April 13, 2008
DENVER - Notre Dame was venturing into uncharted territory as it took the ice at Denver's Pepsi Center for Saturday's NCAA Frozen Four national championship game against Boston College. And while the final result might not have been what the Irish had in mind, it's clear Notre Dame is going to be a major player on the college hockey scene for years to come.
Sophomore center Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) scored his second goal of the Frozen Four, but it wasn't enough as the fifth-ranked Irish lost to the No. 3-ranked Eagles, 4-1 in the NCAA title game on Saturday. Notre Dame was making its first NCAA Frozen Four title game appearance (the first fourth seed ever to reach the Frozen Four, let alone the championship game), and was seeking to be the first Irish team to win an NCAA title since the 2005 fencing squad (combined crown).
Both teams had chances in a tightly-played first period that led to the fourth scoreless opening frame in NCAA title game history (also 1968, 2001 and 2007). BC (25-11-8) ended up with a 7-4 shot advantage in the opening 20 minutes, while Notre Dame (27-16-4) went on the power play three times in the period, coming up empty on its first two man advantages, while the third rolled into the second period. Junior left wing Garrett Regan (Hastings, Minn.) had two of the best looks for the Irish in the early going, breaking into the offensive zone and snapping a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that was stopped by BC goaltender John Muse at 8:21 of the first period. Junior center Christian Hanson (Venetia, Pa.) tried to go short side from below the right faceoff circle moments later, forcing Muse to hug the post and make the save.
Boston College broke the scoreless deadlock at 2:23 of the second period, thanks to an aggressive forecheck. Ben Smith sent the puck in deep, Brian Gibbons forced a turnover and collected the loose puck behind the Notre Dame net. He then found Nathan Gerbe, who whipped a shot from just inside the left faceoff circle high over the left shoulder of Irish junior goaltender Jordan Pearce (Anchorage, Alaska).
Gerbe struck again a little more than three minutes later, this time on the BC power play. After sophomore left wing Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) was sent off for interference, the Eagles converted as Smith's one-timer from the slot was wide but rebounded off the back dasher into the crease and Gerbe was there at the right post to stuff home the loose puck at 5:37 for his second goal of the night. Dan Bertram was given the secondary assist on the goal.
BC scored again on the power play at 8:11, this time with a 4-on-3 advantage. Joe Whitney gathered the puck at the top of the slot and his slap shot got through traffic and past Pearce for a 3-0 Eagles lead. Gerbe and Benn Ferriero were credited with assists on the goal.
Notre Dame got on the board less than a minute later at 9:07. With the teams skating at four a side after the first of two Irish penalties released, sophomore defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) broke in over the blue line and found Deeth cutting down the left side. Deeth took the pass from his classmate and fired a wrist shot over Muse's glove inside the right post for his 11th goal of the season. Freshman defenseman Ian Cole (Ann Arbor, Mich.) earned the secondary assist on the score.
The Irish appeared to cut the margin to 3-2 at the 4:56 mark of the third period, when Cole's centering pass got caught up in Lawson's skates on the back post and the Notre Dame defenseman reached out to nudge the puck as it trickled across the goal line. Although it was ruled a goal on the ice by referee Todd Anderson, video replay official Greg Shepherd overturned the score after a length delay, ruling that the puck was apparently propelled into the net by Lawson's skate in a distinct kicking motion.
The no-goal call took on added significance less than a minute later when Boston College scored to make it a 4-1 game. Gerbe tracked down the puck behind the net and threw a centering pass back in front for Smith, who fanned on his shot attempt but got enough of the rubber to knuckle it over Pearce's shoulder at 5:31 of the period. Gibbons was given the secondary assist on the goal.
Pearce made 19 saves in goal, finishing with a 24-15-4 record this season. Muse turned aside 20 shots in the BC net, ending his rookie year at 25-11-8.
NCAA Frozen Four National Championship Game
ND (27-16-4) 0 1 0 -- 1
First Period: No scoring.
Second Period: BC: Nathan Gerbe 34 (Brian Gibbons, Ben Smith), 2:23; BC: Gerbe 35 (Smith, Dan Bertram), PPG, 5:37; BC: Joe Whitney 11 (Gerbe, Benn Ferriero), PPG, 8:11; ND: Kevin Deeth 11 (Kyle Lawson, Ian Cole), 9:07.
Third Period: BC: Smith 25 (Gerbe, Gibbons) 5:31.
Shots on Goal
Attendance: 18,632 (sellout)