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NCAA Frozen Four: Notre Dame Adjusting To Life As Hockey Power

For the second time in four years, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have made it to the Frozen Four. A school not traditionally known for hockey, Notre Dame has become a relevant force to be reckoned with in a short time frame. For a school that had never made the NCAA Tournament before 2004, the Irish have won two CCHA regular-season titles, two CCHA tournament titles and are looking forward to a new on-campus rink. Most of the credit has to go to Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson, who won two national titles with Lake Superior State.

At the same time, Notre Dame has also dealt with some of the other issues of being a program on the rise. Two blue-chip prospects left the Irish early (or in the case of Jared Tinordi never made in on campus), following a trend started with current Anaheim Duck Cam Fowler last season. Despite that, Notre Dame has been able to overcome adversity and make it to St. Paul.

University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Conference: Central Collegiate Hockey Association
Record: 25-13-5 (18-7-3-2 CCHA)

Path to the Frozen Four:
At-large bid (#3 seed Northeast)
Defeated Merrimack 4-3 OT in First Round
Defeated New Hampshire 2-1 in Regional Final

Why the Fighting Irish can win their first national championship: They are hot at the right time. Anders Lee, T.J. Tynan and goalie Mike Johnson have all played well since Notre Dame ended the regular season 2-4 and began Tournament play. As coach Jeff Jackson said, "it’s a one game situation where anything is possible. If you play sixty solid and disciplined minutes, our team will win."

Why the Fighting Irish won’t win: Youth. This year’s team features three seniors who were in Denver three years ago; however Notre Dame’s lineup feature twelve freshmen. Although the Irish are happy with the chemistry of their team, the hot play of two freshmen (Lee and Tynan) can cool off on the big stage . In addition, Notre Dame is 0-2-1 this season against the WCHA, including a 6-3 loss to North Dakota.

Minnesota connections:
-3 players (Freshman Anders Lee [Edina], Sophomore Nick Larson [Apple Valley] and Senior Ryan Guentzel [Woodbury]) are from the state
-Junior defensemen Nick Condon is the brother of Gophers forward Nate Condon
-The Minnesota Wild in the 4th round of the 2008 Draft drafted junior defenseman Sean Lorenz

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.