Monday, March 28, 2011

Irish Hockey Reaches 2011 Frozen Four

In front of a partisan crowd in Manchester, NH the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hockey team defeated the New Hampshire Wildcats 2-1 to earn their second Frozen Four bid in four years. With five seconds remaining in the second period Billy Maday scored what would be the eventual game-winning goal.

Goalie Mike Johnson, a sophomore, was the real story of the day though as he turned away 37 of the Wildcats' 38 shots.

AP Photo / Josh Gibney

One day earlier Johnson made 32 saves on 35 shots to help the Irish earn a thrilling come from behind 4-3 OT victory against Merrimack College. Anders Lee led the way against the Warriors with two goals including the game-winner roughly five minutes into the overtime period.

Notre Dame will play Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) on Thursday, April 7 at 5pm EST in the Frozen Four in St. Paul, MN. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and will also be available on Should the Irish defeat the UMD Bulldogs they would advance to the NCAA title game on Sunday, April 9 at 7pm EST against the winner of Michigan and North Dakota. The championship game will be televised on ESPN.

This marks only the second time in school history the Irish have advanced to the Frozen Four. In 2008 the Irish advanced to Denver for the Frozen Four where they defeated rival Michigan in an overtime thriller. Boston College defeated the Irish in the championship game.

Head coach Jeff Jackson enters his fifth Frozen Four in his coaching career. He won two national championships (1992 and 1994) while at Lake Superior State. In between the two titles Jackson's squad lost the 1993 title game to Maine.

If Jackson's title game history has any sense of repeating itself it could develop into Notre Dame's first hockey championship in school history.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, though, the Irish must beat Minnesota-Duluth. From there, the Irish would take on the Wolverines of Michigan or Fighting Sioux of North Dakota, two schools that hold winning records against the Irish this season.

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