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March 23, 2013

Irish advance to CCHA finals

Jeff Jackson will have one more shot to hoist the Mason Cup before it ceases to exist.

More than two decades ago Jackson broke into college coaching as an assistant at Lake Superior State, where he would eventually take over as head coach and win multiple Central Collegiate Hockey Association championships.

Since taking over at Notre Dame, Jackson has twice won the tournament title. He will have a chance to capture a third after the Irish took a 3-1 victory over Ohio State on Saturday in the semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Notre Dame will play Michigan, a 6-2 winner over Miami in the other semifinal at 2:05 p.m. Sunday with the Mason Cup and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.

Notre Dame (24-12-3) rallied past Ohio State after surrendering a lead in the first period.

Ryan Dzingel put the first Buckeyes shot on goal 9:56 into the game and beat goaltender Steven Summerhays to the glove side. But less than a minute later Notre Dame tied it up when winger Peter Schneider kept the puck in an odd-man rush and scored his fifth goal of the season.

Over the next period and a half Ohio State (16-17-7) would struggled to come up with scoring opportunities -- Summerhays finished with 16 saves -- while Notre Dame continued to pepper Buckeyes goaltender Brady Hjelle.

T.J. Tynan cashed in one of those chances at 3:50 of the third period, firing a wrist shot past Hjelle for a 2-1 Irish lead. Hjelle finished with 41 saves total. Jeff Costello put the finishing touches on with an empty netter at 18:55.

Doing so put Notre Dame in its first league championship game since 2009.

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