Your 2018 National Champions...
Thanks for reading! Check out Below the Goal Line for more exclusive content.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish took on the Bulldogs of Minnesota-Duluth in the finale of the Frozen Four. Both teams got through two regional match-ups and defeated their Frozen Four semifinal opponents to meet for the national championship. Check out the full tournament bracket here.
The Bulldogs jumped out to the early 2-0 first period lead. After defeating Ohio State in their semifinal game, Minnesota-Duluth showed off its speed in the first period by winning the majority of puck battles.
Senior captain Karson Kuhlman would get the Bulldogs on the board with a wicked wrister from the faceoff circle. Kuhlman broke into the zone and shot around a Notre Dame defender's stick to beat goaltender Cale Morris.
Minnesota-Duluth's young defense played a strong game in the first period. The blueline corps, which consisted of five freshman and one sophmore, smothered Notre Dame's attack in the first period.
But the Bulldogs tenacious forecheck would lead to their second goal of the opening period. A Bulldog forward fought off three different Irish defenders for a shot that snuck past Morris for the 2-0 lead.
Notre Dame picked up their play in the second period. After killing off two penalties, the Fighting Irish got on the board with a powerplay goal. Andrew Oglevie scored his 15th of the season. The goal went five-hole through the Bulldogs goalie off the Oglevie deflection in front of the net, with an assist coming from team captain Jake Evans.
The story of the second period was Hunter Shepard. The Minnesota-Duluth goalie made several incredible saves, including some big saves on the penalty kill to keep the game 2-1 in favor of the Bulldogs at the end of the period. After making seven saves in the first period, Shepard made only allowed the one Irish goal on eight shots in the second period.
Minnesota-Duluth won their only national championship in school history in 2011 over Michigan. Notre Dame is looking for their first ever national championship.
The Bulldogs picked up their play to start the final period. After allowing Notre Dame to control the pace of play for the second half of the middle frame, Minnesota-Duluth came out with a good number of scoring chances, but it was Cale Morris who was aggressive to keep the Fighting Irish in the game. Morris stopped Kuhlman on a breakaway with four minutes left to keep the score 2-1.
Minnesota-Duluth felt comfortable trying to hold a 2-1 lead late in this game. While Notre Dame was the harder hitting team in this one, the Bulldogs were confident keeping the puck deep in the Irish end and away from the their goalie.
In the end, that confidence by the Bulldogs was the difference. Minnesota-Duluth outskated Notre Dame in the final period to keep the score 2-1 to win their second national championship in school history. In the end, it was the relentless pressure by the swift skating Bulldogs that lead the last team to make the tournament to victory.