Dylan Malmquist was well aware before the college hockey season even started where the Frozen Four would be held.
“My mom has been reminding me since last year,” he said, smiling.
Hey, moms know everything.
Malmquist, the former Edina star, made sure he enjoyed a homecoming by taking matters into his own hands with Notre Dame’s season on the line in the East Regional Final.
His goal with 27 seconds left gave Notre Dame a 2-1 victory over Providence College, sending the Fighting Irish into the Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center.
That was the appetizer.
Malmquist padded his postseason résumé with another highlight play Thursday night on a splendid assist that setup a go-ahead goal in the third period of the Frozen Four semifinals at Xcel Energy Center.
That set the stage for another dramatic finish. Irish captain Jake Evans scored with 3.7 seconds left in regulation to break a deadlock for a 4-3 win over Michigan to advance to the championship game.
With the score tied 2-2 in the third period, Malmquist feathered a pass through traffic to a perfect spot for linemate Cal Burke for a give-and-go goal.
“All I had to do was lay it up for him,” Malmquist said.
The Fighting Irish should send a big thank-you to Minnesota for helping them stay alive. In addition to Malmquist’s assist, Maple Grove’s Jordan Gross assisted on both second-period goals after Notre Dame fell behind 2-0.
Just like Malmquist, Gross already had played the role of postseason hero after scoring an overtime goal against Michigan Tech in the region semifinal.
“Minnesota has been very good to Notre Dame,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said.
Notre Dame has five Minnesotans on the roster: Gross, Malmquist, Bo Brauer (Edina), Tony Bretzman (Mendota Heights) and Matt Hellickson (Rogers).
Gross is an alternate captain. Brauer is the undisputed locker room comedian.
“He’s the loudest and most energetic, and he’s just fun to be around,” Evans said.
The Frozen Four homecoming meant high ticket demand for the locals.
“I told my parents right away I’m only going to get 12,” said Gross, who scored tickets from a few teammates to reach that number.
Gross, a senior defenseman, is third on Notre Dame in points. He has played in every game in his career (158 consecutive) and was named the East Regional Most Outstanding Player after scoring two goals vs. Michigan Tech.
He will play his final collegiate game Saturday in the same arena as his lone state tournament appearance at Maple Grove. He made a lasting memory back then. He added another one Thursday.
Gross initiated the breakout pass that set up Notre Dame’s final rush and Evans’ game-winner.
“I was behind the play,” Gross said. “I saw we had a 3 on 2. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘Go, go, go.’ ”
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org