DENVER — In their first-ever Frozen Four appearance, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are heading to the championship game.
At 5:44 in overtime, Calle Ridderwall picked up Dan VeNard’s rebound and sent it past Michigan goaltender Bryan Hogan to give the Irish a 5-4 win over the Wolverines.
The game was tied 4-4 after the teams exchanged goals in the third.
Ridderwall opened the scoring for the Irish at the five-minute mark in the first, skating up the up the right wing and deking Michigan defenseman Tristin Llewellyn in the right circle before firing and beating Wolverine goaltender Billy Sauer clean for the early 1-0 lead.
At 5:42, Irish senior captain Mark Van Guilder made it 2-0 on a shot from the left dot. The puck was deflected by a Michigan defenseman and changed trajectory, misleading Sauer, who played to defend five-hole but let the puck through between his body and his arm.
Then at the end of the first, just as an Irish penalty expired, sophomore Ryan Thang picked up a loose puck inside the Irish blue line, motored down the left wing, skated in alone on Sauer and backhanded the puck past the Michigan goalie in the sliver of space that the Michigan goaltender allowed between his body and the left pipe, making it 3-0 at the end of one.
The three first-period goals forced a goalie change at the start of the second, when freshman Bryan Hogan replaced Sauer. The change gave the Wolverines some jump, and Michigan scored two goals 15 seconds apart in the middle of the second period to make it a 3-2 game after two.
Senior Chad Kolarik and freshman Matt Rust both capitalized on excellent set-ups to put Michigan on the board.
On Kolarik’s goal, Michigan senior captain Kevin Porter skated the puck into the Irish end and around a defender in the left circle before dropping it back for Kolarik, who was crashing in the slot. Kolarik’s wrister went up and over the glove of Irish goaltender Jordan Pearce to make it 3-1.
Fifteen seconds later, Rust picked up Aaron Palushaj’s rebound and popped it in short side, bringing the Wolverines to within one goal again.
Kolarik scored his second of the game and 30th of the season at 2:16 in the third to tie the game for Michigan, but in the second half of the stanza the teams exchanged goals to knot the contest at four each.
Kevin Deeth’s backhander at 11:30 from Dan Kissell and Ian Cole gave the Irish their brief 4-3 lead, but Carl Hagelin banked in a goal off of Notre Dame netminder Jordan Pearce’s left skate at 14:39 to tie it again.
The Wolverines had a golden opportunity for a game-winner late in the third, when Deeth was sent to the penalty box for obstruction hooking. At 17:06, Deeth upended Aaron Palushaj in spectacular fashion in front of the Irish net, sending the Michigan freshman several feet into the air over Pearce. Palushaj landed belly-down on the ice and slid into the corner undamaged.
Michigan was unable to create anything on the power play, and the remainder of the period was played safely by both teams.
Notre Dame, held to 21 shots in regulation, had eight in overtime. Michigan had 33 shots, four in overtime. Hogan, who had the loss, made 18 saves in 45:44. Pearce made 29 saves and got the win.