Minnesota Duluth plays 10th one-goal NCAA tournament game in row

07 April, 2018, 00:36 | Author: Darren Santiago
  • Assistant coach Brian Wiseman is on the far left and assistant coach Bill Muckalt is on the far right. Hunter Dyke | The Ann Arb

Notre Dame faces Minnesota-Duluth for the national championship Saturday at 7:30 PM ET.

The Fighting Irish should send a big thank you to Minnesota for helping them stay alive. As the players were dismissed from the press conference, the first-year MI head coach stood up and walked his players to the steps on the right side of the stage, giving them both hugs and words of encouragement as they went back to the locker room.

Only Notre Dame, Michigan's arch rival, stands in the way.

Irish freshman forward Collin Theisen wins control of the puck during Notre Dame's 4-2 victory over Wisconsin on January 19 at Purcell Pavilion.

Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State all represented the Big Ten, guaranteeing the conference a berth in Saturday's National Championship. Sophomore forward Cam Morrison scored the game-winning goal in overtime.

The 21-year-old centerman and senior captain also picked up an assist in the win, which will afford Notre Dame the opportunity to play for a national crown for the first time since 2008, when they fell to Boston College. Notre Dame came back from early deficits in both games.

The stage for the Frozen Four is different though.

Shortly after falling behind two goals, the Irish went on their second power play of the night. Jared Thomas then converted a wide-open breakaway less than two minutes later to make it 2-0.

Ninety seconds into the final period of play, Notre Dame won a face-off in the defensive zone and took it coast to coast.

Jackson said he knows the challenge MI will present to his team Thursday.

"Honestly, I knew it was coming close to the end", Evans said. "It's the sign of a team that's gaining confidence". "The doctors told me they're happy with where I am". They play a real solid game defensively and they transition well, so they're a pretty talented team top to bottom.

Three of the four teams have goaltenders that previously played in the NAHL. Freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes drove down the ice with electric dangles and delivered a pass through the crease that just missed its mark.

Good goal? His teammates would say "big" is a better word for that play, and even that may be an understatement.

-Irish junior defenseman Dennis Gilbert added, "The only people that might get nervous are the coaches".

"I don't think we have to worry about calming anyone down as much as we just keep everyone positive". Those two guys have been instrumental in our success. "The physical impact he had in that game set a tone for our team".

Before Thursday's win, Minnesota Duluth had lost games to Denver and North Dakota on March 16 and 17, respectively, in the Frozen Faceoff, its league tournament's semifinals, in the same arena that hosted the Frozen Four. Despite the momentum boost, the Fighting Irish were in a good spot going into the third and didn't waste time proving it. They got a couple of teams in a year ago. This will be their fourth title-game appearance in six trips to the Frozen Four. A MI forward did a great job screening Morris on the shot, making it hard for him to locate the puck.

It appeared the game would head to overtime, but that hope was dashed by Evans' goal essentially at the buzzer.

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