Denver outworks Notre Dame for the entirety of the game.
On Thursday night at the United Center in Chicago, the 4th seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hockey Team competed against the Denver University Pioneers in the NCAA Frozen Four.
From the onset of the game, Notre Dame provided no real match for the Pioneers, as Denver controlled every aspect of the game. Shots on goal, puck possession, and defensive presence were all to the Pioneers’ advantage.
Both teams started off a bit timid, getting a feel for how each other was going to play. Then, all of a sudden, it seemed that Denver decided to turn on the jets. They dominated shots on goal, getting good scoring chances while it took the Fighting Irish all of the 1st Period to muster up a measly 3 shots on goal. Almost halfway through the first period (8:18 mark), Emil Romig opened up the scoring for Denver, and they would never look back. They added another goal from Henrik Borgstrom at the 14:50 mark of the 1st Period.
The Fighting Irish showed some life coming into the 2nd Period down 2-0, looking to make the game more interesting. Dennis Gilbert put a big hit onto Denver’s Liam Finlay, and Anders Bjork came out flying on his shift a little bit later in the period. However, the Irish started to fall flat again (literally, more than three times throughout the game players slipped and fell onto the ice, one of the times causing a Denver open look at a goal).
After the 2nd Period saw 3 goals from the Pioneers all within the last 6 minutes of the period, the 3rd Period saw a seemingly (and understandably) more relaxed Pioneer team. The only two penalties of the game were called in the 3rd Period, 1 on each team. The Denver penalty, though, provided one of the few positives for the Fighting Irish, as Cam Morrison scored (11:25 mark) after Jordan Gross’ shot deflected off his stick. Notre Dame won the face off from the start of the power play to set up that goal. Denver then added one more goal after that to cap off the night.
So, the Irish were just outmatched. Plain and simple. If the box score doesn’t give you a good enough representation of the game, the description of the game can be summed up by this one tweet:
Machine indeed. Denver was absolutely dominant.
The overall number 1 seed Pioneers now face the 2 seed University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in the Championship Game on Saturday night after the Bulldogs defeated the 3 seed Harvard Crimson 2-1.
The season ends for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but not after a phenomenal regional championship run as a 4 seed. It was a great season for the Fighting Irish that seemed to exceed expectations.