March 31, 2017
By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- As hosts, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey program was always going to be involved in the 2017 Frozen Four in some capacity. But a strong second semester push against a challenging schedule and then a pair of comeback wins at the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional ensured the best kind of Irish involvement: a national semifinal game appearance.
The No. 4 seeded Irish will meet No. 1 seed (and first overall seed) Denver at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday night (April 6) in the second NCAA semifinal game at the United Center in Chicago.
Notre Dame is the first host school to advance to the Frozen Four since 2006 when Wisconsin hosted at Bradley in Milwaukee. The Badgers went on to win the 2006 NCAA Championship.
The Irish advanced to the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four by defeating UMass Lowell in overtime, 3-2, on March 26 at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire in the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional Final.
Sophomore forward Andrew Oglevie, who is in the midst of a breakout offensive season for the Irish, provided the overtime heroics with his 21st goal of the season, scored at 2:44 of the first overtime. It was Notre Dame's first overtime win since Jake Evans scored the game winner to defeat Miami 3-2 on December 28, 2014, in the first round of the Florida College Hockey Classic in Estero, Florida.
At the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional, the Irish erased deficits against both No. 1 seed Minnesota and No. 2 seed UMass Lowell to post back-to-back 3-2 victories. In 2017's 12 regional semifinal and regional final games, Notre Dame was the only team to trail in the second period or later and post a win.
Anders Bjork scored a pair of goals against the Gophers, including the game winner, and then had the primary assist on all three goals in the NCAA Regional Final win over the River Hawks. A Top Ten finalist for the Hobey Baker award, he was voted the NCAA East Regional's Most Outstanding Player and was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
GAME 40 -- NCAA Championship Semifinal
Matchup: No. 4 seed Notre Dame vs. No. 1 seed Denver
Date: Thursday, April 6
Time: 9:30 p.m. (ET)
Arena: United Center
Play-By-Play: John Buccigross
Analyst: Barry Melrose
Reporter: Quint Kessenich
Live Streaming: WatchESPN
Live Radio: WZOC 94.3 FM
Play-by-Play: Darin Pritchett
Live Radio: Westwood One | Sirius/XM 84
Talent: Alex Faust, Colby Cohen & Shireen Saski
Live Updates: @NDHockey
Series History: Denver leads, 35-10-5 (50 games)
- Notre Dame will be playing in the Frozen Four for the third time in the last 10 years.
- The only other schools that can make that claim are North Dakota (5) and Boston College (5).
- The Irish have now reached the Frozen Four three times in school history (2008, 2011 and 2017), all under head coach Jeff Jackson.
- Junior goaltender Cal Petersen has started 89 consecutive games in the Irish net dating back to a 5-1 win over Maine on Feb. 7, 2015. It is the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history (men's DI).
- Notre Dame is out-scoring opponents 52-28 (+24) in third periods this season. The 52 third-period goals are tied for the fourth-most in the country.
- Anders Bjork has seven points in three career NCAA Championship games on three goals and four assists. He was named the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional's Most Outstanding Player.
- Notre Dame is playing in the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive season, the fourth time in the last five years and the ninth time in program history.
- It marks the eighth NCAA Championship appearance by the Irish under head coach Jeff Jackson.
- Former WCHA opponents from 1971-81, Denver and Notre Dame have played 50 times before meeting in the 2017 Frozen Four.
- The teams played to a pair of overtime ties last season, ringing in the new year with a 1-1 tie on Jan. 1, followed by a 2-2 tie on Jan. 2.
- Irish goaltender Cal Petersen was the de facto MVP of that series as he posted a 1.40 goals against average to go along with an impressive .968 save percentage (stopped 92 of 95 shots faced).
- Prior to last season, the teams had not met since a 5-2 Denver win on Oct. 11, 2008 in the Hall of Fame Game (Denver, Colorado).
- On December 8, 1972 the two teams played at Chicago Stadium, with the Pioneers posting a 5-2 win on that day (the Irish rebounded with an 8-6 home win the following night).
- It marked the only previous neutral site meeting between the two teams.
Denver head coach Jim Montgomery's first college coaching job was as Jeff Jackson's volunteer assistant coach in 2005-06 (Jackson's first year with the Irish).
- Jackson's Lake Superior State team won NCAA titles in 1992 and 1994, but was denied in the 1993 title game when Montgomery scored a hat trick against his future boss to lead Maine past the Lakers.
Dan Colleran, associate athletics communications director at the University
of Notre Dame, has been a part of Fighting Irish Media since August 2015
and coordinates all media and publicity efforts surrounding the Notre Dame
hockey and golf programs. A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, Colleran
spent the previous three years working with the men's hockey and soccer
programs at Providence College. Colleran also spent two years as an
Assistant Executive Director of Communications & Championships at the
Ivy League and is a graduate of Providence College ('06 & '08G).