all his NCAA eligibility, decided not to sign with the Caps and chose Pittsburgh instead. I’m sure the Bruins would love to avoid this with Bjork, but it’s up to the player. I’d imagine he’s pretty much ready to turn pro, just a matter of his priorities. That’s a postseason question but an interesting one. I’d imagine Cal Petersen (Buffalo) is in the same boat since he’s pretty much the best goalie in the land too.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Cal has some holes I noticed yesterday. He really overcommits on a lot of shots and leaves himself prone to leaving wide swaths of the crease open. He and my son have the same deficiency. Overall, hes incredible in a straight shot and in playing the position. Quick glove, decent enough stick, but he sometimes gets off center and if he lets a rebound go when he does, it really makes for some scary moments.

Mr. Wednesday
Mr. Wednesday

In the case of Di Pauli, I don’t think he’d shown enough through his junior year to make Washington make a run at signing him. In Bjork’s case, I’d be shocked if the Bruins don’t close the deal. By all accounts, the organization is very high on him, and he really seems to fit a need with the club as Boston is very deep in centers but could use good wings.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

The Caps wanted Di Pauli and were willing to give him about max money on the ELC ($925,000 if in NHL), he was the one who turned them down in order to choose his own team.

http://thehockeywriters.com/caps-prospect-thomas-di-pauli-to-test-free-agency/

https://twitter.com/CraigCustance/status/758034939585658880

As far as Bjork, it’s totally up to him. Boston would love to turn him pro, but it’s not up to them. He’s only turning 21 this summer, quite young for a college hockey rising senior. The NHL isn’t going anywhere, it will still be there in 2 years. Bjork’s mother, father and 2 older sisters are all ND grads, perhaps he doesn’t want to be left out? (Though I know my guy Ian Cole from the Penguins finished up his degree on off-time from the NHL when he left after his junior season). Anyways, for Bjork it makes a lot of sense to finish up, have a great senior year and then next year he’s in a position to sign with Boston or even wait a few months and then pick his own team who could make a handshake promise to start him out in the NHL and not even the minor league.

Clearwall
Clearwall

For selfish reasons, I’d love to see him in a Winged Wheel so I definitely hope he returns for his senior season. Wings are going to suck again next year so we should have a pretty high pick and maybe we snag him this time.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Hockey’s CBA is different – a college graduate is ineligible for the draft, he’s an unrestricted free agent free to sign wherever he pleases if he elects to not sign with the team that drafted him years ago.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Well then in that case, come join Dylan Larkin, pair back up with a former Domer in Riley Sheahan and let’s have some fun

tlndma
tlndma

Boston is going to make every effort to sign him. They have had a hole at LW all season. ND’s season won’t be done until NHL season is done. I see Bjork getting signed and going to Providence for their AHL playoff run. If Anders waits it will be a bad PR hit for B’s.