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.
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.
ICYMI: What a save by Jenkins and Morris to keep the Irish alive seconds before the game winner pic.twitter.com/H1sZIu4YIe
— Barstool Irish (@BarstoolIrish) March 23, 2018
Less than a minute later, the Irish scored.
THE LUCK OF THE IRISH ☘
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 23, 2018
Jordan Gross scored his second goal of the night to break the Huskies’ hearts and send the Irish through to the second round.
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.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 25, 2018
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.