April 7, 2017
CHICAGO – Notre Dame rallied from deficits in victories over Minnesota and UMass-Lowell to reach the 2017 Frozen Four, but the Irish were unable to replicate that come-from-behind formula Thursday Night at the United Center. Top-ranked and No. 1-seeded Denver raced out to a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back en route to a 6-1 victory over Notre Dame.
Denver improved to 32-7-4, while the Irish end their season at 23-12-5.
Notre Dame goaltender Cal Petersen registered 36 saves in defeat.
How It Happened
Petersen was tested from the opening puck drop. Denver collected the game’s first six shots and controlled possession. The Pioneers broke through at 8:18 of the first period on an Emil Romig goal. Romig received a pass behind the net from Will Butcher and fired a shot over the left shoulder pad of Petersen.
Denver continued to push the pace of the game and were once again rewarded. Henrik Borgstrom gave the Pioneers a 2-0 lead at 14:50 of the first. Butcher skated around the net and tried to fire a wrap-around shot on Petersen, but the puck actually slid off Butcher’s stick into the crease where Borgstrom was waiting to capitalize, and capitalize he did.
Denver out-shot the Irish 13-3 in the opening period. Petersen registered 11 saves in the opening 20 minutes.
Notre Dame rebounded from a difficult opening period and set the tone right from the start of the second period on Dennis Gilbert’s massive check.
Anders Bjork had a great chance at the 10:45 mark of the second period. While being held, Bjork forced his way in on Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet but his slap shot was blocked.
Bjork and Jordan Gross had back-to-back quality scoring chances just under the 8:00 mark of the second period.
Bjork fired a wrist shot just wide of the goal following a nifty feed from Evans.
Gross’ blast from near the blue line, once again on a feed from Evans, was saved by Jaillet.
Petersen made a spectacular save at the 6:15 mark. Denver dumped the puck, and it appeared as though an icing call would follow, but it was waved off. The Pioneers got a turnover in the Irish zone and Borgstrom fired a rocket toward the left corner of the goal, but Petersen deflected with his left pad.
Notre Dame immediately answered with a quality scoring chance of its own. Bo Brauer drove into the Pioneer zone and stopped on a dime and fired the puck in front of the Denver net. Joe Wegwerth was fighting in traffic in front of the net and got a shot off but the referee lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle.
Despite controlling most of the play in the second period, Denver put the game away with three goals in just over a four-minute span late in the period.
The Pioneers took advantage of a 2-on-1 breakaway that resulted when Luke Ripley slipped while trying to retreat on defense. Evan Janssen slotted the pass across the goal mouth to Tariq Hammond, who slotted it home at 14:07 to give Denver a 3-0 lead.
The Pioneers added goals from Dylan Gambrell and Evan Ritt at 16:27 and 18:18 of the second period, respectively, to put the game away.
Notre Dame did breakthrough with a power-play goal at the 11:24 mark the third period. Evans won the face immediately following a Pioneer penalty. Gross took the feed and fired toward the Denver net, where Cam Morrison was able to deflect past Janssen to make the score, 5-1.
The Pioneers closed the scorebook with a tally from Gambrell at 16:42 of the third period.
Notre Dame NCAA Notes
- Junior goaltender Cal Petersen made his 90th-consecutive start in the Notre Dame net, which is the fourth-longest streak in the NCAA Div. I records book.
- Petersen has also appeared in 91 consecutive games, which is the fifth-longest mark in the NCAA Div. I records book.
- Jordan Gross skated in his 119th straight game.
- With a goal, Cam Morrison extended his point streak to three games (3-1-4) and he posted seven points (4-3-7) in in Notre Dame’s six playoff games.
- Notre Dame is now 1-2 in NCAA semifinal games.
- The Irish are now 5-3 as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.
- This season marked the eighth NCAA Championship appearance by the Irish under head coach Jeff Jackson, dating back to 2006, and he led Notre Dame to the Frozen Four in 2008, 2011 and 2017.
- Notre Dame became the third team to appear in three of the last 10 Frozen Fours, joining North Dakota (five) and Boston College (five).
— ND —