BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Second-ranked Notre Dame’s Cardiac Kids, who have saved their best hockey for the last seconds of regulation and two overtimes the last three weekends, are headed back to the Frozen Four for a second straight year thanks to an opportunistic goal by a junior left wing from Edina, Minn., a few miles from this year’s championship site in Saint Paul.
Dylan Malmquist took a feed from right wing Cal Burke and wristed the game-winner past goalie Hayden Hawkey at 19:33 of the third period Saturday night to give the Irish a 2-1 victory over seventh-ranked Providence in the NCAA East Regional championship game at the Webster Bank Arena.
The semifinal opponent for coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish at Saint Paul’s Xcel Energy Center on April 5 will be Big Ten rival Michigan (9:30 p.m. EDT), which beat Boston University, 6-3, Sunday at Worcester, Mass.
Ohio State and Minnesota-Duluth meet in the 6 p.m. semifinal, with the survivors advancing to the title game on April 7.
“They call them the Cardiac Kids for a reason,” the 62-year-old Jackson said. “Hopefully it’s not my cardiac, but they find a way to win. Regardless of the situation, they find a way to win. I’m extremely proud of our guys. They’ve been resilient all year long.”
Junior center Andrew Oglevie, who had the game-tying goal in the second period for Notre Dame, started the play when he picked up a loose puck in the corner and passed the puck behind the Providence net to an unguarded Burke, whose speed and stickhandling ability had carried the puck into the Friars’ defensive zone as the final seconds of the clock seemed to be ticking toward a second straight overtime ending for Jackson’s 13th Irish team.
But Malmquist’s ninth goal of the season instead sends Notre Dame (27-9-2) to its fourth Frozen Four appearance under Jackson.
Last season, the Irish went to the Frozen Four at Chicago’s United Center and dropped a 6-1 semifinal decision to eventual NCAA champion Denver.
"Our game plan the whole night was just to chip pucks by them,” Malmquist said. “Burke went in and chipped it by him. Oggs (Oglevie) had a great first touch behind the net. Burke made an incredible pass to me in the slot and I was lucky enough to get a stick on it and put it in the back of the net.”
Coach Nate Leaman’s Providence team, seeking a return to the NCAA Frozen Four after winning it all in 2015, ended its season at 24-12-4.
“This stings; we had our chances,” Leaman said before saluting Notre Dame. “They have a veteran defensive corps. They transition so well as a team. They move the puck well. The Big Ten is a really good league and Notre Dame is the regular-season and tournament champion. Hats off to them.”
The Friars didn’t go easily, opening the scoring at 2:02 of the first period on a goal by Kasper Björkqvist, who had provided the Friars their only goal in Friday’s 1-0 first-round victory over Clarkson.
The 5-10, 181-pound Oglevie tied the game at 18:09 of the second period when his wrist shot from the slot beat the 6-foot-2 Hawkey, who would finish with 23 saves.
Notre Dame sophomore goalie Cale Morris, a finalist for both the Hobey Baker (outstanding player) and Mike Richter (outstanding goalie) postseason awards, had a relatively easy night for himself, turning aside 19 Providence shots as the Irish outshot an opponent for only the 13th time this season, this time by a 25-20 margin. Notre Dame also won the faceoff battle, 30-28, and is now 13-3 in one-goal games.
So, Notre Dame’s Cinderella season, which includes a school-record 16-game winning streak, continues, and the last three weekends have provided some memorable chapters.
Jack Jenkins’ goal with 30.5 seconds remaining in regulation March 10 gave Notre Dame, the regular-season Big Ten champions, a 3-2 victory over Penn State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. Then on March 17, Cam Morrison’s overtime goal at 9:23 provided the Irish a 3-2 victory over Ohio State in the tournament championship game on the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena.
That was followed by Friday’s 4-3 victory won by defenseman Jordan Gross’ second goal of the game at 16:24 in overtime.
Saturday’s game was just in its second minute when Providence defenseman Tommy Davis carried the puck deep into the Irish zone to Morris’ left. As he went unchecked around the net, Davis flicked the puck into the Irish crease and Björkqvist came flying off the bench to poke the puck home for his 16th goal of the season.
The first 16 minutes of the second period were a defensive battle, with each team managing five shots on goal. But then Providence’s Ryan Tait was called for goalie interference when he skated into Morris at 16:38 and the Irish got the equalizer with great puck possession.
Irish defensemen Gross and Bobby Nardella kept control at the point, while Oglevie, Jake Evans and Cam Morrison tried to distract the 6-foot-2 Hawkey. Evans was denied twice, the second time after a great feed from Morrison, who was to Hawkey’s left and received a pass from Nardella. The Friars’ goalie then stopped a shot by Oglevie, but his defense was unable to clear the puck.
Gross finally fed Evans, whose shot was blocked by defenseman Ben Mirageas. But Oglevie gathered the rebound in the slot with his back to Hawkey, turned and fired the puck into the net at 18:09 to tie it at 1-1. It was his 13th goal of the season, with the assists going to Gross and Evans, whose helper was his 31st of the season.
The goal seemed to wake up both teams, and each goalie had to be alert until the second-period final horn. Hawkey stopped a close-in try by Notre Dame’s Cal Burke and then Morris denied Scott Conway and Tait before Theisen was stopped by Hawkey in the final seconds and Evans just missed getting to the rebound.
The Irish still had the momentum in the third period when Providence’s Vimal Sukumaran was whistled off for holding Oglevie’s stick at 8:55. But Notre Dame looked a little tired midway through the man-advantage, and Providence actually got a 2-on-1 chance in the Irish zone that was broken up by the skate of Nardella. Morris then stopped a backhander by Tait before the Irish got their best chance of the power play when Andrew Peeke fed a cross-ice pass to Joe Wegwerth, who fired it just wide.
In the 15th minute of the period, Oglevie stole the puck and fed Burke, who was turned aside by Hawkey. The Friars goalie then stopped Oglevie on the rebound. Then it was Morris’ turn to keep the game deadlocked at 1-1 and he did by stopping Jacob Bryson’s rebound after his first shot was blocked by Nardella.
But Oglevie, Burke and Malmquist, the Edina Kid, eventually ended things in Bridgeport and sent the Irish back home with another regional title and hopes of their first national championship with two more victories in Saint Paul.