Born a month apart and growing up one town over from each other, Kevin Lind and T.J. Tynan have formed a natural bond over the years. The two have been playing hockey together since they were Mites in suburban Chicago elite leagues and remain close friends.
They even sit by each other on the Notre Dame team bus.
After Notre Dame defeated New Hampshire in the Northeast Region final on March 27 in Manchester, N.H., Lind and Tynan -- freshmen for the Fighting Irish -- shared a can-you-believe-this moment on the ride back to the airport.
"He just tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Think about where we could be,'" Lind said.
Both took similar, last-minute paths to earn a spot on the Irish's 2010-11 roster.
They're here only because Notre Dame had unexpected departures last August after forward Kyle Palmieri signed with the Anaheim Ducks and defenseman Jarred Tinordi left for the Ontario Hockey League.
"It was a tough summer for us," coach Jeff Jackson said.
But rather than fret about the voids in the lineup, Jackson turned to assistant coach Andy Slaggert, who had recruited what Jackson called the team's "ace in the hole in back and up front."
Tynan has been an instant success. The 5-8, 156-pound firecracker leads the team in scoring -- and is in the top 10 nationally -- with 53 points heading into Thursday's Frozen Four semifinal against Minnesota Duluth.
"You have to cherish it, but I don't think I cherish it any more than anyone else here," said Tynan, a center. "It was a surprise that I came in, but all the guys are enjoying this the same."
Jackson admits that he would have preferred Tynan spend a second year in the USHL with Des Moines and develop more physically. But it turns out that wasn't needed.
"He's got it in his mind that he's 6-3, and that's all that matters," Jackson said.
Lind really is 6-3, and is making sure to soak up every moment of this week's national stage.
"It was a complete shocker, but there is no other place I'd rather be than playing at Notre Dame," the defenseman said.
Wild fans attending Thursday's early semifinal could be getting a look at the future.
Fighting Irish junior Sean Lorenz was a fourth-round draft pick by the Wild in 2008.
The 6-1, 200-pound defenseman has participated in the Wild's past three prospect camps, but Thursday's game will be his first at Xcel Energy Center.
Even though the Wild was off to Vancouver, Lorenz said he will play with a bit of an extra skip in his skates.
"It's up to me to perform and develop how they want," he said. "It gives me a little bit of confidence, a little bit of excitement. But we're all excited for this. Everybody has to elevate their game just a little bit more."
All the way back
Sam Calabrese is definitely on the mend. After breaking an ankle in December of 2009, Calabrese has returned this season to lead Notre Dame defensemen with 18 points. He has two short-handed goals.
"You just want to be out there and make an impact," the sophomore said. "If you stay focused, your shot will come."
• Notre Dame is trying to break an 0-2-1 record against the WCHA this season, and an 0-1 record all-time at Xcel Energy Center.