No NCAA tournament berth for Notre Dame hockey

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame’s bid for a seventh straight NCAA hockey tournament appearance came to an end Sunday evening when the 16-team bracket was announced. The 20th-ranked Fighting Irish were not among the teams, officially ending their 2022-23 season at 16-16-5.

Notre Dame’s 4-2 loss on March 5 to visiting Michigan State in the third game of the best-of-three, first-round Big Ten Tournament series thus concluded the season. Coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish, who were offensively challenged most of the season but were steadied by Big Ten goaltender of the year Ryan Bischel, rallied late in February to clinch fourth place in the regular season. Bischel, a senior, earned his fifth shutout of the season in a 1-0 victory over the Spartans to start the playoffs March 3, but Michigan State won the final two games by 4-2 margins.

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The NCAA tournament absence for Notre Dame was not unexpected by Jackson and his team which has been on spring break. During that time, junior forward Ryder Rolston, recovering from surgery for a broken collarbone suffered in late January against Wisconsin, signed an entry-level pro contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Senior forward Jesse Lansdell announced his intentions to continue his hockey career by entering the transfer portal, according to Rink Live, and Sunday Notre Dame announced that senior Solag Bakich will report to the Reading Royals of the ECHL on an amateur tryout basis.

The string of six straight tournament appearances for Jackson’s program began with the 2015-16 season. The streak included consecutive Frozen Four appearances in 2017 (Chicago) and 2018 in Saint Paul where the Irish lost 2-1 to Minnesota Duluth in the championship game. The 2020 NCAA tournament was not played because of the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving the appearance streak intact. Notre Dame received a 2021 tournament bid, but its first-round matchup against Boston College was vacated by positive COVID-19 tests.

The top 14 teams in this year’s PairWise Rankings after games played Saturday, March 18 received berths in this year’s tournament which begins Thursday with regionals in Fargo, N.D., and Manchester, N.H., and Friday with regionals in Bridgeport, Conn., and Allentown, Pa. The four regional winners will advance to the Frozen Four April 6 and 8 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.

The two other tournament berths were grabbed by postseason tournament championship teams Colgate (ECAC, 19-15-5, PairWise No. 25) and Canisius (Atlantic Hockey Association, 20-18-3, PairWise No. 41). They knocked out other tournament hopefuls in Alaska (22-10-2, PairWise No. 15) and Michigan State (18-18-2, PairWise No. 16). Notre Dame, which split a pair of home games with Alaska while playing the nation’s toughest schedule, had a final PairWise Ranking of 17.

Big Ten regular-season champion Minnesota (26-9-1) is the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed and will begin play Thursday at Fargo against Canisius. Michigan (24-11-3), which beat the Golden Gophers 4-3 in the Big Ten Postseason Championship at Minneapolis last Saturday, received the tournament’s No. 3 overall seed and begins regional play in Allentown where it will be joined by regional team host Penn State (21-15-1). 

A fourth Big Ten team, Ohio State (20-15-3), received a tournament bid to the Bridgeport regional where nearby Quinnipiac (30-4-3), the ECAC regular-season champion, was sent after receiving the tournament’s No. 2 overall seed. At-large team Denver (30-9-0), the NCHC regular-season champion, begins defense of its 2022 NCAA title in the Manchester regional Thursday as the tournament’s No. 4 overall seed.

Jackson and long-time associate head coaches Paul Pooley and Andy Slaggert will now focus on constructing Notre Dame’s 2023-24 roster. Lansdell and Bakich were among 10 seniors and graduate students on this season’s roster who had an additional season of eligibility added because of the pandemic. Notre Dame has commitments from five incoming players and could also visit the transfer portal to fill its needs for next season.


All times are Eastern Daylight Time


Thursday, March 23

(1/1 overall) Minnesota (Big Ten at-large) (26-9-1) vs. (4) Canisius (Atlantic Hockey champion) (20-18-3), 9 p.m.  (ESPN2)

(2) St. Cloud State (NCHC champion) (24-12-3) vs. (3) Minnesota State (CCHA champion) (25-12-1), 5 p.m. (ESPNU)

Saturday, March 25

Minnesota-Canisius winner vs. St. Cloud State-Minnesota State winner, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)


Thursday, March 23

(1/4 overall) Denver (NCHC at-large) (30-9-0) vs. (4) Cornell (ECAC at-large) (20-10-2), 5:30 p.m. (ESPNews)

(2) Boston University (Hockey East champion) (27-10-0) vs. (3) Western Michigan (NCHC at-large) (23-14-1), 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, March 25

Denver-Cornell winner vs. Boston University-Western Michigan winner, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)


Friday, March 24

(1/2 overall) Quinnipiac (ECAC at-large) (30-4-3) vs. (4) Merrimack (Hockey East at-large) (23-13-1), 5:30 p.m. (ESPNews)

(2) Harvard (ECAC at-large) (24-7-2) vs. (3) Ohio State (Big Ten at-large) (20-15-3), 2 p.m. (ESPNU)

Sunday, March 26

Quinnipiac-Merrimack winner vs. Harvard-Ohio State winner, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)


Friday, March 24

(1/3 overall) Michigan (Big Ten champion) (24-11-3) vs. (4) Colgate (ECAC champion) (19-15-5), 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

(2) Penn State (Big Ten at-large) (21-15-1) vs. (3) Michigan Tech (CCHA at-large) (24-10-4), 5 p.m. (ESPNU)

Sunday, March 26

Michigan-Colgate winner vs. Penn State-Michigan Tech winner, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)


Thursday, April 6 semifinals

 Manchester, N.H. Regional winner vs. Fargo, N.D. Regional winner, 5 or 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Bridgeport, Conn. Regional winner vs. Allentown, Pa. Regional winner, 5 or 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, April 8 championship

Semifinal winners, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)