The Frozen Four will be telecast tonight (April 6) on ESPN2. The first contest features No. 1 seeds Harvard (28-8-2) and Minnesota-Duluth (27-6-7), while the nightcap at 9:30 p.m. ET has Notre Dame (23-11-5) facing off against No. 1 Denver (31-7-4).
10 In the 10 years from 2008-17, Notre Dame’s three Frozen Four appearances are the third most in the country, behind only Boston College and North Dakota, which have five apiece. Under 12th-year head coach Jeff Jackson, the Fighting Irish also made appearances in 2008 (lost to BC in the championship) and 2011 (lost to eventual national champ Minnesota-Duluth in the semifinals).
9 NCAA Tournament appearances by Notre Dame since the inception of a playoff in 1948, with the current 16-team format beginning in 2003. The first appearance was in 2005 versus Minnesota (a first-round loss), while the other eight have occurred in the last 11 seasons under Jackson. Notre Dame’s all-time record in the tourney is 8-8, and 8-7 under Jackson — including 5-1 as a No. 4 seed, which it is this year.
8 Ranking nationally of Notre Dame’s team defense that yields 2.23 goals per game — while Denver is No. 8 in most goals per game at 3.40. However, the Pioneers are No. 1 in fewest goals allowed per game at 1.83. Remarkably in its 42 games this year, Denver allowed more than three goals only once, a 6-5 win over Wisconsin Nov. 26.
7 Points scored by Notre Dame junior forward and first-team Hockey East All-Star Anders Bjork on three goals and four assists in in his three career NCAA Championship games. He was named the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional’s Most Outstanding Player, scoring twice in the 3-2 win versus No. 1 seed Minnesota March 25 and recording assists on all three goals in the 3-2 overtime win versus No. 2 seed UMass Lowell the next day. The Irish are 22-5-2 this year in games where Bjork scores at least one point, and 1-6-3 when he does not.
6 Frozen Four appearances as a head coach by Jackson, with his first three coming at Lake Superior State from 1992-94. The Lakers won the 1992 and 1994 national titles, and lost to Maine in 1993. Hugely responsible for that 1993 loss was current fourth-year Denver coach Jim Montgomery, who scored a hat trick for Maine — and was a volunteer assistant for Jackson in his first season at Notre Dame in 2005-06.
5 The USCHO top five entering the NCAA Tournament featured Denver, Harvard, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota and UMass Lowell. The Fighting Irish — who were ranked No. 12 at the end of the regular season — already have defeated the latter two in the first two rounds, and now the top three join them in the Frozen Four.
4 Junior goaltender Cal Petersen is slated to make his 90th consecutive start for Notre Dame — the fourth longest in NCAA history — dating back to a 5-1 win over Maine on Feb. 7, 2015. The first-team Hockey East All-Star is second nationally in saves (1,065) and tied for first in shutouts (six).
3 Periods of 20 minutes in hockey, with the third the best for Notre Dame this season. The Irish have outscored opponents 52-28 in the third period this season, and the 52 goals are tied for the fourth most in the country. In the NCAA Tournament this year, Notre Dame has been the lone team to win twice while entering the third period either tied or trailing.
2 Games played between the Pioneers and Irish in Denver on Jan. 1-2, 2016, with 1-1 and 2-2 ties resulting the last time the two met. Petersen was extraordinary in the series with 92 saves on his 95 chances, while Notre Dame had only 52 shots on goal in the series. The two teams were WCHA rivals from 1971-81, and Denver leads the all-time series 35-10-5 in the 50 prior meetings.
1 Ranking nationally of the 31-7-4 Denver team. The last time Notre Dame vanquished the No. 1 team in the NCAA Tournament also was in the semifinals of the 2008 Frozen Four, a 5-4 overtime victory versus Michigan, which finished 33-6-4. The Irish then lost to Boston College in the title game, 4-1.
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