Notre Dame-Michigan matchup moves to ice
CINCINNATI — Michigan vs. Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament, Round II. This time, on ice.
A week after the Irish knocked off the Wolverines in the men's basketball tournament, the long-time rivals are going at it again, this time with a berth in the Frozen Four on the line. Michigan (24-7-5) faces Notre Dame (19-10-7) in a Midwest Regional semifinal on Friday.
Top-seeded Northeastern (22-13-5) plays North Dakota (30-6-4) in the other semifinal.
Like most things Michigan-Notre Dame, this matchup comes with a whole lot of history.
It'll be the 134th time since 1923 that they've played. They've met in the NCAA Tournament only once before, with the Irish winning 5-4 in overtime in a Frozen Four semifinal in 2008. They haven't played since March 24, 2013, when Notre Dame won 3-1 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association title game.
"It's a very intense rivalry," Michigan forward Justin Selman said. "I know a lot of students are supporting us at school, having just seen the basketball loss. We have a sour taste in our mouths with the way those games went (in 2013). So it's definitely still a rivalry that's deep within us."
Notre Dame went 5-0 against the Wolverines during the 2012-13 season, then spent the last three years in the Hockey East Association, putting the rivalry on hold until their high-stakes rematch.
"Obviously, there's more at stake playing Michigan in this type of game," Notre Dame senior Thomas DiPauli said.
Five things to watch in the Midwest Regional:
Arena history: U.S. Bank Arena — formerly Riverfront Coliseum — is fond to a couple of the teams in the regional. Michigan coach Red Berenson won the first of his two national championships when the arena hosted the Frozen Four in 1996, beating Boston University and Colorado College. The Wolverines are back in the tournament in a familiar place.
"It's been a few years since we've been here," Berenson said. "It's good to be back at the podium."
Also, North Dakota was a No. 4 seed at the arena in the 2014 regional and beat Wisconsin and Ferris State in double overtime to reach the Frozen Four.
"It was a pretty special time for us," senior co-captain Bryn Chyzyk said. "We snuck in on the last day — the last team in the tournament. There were good memories for us. Right now we've just got to create more memories."
Filling the net: Michigan leads the nation with 4.89 goals per game. No Division I team has averaged more than 4.6 goals since New Hampshire came in at 4.6 in 2001-02. The last team to average more than 5 goals was Quinnipiac, which scored 5.42 goals per game in 1999-00.
Bad trend: While Michigan has been lighting it up, Notre Dame has lost five of its last six games while scoring two or fewer goals five times. The Irish are in trouble if they get down by very much.
"They're dynamic, no question about it," ND coach Jeff Jackson said. "But we've played against some pretty good lines this year — maybe not to this caliber."
Hottest team on ice: Northeastern went 13-0-1 down the stretch and 20-1-2 since Dec. 19, the best such streak by any team in the country. The Huskies' 14-game unbeaten streak is the longest such streak in school history. Everything came together after a 1-11-2 start that had coach Jim Madigan telling his team it had everything it needed for a huge turnaround.
"When we had the bad record, coach kept telling us don't look at the record, we're a great team," freshman goaltender Ryan Ruck said.
Youngsters: North Dakota won its second straight Penrose Cup as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's regular season champion with the help of two underclassmen. Brock Boeser (25 goals, 26 assists) was the conference's rookie of the year. Sophomore Cam Johnson allowed 1.64 goals, second-best in the country.
WHO: Michigan (24-7-5) vs. Notre Dame (19-10-7).
WHERE: U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Oh.
WHEN: Friday, 5:30
RADIO: WHFB (99.9 FM)