Frozen Four 2011: Can Notre Dame Continue Strong Play in Frozen Four?
Frozen Four 2011 Sees Young Notre Dame Advance, Can They Continue Strong Play of Late?
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team advanced to the Frozen Four for the second time in school history on Sunday, thanks to a 2-1 win over the Northeast region's fourth seed, New Hampshire, but the Irish now face their toughest test of the year.
Notre Dame has always struggled in the postseason in hockey, but with one of the youngest teams in the country, they've battled and scrapped their way into the national semifinals once again.
Now that they're here, can the Domers take home a national title, or will they come up short?
The Irish's fortunes largely rest on the play of sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson. Johnson was a rock against New Hampshire, making 35 saves in the win, but with such a young team in front of him, he needs to continue his strong play in order for Notre Dame to advance.
That's not to say the skill positions aren't talented; in fact, they're quite good. Junior forward Billy Maday has emerged as a breakout star this season, while T.J. Tynan, Anders Lee and Ryan Guetzel are all incredibly dangerous scorers.
However, this is an incredibly young Notre Dame squad, with 12 freshmen on the roster. In fact, only defenseman Joe Lavin and winger Calle Ritterwall are seniors. The Irish are tough, but many times, it's experience that counts.
Plus, we saw this team struggle against Merrimack in the regional semifinals, needing to rally for a 4-3 overtime win.
All in all, the Irish are a good team with a promising future, but they might be a bit outgunned this season. Next year, though, don't be surprised to see the golden helmets making a run for the national title.
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