Notre Dame Hockey Invited To 16-Team NCAA Tournament
For the 11th time in head coach Jeff Jackson’s 16 seasons at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish hockey program has been invited to the 16-team NCAA Tournament.
It also is the fifth straight such bid when not including the cancellation of last year’s tournament because of COVID-19.
Notre Dame is the No. 4 seed in the Albany Regional and will face No. 1 seed Boston College (17-5-1) this Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, with the game telecast by ESPNews. The winner will take on the winner of No. 2 seed St. Cloud State versus No. 3 seed Boston University the following day.
The invitation came as a bit of a surprise because the 14-13-2 overall record (12-10-2 in the Big Ten) was the worst among the 11 times a Jackson-coached team earned a berth, and the worst in this year’s tournament field. Plus, the regular season ended with a 6-3 loss on home ice to Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament last Sunday (March 14).
However, the strength of schedule in the Big Ten provided a boost, with Minnesota (the Big Ten Tournament champ), Wisconsin (Big Ten regular season champ) and Michigan all placing among the nation's top seven teams.
Aiding Notre Dame making the tournament was St. Lawrence had to withdraw due to COVID-19 issues. St. Lawrence played only 17 games this year and was 6-8-3 — but upset Quinnipiac to win the ECAC Tournament to receive the automatic bid.
Boston College had been ranked No. 1 overall before losing to UMass in the Hockey East Tournament.
Under Jackson, Notre Dame has made Frozen Four appearances in 2008, 2011, 2017 and 2018, and lost in the championship game in 2008 (4-1 to Boston College) and 2018 (2-1 to Minnesota Duluth).
Interestingly, the only other two times Notre Dame was a No. 4 seed — in 2008 and 2017 — it upset the top seed in the opener and advanced to the Frozen Four both times.
Jackson is 12-10 at Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament, and the Irish had only one other previous invite prior to his arrival in 2005.
This will be the 47th meeting between the Fighting Irish and Eagles dating back to 1969, with Boston College holding a 23-20-3 edge.
Maybe the best news is the Irish play on the road, where it was 9-2-1 this year compared to 5-11-1 at home.
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