One half of the 2011 NCAA hockey national championship game is set. Minnesota Duluth beat Notre Dame by a score of 4-3 in the first semifinal at the 2011 Frozen Four to clinch a spot in Saturday's title game. The Bulldogs will face the winner of the Michigan/North Dakota game, which begins at 8:30 p.m. tonight.
The first period of the Minnesota Duluth/Notre Dame game was quite wild. The Fighting Irish scored 49 seconds in to take a 1-0 lead, but Minnesota Duluth answered at the 3:04 mark of the first period to tie things up. Notre Dame scored six and a half or so minutes later, but the Bulldogs again quickly responded with a goal to tie the game. Riding the momentum of that goal, Minnesota Duluth scored their second power-play goal of the game at the 13:31 mark to take a 3-2 lead.
In the second period, Minnesota Duluth scored the only goal. Like their first and third goals, this one again came on the power play. Notre Dame just couldn't stay out of the box, and it couldn't slow down the Bulldogs' power play unit, either.
After taking another penalty to start the third period, Notre Dame looked to be in some trouble, but Calle Ridderwall scored a shorthanded goal to cut the lead in half. Notre Dame spent the rest of the period working over Minnesota Duluth. The Fighting Irish actually outshot the Bulldogs by a margin of 14-2 in the third period, but Notre Dame just couldn't put the puck in the net again. Notre Dame had a power play late and three total in the third, but Minnesota Duluth managed to keep the Fighting Irish off the board after that early goal, hanging on to win, 4-3.
Saturday's national championship will be Minnesota Duluth's second ever appearance in the NCAA hockey season's final game.