Notre Dame hockey team gets Michigan Tech in NCAA opener
SOUTH BEND — Fresh off their 3-2 overtime win over Ohio State to clinch the Big Ten Tournament Championship Saturday night, Notre Dame learned Sunday afternoon it will be the No. 1 seed in the East Regional and will play Michigan Tech (22-16-5) at 3 p.m. Friday in Bridgeport, Conn.
The game will be televised on ESPN2.
"Hey, when you get to the NCAA Tournament, first of all it's a great accomplishment for these guys,'' Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said. "Most importantly, we've got to recognize that in this tournament anything can happen. Last year we were a No. 4 seed and knocked off the top seed (3-2 win over Minnesota) ...''
"That's how close it is. It's like the Sweet 16 in basketball,'' Jackson added about the number of teams selected to the tournament. "If you just picked the top 16 (in basketball) to start with, you know how tough a tournament you'd have. That's what college hockey is all about.''
Michigan Tech earned an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament by defeating Northern Michigan, 2-0, to clinch the Western Conference Hockey Association's tournament title on Saturday. The Huskies were in the NCAA Tournament last year, also getting in by winning the WCHA tournament. However, the Huskies lost in their first round match against eventual champion Denver, 5-2.
The Irish (25-9-2) are considered the No. 2 seed in the overall tournament, behind St. Cloud State (25-8-6), and ahead of Cornell (25-5-2) and Ohio State (24-9-5).
The winner of Notre Dame/Michigan Tech on Friday will take on the winner of Providence (23-11-4) and Clarkson (23-10-6) on Saturday at 6 in Bridgeport. Providence and Clarkson meet Friday after the Notre Dame/Michigan Tech game. The game will be televised on ESPNU. From there, it's on to Saint Paul, Minn. for the Frozen Four, for the winner, which starts April 5 at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Irish are led by Cale Morris who was named the Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year and joined captain Jake Evans and defenseman Jordan Gross on the Big Ten first team prior to the playoffs. The sophomore from Lakespur, Colo., has a 1.93 GAA and a .946 save percentage in 32 games played. He was named a top 10 finalist for college hockey's biggest individual award: the Hobey Baker Award. The final three nominees will be announced on March 29 and the winner will be given the award in between the semifinals and finals of the Frozen Four on April 6.
If the Irish make it to the semifinals, their opponent will be the winner of the Northeast bracket: No. 3 overall seed Cornell (25-5-2), Boston University (21-13-4), Michigan (20-14-3) or Northeastern (23-9-5). Those games will take place in Worcester, Mass., starting on Saturday, with Cornell/Boston U. meeting at 1 p.m. and Michigan/Northeastern following at 4:30 p.m. Both games will be on ESPNews.