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Notre Dame Will Play Minnesota-Duluth For The National Championship On Saturday

WOW. Two unbelievable hockey games to kick off the Frozen Four in St. Paul this weekend. Minnesota-Duluth beating Ohio State 2-1 in game one. Followed by an unbelievable last second 4-3 win for Notre Dame over Michigan in game two. And while the hockey on display was great to watch, whoever the dumbass who scheduled a semifinal game for 9:45 on a Thursday night is a complete moron. But overall, great opening round to the Frozen Four.

Game one was won in the first 3 minutes of the game. Minnesota Duluth scored two quick goals on Ohio State early, going up 2-0 in the first 3:04 of the game. Freshman Louie Roehl got the scoring started for Duluth, when he put one upstairs on Ohio State tendy Sean Romeo. Duluth really set the tone when just over a minute later, Jared Thomas forces a turnover and is sent on a break away to give UMD the 2-0 and set the Xcel Energy Arena on fire. Place was essentially a Duluth home game.

Ohio State made a late push for a comeback in the 3rd period, when Tanner Laczynski put one shelf to cut the lead in half, but Ohio State wouldn’t score another goal and would go on to lose. UMD really dominated this game from start to finish. They came in with the perfect game plan, play physical, especially with the talented group of forwards Ohio State has. They also set the tone early, obviously scoring two goals in the first 3 minutes is the definition of setting the tone early. But they did more than just score goals early in this game. They bullied Ohio State. They showed the Buckeyes that they weren’t just going to allow them to come into their state and take a National Championship away from them.

Game two was unbelievable. One of the best college hockey games I have seen in some time. Michigan jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Notre Dame with goals from Tony Calderone and Dexter Dancs. Notre Dame, was not going down easy though, Andrew Oglevie scored on the PP to cut the lead to 1, then Jake Evans tied it during some 4×4 play. Notre Dame would score 3 unanswered, adding the next goal as well, Cal Burke gave the Irish the 3-2 lead early in the 3rd.

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Michigan now the team playing from behind, gets one from Michael Pastujov to tie the game late in the 3rd. But it was Irish Captain Jake Evans once again who was the hero, scoring the goal of the season in college hockey, banging home the Cam Morrisson pass with 5 seconds remaining to give the Irish the win and to punch their ticket to the National Championship. Notre Dame has two game winning goals in the finals 10 seconds of the tournament this season. Absolute insanity.

Unbelievable. What a way to end it. And just like that the National Championship is set. It’s going to be Minnesota-Duluth vs Notre Dame. The Bulldogs are back in the national championship for the 2nd straight year and looking for their first natty win since 2011. Notre Dame on the other hand, has never won a national championship in hockey. So the Irish will be looking to claim the programs first national title win on Saturday night.

It’s going to be a complete electric factory at the Xcel Energy Center. Duluth will basically be playing a home game, so the Irish need to prepare for probably the loudest, craziest  game they have played all season. Duluth clearly had a home ice advantage against Michigan, who has a fan base that traveled pretty well. Notre Dame fans travel well too, but again, Minnesota-Duluth is playing a game in their home state. There is zero question they will have a home ice advantage.

One of the biggest keys to the game will be keeping Notre Dame off the power play. As we saw against Michigan, you do not want to see that loaded PP unit on the ice as an opposing player. With one of the best power play’s in the country, Notre Dame needs to capitalize on any and every opportunity they get with the extra man.

For UMD, I think it really comes down to the play of their young guys. Scott Perunovich has been unbelievable so far. The NCHC rookie of the year lit it up this season, leading the Bulldogs in points (11g, 25a, 36p) and has been an instrumental piece in the Bulldogs tournament run. The kid is playing himself into a decent pay day too, with each game that passes Perunovich draft stock keeps rising.

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I’ll go more in depth with a blog on Saturday previewing this national championship game, but all signs point to this being an absolute barn burner.