It ain't midnight yet (click video below) PDF Print E-mail
Posted by Ryan O'Leary, Blue and Gold   
Friday, 11 April 2008
It was after midnight in South Bend by the time Thursday's second Frozen Four semifinal reached its conclusion...but Cinderella was still decked out in her finest gear, dancing the night away. Jackson has led Irish hockey to its first national championship game in school history. One ugly stepsister down, one to go. Freshman Calle Ridderwalls second goal of the night, 5 minutes and 44 seconds into overtime, propelled Notre Dame past top-ranked Michigan, 5-4, and into the NCAA championship game for the first time in school history. The Irish (27-15-4) will face Boston College for the title Saturday evening (7 p.m. EDT on ESPN). The Eagles bum-rushed North Dakota, 6-1, in the earlier semifinal. Earlier in the night, it looked like the second showdown might be just as lopsided, as Notre Dame jumped out to a stunning 3-0 lead in the first period. Ridderwall got things started with a sweet individual effort five minutes in, and senior Mark Van Guilder followed up just 42 seconds later with a low wrist shot from the left side. A shorthanded goal by sophomore Ryan Thang, who carried end to end at the close of an Irish penalty kill, put the Wolverines up against the wall and forced starting goaltender Billy Sauer from the game at the first intermission. Michigan (33-6-4) regrouped, however, getting on the board with a Chad Kolarik goal from out front at the 8:48 mark of the second period. Just 15 ticks later, Matt Rust cut the Notre Dame lead to one. The Wolverines caught a major break early in the third period when the Irish were whistled for too many men on the ice and they took full advantage, with Kolarik netting a power-play goal just 2:16 into the frame. Sophomore Kevin Deeth put Notre Dame back in front with 8:30 remaining, but Michigan again had luck on its side, as Carl Hagelins shot with 5:21 to go somehow got between the right goalpost and the skate of Irish netminder Jordan Pearce. Despite having lost all of its early momentum, the Fighting Irish came out and assumed control in the extra period, outshooting the Wolverines 8-4 (Michigan finished the game with a 33-29 edge in that category). After a couple of golden opportunities just missed, Ridderwall finished things off by getting a stick on the rebound of a Dan VeNard shot and beating reserve goalie Bryan Hogan. Notre Dame came into the NCAA Tournament as the longshot, the last at-large team selected for the field, but became the first-ever No. 4 seed to reach the Frozen Four. Now, the party has long since been crashed. The gown is still on, the pumpkin is still a stagecoach and the clock appears to be stuck on 11:59. Forget the prince, though Cinderellas in search of something far more meaningful.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 12 April 2008 )
 
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