For the seventh straight NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish began their quest for the school’s first hockey national championship. Awaiting the three-seeded Irish in Albany, NY were the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, who entered the tournament with an overall record of 24-13-1. A perennial college hockey powerhouse, North Dakota entered the tournament looking for their eighth championship, which would tie them for the most all-time.
It was a defensive showcase early on. Despite only holding the Fighting Hawks to four shots, the Fighting Irish could only rally for five of their own. At the tail end of the period, a North Dakota double screen helped Brent Johnson, a 2021 third round pick of the Washington Capitals, open the scoring with a shot that went over the blocker side of Matthew Galajda.
It didn’t take long for the Irish to respond. Just over a minute into the middle frame, Graham Slaggert deflected a North Dakota pass that was picked up by his younger brother and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Landon Slaggert, who got the puck past Zach Driscoll to make it 1-1. Despite power-play chances from both sides, the game remained tied heading into the third.
The Irish started the final period on a broken power-play, and got another one midway through the period when Matteo Costantini was sent to the box for hooking, but couldn’t break the tie. North Dakota had a chance to take the lead with a Riese Gaber penalty shot, but the sophomore right winger missed wide. When Jack Adams was called for hooking with just 1:34 left, the Fighting Hawks got the golden opportunity of ending regulation on the man advantage.
While short handed, it looked like the Slaggert brothers did it again. With the help of Graham, Landon buried a rebound past Driscoll right as the horn sounded. Thinking they’d advanced to the regional final in walk-off fashion, the Notre Dame celebration was underway. But after a lengthy review, it was determined to be no goal, and the game went to sudden-victory overtime.
After all the drama at the end of regulation, North Dakota still had 26 seconds of power-play time to open the extra period. However, it would come to an early end, when Chris Jandric was called for interference to make it a brief 4 on 4, followed by a Notre Dame power-play. On the man advantage, a Graham Slaggert shot from the right circle put any controversy to rest, and punched Notre Dame’s ticket to the Albany regional final, where they’ll face the Minnesota State Mavericks.
North Dakota: Brent Johnson at 18:43 in the 1st, assisted by Jackson Kunz and Griffin Ness
Notre Dame: Landon Slaggert at 01:03 in the 2nd, assisted by Graham Slaggert
Notre Dame: Graham Slaggert at 01:38 in OT, assisted by Nick Leivermann and Landon Slaggert
Notre Dame: Landon Slaggert for boarding at 09:17 in the 2nd
North Dakota: Chris Jandric for holding at 18:21 in the 2nd
North Dakota: Matteo Costantini for hooking at 07:27 in the 3rd
Notre Dame: Nick Leivermann for hooking at 10:30 in the 3rd
Notre Dame: Jack Adams for hooking at 18:26 in the 3rd
North Dakota: Chris Jandric for interference at 00:14 in OT
Notre Dame: Matthew Galajda, 23 saves
North Dakota: Zach Driscoll, 23 saves
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the Minnesota State Mavericks in the Albany regional final, with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line, Saturday, March 26 at 6:30 PM ET. The game can be seen on ESPNU.