2:30 p.m. today • Northeast Regional, Manchester, N.H. • ESPNU, 1500-AM
Gophers vs. Notre Dame
Preview: The fifth-ranked Gophers (23-11-3) will make their 37th NCAA tournament appearance, most of any program in history, after missing the field last year. The top seed in the Northeast Regional and the Big Ten regular-season champions, they are 55-37 in NCAA tournament play and have won five national titles; they lost to Union in 2014 in their most recent appearance in the championship game. The Gophers enter the tournament with a 2-2-1 record in their past five games, including a double-overtime loss to Penn State last Friday in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. No. 12 Notre Dame (21-11-5) finished fourth in Hockey East during the regular season and lost to UMass-Lowell — which also is playing in the Northeast Regional — in the semifinals of the conference tournament. The Gophers are 27-15-3 against the Irish, including a 5-3 mark since the 2011-12 season. The teams have met only once in the NCAA tournament, with the Gophers earning a 5-2 victory in a first-round matchup in 2004.
Players to watch: The Gophers’ high-powered top line of Tyler Sheehy, Justin Kloos and Rem Pitlick has distinguished itself throughout the season. Sheehy, the Big Ten player of the year, has 53 points this season, the most by a Gophers player since Ryan Potulny’s 63 in 2005-06. He is a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey. Kloos reached the 150-point mark for his career with a goal in last Friday’s loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals; he has a career-high 18 goals this season. Pitlick, a freshman, is on a six-game point streak (four goals, five assists); he has 32 points this season, with 23 of those in Big Ten play. Notre Dame goaltender Cal Petersen is a finalist for the Mike Richter Award, given to the top goalie in college hockey. Petersen, a junior, has a goals-against average of 2.14 and save percentage of .928, with an NCAA-best six shutouts. Junior forward Anders Bjork — a Hobey Baker finalist — leads the Irish with 19 goals, including five game-winners, and 47 points. Jordan Gross of Maple Grove is Notre Dame’s top-scoring defenseman, with 10 goals and 20 assists.
Numbers: Notre Dame is outscoring opponents 50-27 in third periods this season. The Gophers aren’t far behind, with a 49-29 margin. … The Gophers were 9-5-2 against nonconference opponents this season. … Notre Dame has a 6-8 record in nine NCAA tournament appearances.