After a dramatic victory over Michigan in the Frozen Four, Notre Dame hockey will play for a National Championship Saturday night.
There may have been a few heart attacks along the way, but Notre Dame hockey has earned a chance for their first National Championship in program history. Minnesota-Duluth also advanced to the championship game after defeating fellow Big Ten foe Ohio State 2-1 on Thursday in the Frozen Four.
Notre Dame had the advantage of experience over Michigan, given that the Irish were in the Frozen Four last year. That won’t be the case this time. Last season, Minnesota-Duluth reached the National Championship game, eventually losing to Denver 3-2. Still, the two dominant programs will likely give us a performance to remember.
Minnesota-Duluth secured their spot in the championship game with two quick goals in the first four minutes against Ohio State.
Why is this important? Because that is similar to what Notre Dame had to face against Michigan. The Wolverines jumped out to a two-goal lead, forcing the Irish to play from behind.
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Yet, that’s where Notre Dame has thrived. The Irish are a very calm team and they trust their system and capabilities. Their confidence stems from the experience and countless accomplishments of head coach Jeff Jackson.
No matter what game plan UMD comes with, the Irish will have the confidence to take this game to the final seconds if needed.
When it comes to confidence, the Bulldogs have no reason to lack any. This is a team that nearly missed the tournament. Their faith was in the hands of the committee after losing in the NCHC semifinals to North Dakota.
The Bulldogs received an at-large bid and it’s clear that it was the right decision, as they compete in their second consecutive championship game.
UMD exploded out of the gates as they outshot Ohio State 17-4 in the first period. If they control the start of the game like that, we could see a similar scenario where Notre Dame is playing from behind once again.
While the Irish are a well-rounded defensive team, they will have to keep as much pressure off of Cale Morris as they can. Keeping the puck in UMD’s end will be key.
But in the event that a comeback is needed to win a title, Notre Dame has proven that they are more than capable of that.
Players to watch:
- Jared Thomas, Forward, 6-2, Senior
- 25 points with 10 goals and 15 assists
- Scored in the first three minutes vs. Ohio State
- Three game-winning goals
- Scott Perunovich, Defenseman, 5-10, Freshman
- Team-high 36 points and 25 assists
- .190 shot percentage
- Four-power play goals
- Jake Evans
- Team-high 45 points and 32 assists
- Scored the game-winning goal against Michigan
- Five game-winning goals this season
- Andrew Oglevie, Forward, 5-10, Junior
- 38 points on 14 goals and 2 assists
- Serving as an alternate captain
- Team-high eight power play goals
Notre Dame will look to secure their first National Championship in program history Saturday. Puck drops at 7:30 PM ET at the Xcel Energy Center on ESPN.