Seven years later, three-quarters of the 2011 men’s Frozen Four field is coming back to St. Paul, Minn.
And this year’s national semifinals are a showcase for the Big Ten, whose teams claimed three of the four spots.
Minnesota Duluth, Notre Dame and Michigan — all of whom were in the 2011 event — return to the Xcel Energy Center for the 2018 Frozen Four on April 5 and 7, and they’ll be joined by Ohio State.
Michigan earned its spot with a 6-3 victory over Boston University in the Northeast Regional final on Sunday. Ohio State knocked out defending national champion Denver 5-1 in the Midwest Regional.
Notre Dame (over Providence in the East) and Minnesota Duluth (over Air Force in the West) made it to the semifinals on Saturday.
The Bulldogs will play the Buckeyes in the 5 p.m. Central game on April 5 in St. Paul, while the Wolverines and the Fighting Irish will skate at 8:30.
The semifinal winners play for the national championship at 6:30 p.m. Central on April 7.
With Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State representing the Big Ten, it’s the first time that one conference has sent three teams to the Frozen Four since 2005, when the WCHA had all four spots.
Minnesota Duluth won its only national championship at the Xcel Energy Center in 2011, beating Michigan in overtime in the final. Notre Dame also was in the field that year, which also was the last time that all four teams were from the western half of college hockey.
The Bulldogs (23-16-3) are making their sixth Frozen Four appearance, and they’re the eighth NCHC entrant in the semifinals in the league’s five years.
Ohio State is in the Frozen Four for only the second time and the first in 20 years.
The matchup against Minnesota Duluth means Buckeyes coach Steve Rohlik will face his former boss at UMD, Scott Sandelin. Rohlik, a St. Paul native, was on the Bulldogs’ staff from 2001 to 2010.
The Buckeyes own a 4-3-1 lead in the all-time series with Minnesota Duluth but the Bulldogs have the most recent victory: a 3-2 overtime triumph in the first round of the 2017 NCAA tournament.
Notre Dame and Michigan have been playing since 1923, with the Wolverines holding a 77-56-5 lead in the series.
The teams split four games this season, with Notre Dame winning a pair of 2-1 games in January and Michigan getting 4-2 and 1-0 victories in February.
The Wolverines tied Boston College for the most Frozen Four appearances by booking their 25th on Sunday. They have been in the field all three times the tournament has been at the Xcel Energy Center (2002, 2011 and 2018).
Notre Dame is returning to the Frozen Four after suffering a 6-1 loss to Denver in last year’s semifinals in Chicago.
This is the Irish’s fourth Frozen Four appearance.
The field includes two No. 1 seeds (Notre Dame and Ohio State), a No. 2 seed (Michigan) and a No. 3 seed (Minnesota Duluth).
In 17 seasons of a 16-team tournament, there has never been a Frozen Four with one team from each seeding band.