Irish Hockey Win East Regional to Reach Frozen Four

After back-to-back nail-biters, the Notre Dame Hockey team punched their tickets to the Frozen Four. The Irish knocked off the Michigan Tech Huskies in overtime 3-2 in the tournament’s opening game. The following night, the Irish beat Providence 2-1 to win the region and earn a trip to St. Paul. The rest tournament was a mix of upsets and chalk. ND’s East Region and Ohio State’s Midwest Region didn’t feature a single upset. The West and Northeast, however, saw the #1 seeds lose their opening games including #1 overall seed St. Cloud State getting dumped 4-1 by bottom-seeded Air Force. When the dust settled, the Irish will be joined by Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota-Duluth in the Frozen Four with the Irish taking on the Wolverines in their semifinal.

Game 1

Despite being a bottom seed, Michigan Tech entered the game on a blistering run. The Huskies needed to win back-to-back road series against Bemidji State and Minnesota State to reach the WCHA Championship Game. On the road again in the final, Tech knocked off fellow Upper Peninsula squad Northern Michigan to win the conference and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies took the lead early in the second period, but the Irish quickly responded to tie, then take the lead on goals by Dylan Malquist and Joe Wegwerth before the midpoint of the second.

Tech equalized early in the third, but Jordan Gross restored the lead on the power play later in the period. The Irish had a couple chances to kill the game, but couldn’t net an insurance goal as regulation wound down. With just over a minute remaining and the goalie pulled, Tech forward Jake Jackson skated through the Irish defense and beat Cale Morris to force overtime. The OT period was mostly controlled by ND, but the Irish struggled to find the winning goal. Notre Dame was nearly sent packing, but were saved by a diving clearance by Jack Jenkins after a shot slid under Morris.


Less than a minute later, the Irish scored.


Jordan Gross scored his second goal of the night to break the Huskies’ hearts and send the Irish through to the second round.

Game 2

An old Hockey East foe, the Providence Friars, loomed in the second round. The Friars were runners up in both the Hockey East regular season and tournament finishing behind Boston College in the standings, and losing 2-0 to Boston University in the tournament final. PC shutout Clarkson 1-0 in the opening round, and their game against the Irish was similarly low scoring. Providence opened the scoring just two minutes into the game on a goal by Kasper Björkqvist. Despite the Irish out shooting PC 10-5, the Friars went into the intermission with the lead. The Irish controlled much of the second, but couldn’t find the net. Late in the period, the Friars took a penalty for goalie interference giving ND their first power play of the period. Andrew Ogilve scored after a mad scramble in the front of the net to tie the game just before intermission.

Unlike the first two periods, PC had the upper hand for much of the final period. Morris made a number of big saves to keep the game tied at one. With regulation ticking away, the Irish mounted a final rush into the Providence zone. Cal Burke found the puck behind the net, and slid an inch perfect pass to Malmquist. Malmquist’s shot beat the Providence goalie, and the Irish had a 2-1 lead with 27 seconds to go. Unlike the night before, the Irish finished off the game despite Providence pulling the goalie for an extra skater. The win gives ND their first back-to-back Frozen Fours in program history.

While the pass and goal are obviously the highlights here, check out the complete non-reaction by head coach Jeff Jackson and the rest of the staff while the rest of the bench is going crazy.

Looking Ahead to the Frozen Four

Notre Dame is probably the favorite of the teams heading to St. Paul, but it’s by a slim margin. The Irish will face familiar opposition in Michigan in the Frozen Four. The Irish split the season series with the Wolverines 2-2. ND won the first two matchups 2-1 in January, then lost 4-2 and 1-0 in mid-February after the Irish had already clinched the Big Ten. The Irish are also familiar with potential finals opponent, Ohio State. Notre Dame went 4-1 against the Buckeyes which included a win in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Irish haven’t faced the lone non-B1G semifinalist Minnesota-Duluth this year, but they did split an early road series with the Bulldogs last season. The Frozen Four games will take place Thursday, April 5th with the ND-UM game in the second spot of the double header at 9:30 ET on ESPN2. If the Irish #rememberthe6 and beat the skunk-bears, they’ll play for the program’s first National Championship on Saturday, April 7th at 7:30 ET on ESPN.

By |2018-05-09T22:25:23+00:00March 29th, 2018|18S Reads|7 Comments

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Clearwall
Clearwall

Finally, some hockey posts on this site. I was beginning to worry we’d given up on it as a community.

That MT game…wow that was nerve wracking. They really played a LOT better than I thought they would or maybe ND just kind of held back too much. I thought we’d smoke them based on their opponent record and stats. Their offense was really good, though and nearly cost us. On that GWG, your clip doesnt show it but it is even more devastating for MT because they had total control of the puck and had ND on their heels in the D-zone. They passed back to the point and one of their D-men had a wide open slap shot and broke his stick on it. Morrisson picked it up to get on that breakaway that you showed. It’s so heart wrenching to know you were controlling play and just an absolute bad luck break ended up losing your season(and for some their careers).

Providence…man I really didnt want to face them. I didn’t want any de-facto home games in the tournament(so coincidentally I’m kind of pulling for OSU next week too). But that performance was more indicative of what ND should be doing. The score is definitely close, but we really owned the entire second half of that game. One really good play was all I saw providence get and it led to the first early goal. ND had numerous close calls for near goals and just couldnt get them past one of the other best goalies in the nation on PC’s side. Finally, though we found the way through and it was all ND from there. PC’s defense and goaltending kept them in it but really it was going to be ND coming out of that game and you knew it. Luckily, we didnt have to go to OT again.

Next up, the scUM of the earth. Hopefully we beat them by 6…you know why.

Cubfansince1957
Cubfansince1957

You are absolutely correct about MT having ND back on its heels. If you listen to the play-by-play of the time when MT had the puck in our zone, we had several exhausted players on the ice (I think they were still on the ice for the game winner), and if you watch the video closely, the puck actually made it into the crease and was inches away from going in for a game winner for MT.

If ND wins the National Championship, we’ll have to remember that moment as testimony to the fact that we would rather be lucky than good.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Nice, thanks for the hockey post. I was really impressed by the ND team last weekend, the second half of the season (Big10 tourny not withstanding) they were getting outshot too much and outchanced and relying way too much on their goalie bailing them out. So I was worried that one off game by Morris would spell a quick exit in Frozen Four like so many other high ranked seeds that lose early.

But to their credit, ND flipped the script big time so far in the Frozen Four by controlling possession and being borderline dominant in even strength shot attempts. And ironically it was Morris who almost led to ND’s ouster by giving up a weak goal late in the 3rd vs Michigan Tech. He’s been so good all year though so you can’t blame him too much.

Anything can happen in single-elimination but I would have to say ND has the most talent of any team remaining. I was glad to see Denver bounced they have a couple NHL caliber guys right now. Wish the NCAA would schedule these better too much down time now until the tournament picks up again.

tlndma
tlndma

Congratulations to Coach Jackson for winning the Spencer Penrose Div.1 Coach of the Year Award.

Coyote1985
Coyote1985

Down goes Michigan! Irish win 4-3 on Jake Evans goal with 3.7 seconds left. The Irish will take on Minnesota-Duluth for the National Championship on Saturday night at 7:30 ET!

Go Irish!!