Frozen Four Notebook: UMD-Notre Dame
by Justin Magill/CHN Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. It was 27 years ago when Minnesota-Duluth last advanced to the finals of the Frozen Four. The Bulldogs beat North Dakota to advance, and the current UMD bench boss, Scott Sandelin, was part of that Fighting Sioux squad.
"I remember '84," Sandelin said. "I was there."
With a 4-3 win against Notre Dame, Minnesota-Duluth will have a chance to make history once again if its WCHA rival North Dakota advances.
A berth to the finals did not look good at the start. Jeff Costello scored just 49 seconds into the game to give the Irish an early lead.
The Bulldogs were able to recover, tie the game and move on thanks to a power play that was 3-for-6 in the game compared Notre Dame's 0-for-5.
"I don’t like spotting teams one-goal leads," Sandelin said. "We won parts of the game you're supposed to."
Calle Ridderwall made the third period interesting when he scored just 2 minutes, 5 seconds in to pull Notre Dame within one.
After, the Irish continued to dominate the period, outshooting Minnesota-Duluth 15-2 and 34-21 for the game. Notre Dame had not played a great second period but responded well after a strict talk from its coach.
"Our youth showed a little," Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. "I gave it to them after the second."
Minnesota-Duluth showed some nerves to open the game and was in a hole less than a minute in, but Sandelin said being nervous is perfectly normal.
"If you don't have nerves, you're not human," he said.
Those will have to be calmed on Saturday when the Bulldogs will take aim at their first hockey national championship in school history.
(Home) State of Hockey
For many players participating in the Frozen Four, Minnesota is a place where they call home.
Justin Faulk of Minnesota-Duluth played his high school hockey in South St. Paul, Minn, minutes away from the Xcel Energy Center.
"Couldn't ask for a better location," Faulk said.
Notable players on the Irish team from Minnesota are assistant captain Ryan Guentzel, who had two assists in the semifinal game.
Guentzel attended Hill-Murray School, a private high school in the Twin Cities.
He was part of a family that was spread out over the country for the NCAA tournament. His brother Gabe played for Colorado College in the West Regional, which lost to Michigan. Ryan's father, Mike, an assistant at Nebraska-Omaha, also fell to the Wolverines in this NCAA tournament.
Anders Lee, a standout freshman for the Irish played his prep hockey at state power Edina.
There were a total of 26 penalties called, 14 on Notre Dame and 12 on Minnesota-Duluth.
Some may have been ticky-tack, but the calls were consistent for most of the game.
Jackson said the way the game was called was noticeably different than what what the Irish saw last week in the Northeast Regional.
"I thought it was much different officiating," he said. "I mean, we had WCHA officials in the East, and I thought it was much different officiating. Ant that's what the kids don't totally understand. I'm not critical of the officiating. I'm just saying it was different."
Of all the Frozen Four's that have been played, a regulation score of 4-3 has in fact been fairly uncommon. The last instance was in 1979, when Minnesota beat New Hampshire in the semifinals in Detroit.
Minnesota went on to win the national title, the third in program history.
What is common is an All-WCHA final. If North Dakota beats Michigan in the second semifinal, that would mark the 21st time that WCHA teams consumed the finals.
The last time the WCHA boasted two teams in the national championship game was in 2005, when Denver and North Dakota battled for the crown.
When asked if he had a team he would rather play in the finals, UMD head coach Scott Sandelin laughed it off.
"No," he said. "I'm a WCHA, so I will leave it at that."
South Bend Seniors
It was a special group of seniors for the Irish hockey team this season.
The Fighting Irish have only been to two Frozen Fours in the program's history — and both squads featured the 2010-11 senior class.
Notre Dame advanced to the Frozen Four championship game in 2008 but lost to Boston College 4-1 in Denver.
"It's special being in the Frozen Four," Ridderwall said. "Especially when it's never been done before in a program.
"So this year is special. I'm extremely proud of the team we have. Weren't expected to do much and then guys showed day in and day out they're great hockey players."