Pioneers Advance to the Championship Game

NCAA Frozen Four: United Center To Play Host For Men's Semi Finals and Championship Games

NCAA Frozen Four: United Center To Play Host For Men's Semi Finals and Championship Games

The Denver hockey team plays Notre Dame in the Frozen Four tonight, and a trip to the college hockey national championship is on the line.

But the game didn't feel out of reach for No. 4 seed Notre Dame until that 4:11 span in the second when everything went right for Denver and nothing did for the Irish.

Dylan Gambrell scored twice and Tariq Hammond had a goal and two assists for the top-seeded Pioneers, who were in control from the outset, scoring five goals through the first two periods on the slower, shell-shocked Irish.

Harvard will face Minnesota-Duluth in the other national semifinal on Thursday (6 p.m. ET; ESPN2), and the national championship will be played Saturday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN).

Notre Dame's Cam Morrison would get one back for the Irish, scoring on a power play goal with just under 10 minutes left in the third period. "When we are moving and floor checking really well we are getting on top of pucks, we are getting the puck more and that is always good for us".

Against Northeastern, UND launched 17 shots on goal in the first period alone and scored three times. With a stingy win over No. 4 Minnesota and an incredible overtime win against Hockey East champion UMass Lowell, the Fighting Irish have all the momentum going into their battle with Denver.

"Just being number one this year, we definitely have a target on our back", forward for the Pioneers, Troy Terry, said. Staub made a tremendous spin move to get into the zone and create some space on the ice, and his feed to Emil Romig was spot-on as the winger fired home a top-shelf goal to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead. "Here this time, we're looking to go to the next step". He is a 6-1 defenseman, who has 80 career NCAA games under his belt but only 18 total points. The rally took a big blow late in the second when Hammond capped off a two-on-one rush to the net, taking a pass from Evan Janssen and tapping it in for a 3-0 lead. "We're a good skating team, they're a good skating team". "I mean they had some good chances and we were fortunate".

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Denver is determined to finish the job this time around, and Notre Dame paid the price Thursday night. Cal Petersen finished with 36 saves. Minnesota-Duluth will be playing for its second championship.

The Irish came out with much more physicality and aggression to start the second period, out-skated Denver the first 14 minutes and missed on several quality looks at the Pioneer net -before the floodgates opened with three goals by Denver in the final 5:53 of the period to up the lead to 5-0.

"I thought we were turning a corner there, then we had a defenseman fall down and everything changed", Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said.

A shift almost two minutes long in the Irish zone eventually led to the first Denver goal of the game, a top-shelf sharp-angle snipe from Emil Romig.

"They're the No. 1 ranked team in the country for a reason", said the Irish head coach in the interview room. "You give them their due; they're a great team. I think it will be a fun game".

"I just didn't think we played as well as we're capable of playing".

"Not a ton of positives you can take away from that game", Petersen said.