How Notre Dame matches up with North Dakota in first round of NCAA Hockey Tournament
Who: No. 3-seed Notre Dame (27-11-0) vs. No. 2-seed North Dakota (24-13-1)
What: NCAA Tournament first-round regional game
When: Thursday at 6 p.m. EDT
Where: MVP Arena (14,326), Albany, New York
Radio: WZOC-FM (94.3) and UND.com
Recaps: Coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish have been idle since March 12 when they lost 2-1 at Michigan in Big Ten Tournament semifinal. … Coach Brad Berry’s Fighting Hawks are coming off 4-2 loss to Western Michigan on March 18 in NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) Tournament semifinal at Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Road to Boston: Winner will play the winner of Friday’s 12 p.m. game between No. 1-seed Minnesota State (35-5-0) and No. 4-seed Harvard (21-10-3) in Saturday’s championship game at 4 p.m. for the right to advance to NCAA Frozen Four April 7 and 9 in TD Garden.
Remembrances: This is Notre Dame’s 13th NCAA Tournament appearance and 12th under Jackson, who has guided Irish to Frozen Four appearances in 2008 (runner-up to Boston College), 2011, 2017 and 2018 (runner-up to Minnesota Duluth). … It’s the 34th NCAA appearance for North Dakota, which has reached 22 Frozen Fours and won eight titles (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000, 2016).
Rivalry: Teams have never met during the NCAA Tournament. … They have met 37 times previously and each has won 17 games with three others ending in ties. … Notre Dame won first game during its inaugural season in Western Collegiate Hockey Association, beating North Dakota 6-5 in overtime at the Joyce Center on Jan. 22, 1971. … In last meetings at Compton Family Ice Arena, North Dakota won 2-1 Nov. 23 and Notre Dame won 5-2 on Nov. 24, 2012.
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Scouting Fighting Irish: Notre Dame has 17 players with 10 or more points – the most by any of the 16 teams in the field – and seven of them have scored 23 or more points lead by junior right wing Max Ellis, who has 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points. … But Ellis has no goals and just two assists in last 11 games. … A point behind Ellis are senior defenseman Spencer Stastney (7-20-27) and sophomore right wing Ryder Rolston (10-17-27) followed by senior defenseman Nick Leivermann (6-20-26). … Grad-transfer (from Connecticut) defenseman Adam Karashik has blocked 90 shots followed by Stastney’s 67, freshman defenseman Jake Boltmann’s 53 and Leivermann’s 43. … They are big reason why Irish are second in penalty-kill percentage at 0.904, allowing just 13 goals in 136 enemy power plays. … Irish have seven shorthanded goals, two each by Ellis, Stastney and senior Cal Burke. … Led by senior Jake Pivonka’s 0.599 and Burke’s 0.584, Notre Dame is eighth nationally in faceoff-win percentage at 0.538.
Scouting Fighting Hawks: Sophomore left wing Riese Gaber (15-22-37) leads team in scoring and in power-play goals with seven. … Gaber, grad-transfer (Bowling Green) center Connor Ford (4-24-28) and junior right wing Judd Caulfield (11-9-20) make up North Dakota’s top line. … Junior Ethan Frisch, who won NCHC defensive defenseman award, has scored nine goals, six on power plays. … Frisch also leads team with 58 blocked shots. … Fifth-year senior goaltender Zach Driscoll is a transfer from Bemidji State and is 10-2-1 with 1.80 goals-against average and .936 save percentage since Jan. 29. … North Dakota is third nationally in faceoff-win percentage at 0.555 led by Ford, who leads nation at 0.624 with 572 wins. … Sophomore defenseman Jake Sanderson (8-18-26), the fifth overall pick in 2020 NHL Draft by Ottawa, has played in just 23 of North Dakota’s 38 games and did not play in NCHC semifinal loss to Western Michigan. … North Dakota’s regulars have missed 84 games with injuries this season. … But in its last 11 games, North Dakota won nine times, including seven one-goal games, to share the Penrose Cup with Denver as NCHC regular-season champions.
– John Fineran, Tribune Correspondent