Michigan has Notre Dame's number on the football field. Not so the ice.
Calle Ridderwall punched the puck past freshman goalie Bryan Hogan 5:44 into overtime Thursday night, giving Notre Dame a 5-4 victory over the top-ranked Wolverines in the Frozen Four semifinals.
Ridderwall's second goal of the night sent the Irish into a frenzied, pile-on celebration at center ice while the heavily favored Wolverines stood in stunned silence, their dreams of their first championship in a decade dashed at the hands of the upstart Fighting Irish, of all teams.
Notre Dame (27-15-4) will face Boston College for the championship Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. The Eagles routed North Dakota 6-1 in the other semifinal to reach the title game for the third straight season.
The Fighting Irish are seeking their first national championship in hockey and the Eagles (24-11-8) are going for their third. They won in 1949 and 2001.
Notre Dame had never reached the Frozen Four before, while this was Michigan's 23rd trip. The Irish jumped ahead 3-0 after one period only to watch the Wolverines storm back and force overtime at the Frozen Four since Minnesota beat Michigan 3-2 in the 2003 semifinals.
Before giving up the game-winner, Hogan had saved 18 of 19 shots after Billy Sauer, who was 30-4-3 this season with a 1.89 goals against average, got the hook from coach Red Berenson after the first period.
The Wolverines got back into it by scoring two goals 15 seconds apart midway through the second period. Chad Kolarik scored from the slot against Jordan Pearce, and no sooner had the Wolverines finished celebrating than Matt Rust backhanded the puck past Pearce to make it 3-2.
Suddenly, the Wolverines looked everything like the team that's been here so many times before and Fighting Irish looked like the Frozen Four novices they are.
Kolarik tied it at 3 at 2:16 of the third period with a rebound goal after Aaron Palushaj hit the post on a power play.
The Irish regained the lead on Kevin Deeth's goal at 11:30 on Notre Dame's second shot of the third period, but the Wolverines tied it up again with 5:21 remaining on Carl Hagelin's backhander.
Both teams had several chances to score in overtime before Ridderwall slapped in the game-winner from the left side.
Sauer, a Colorado Avalanche draft pick, also had a poor showing last year at the Pepsi Center, when he gave up seven goals on 26 shots during an 8-5 loss to North Dakota in the West Regional.
When Sauer was asked about the game on Wednesday, Berenson quickly interrupted and suggested last year was not relevant. But just 5:42 into this game, Sauer surely was having flashbacks after giving up goals to Ridderwall and Mark Van Guilder just 42 seconds apart.
With 35 seconds left in the first period, Ryan Thang squeezed an unassisted short-handed goal past Sauer to give the Fighting Irish a 3-0 lead and ignite derisive chants of "Sau-er! Sau-er" from the Notre Dame faithful.
Sauer was on the bench when the second period began, Berenson replacing his junior who had 101 games of experience with Hogan, whose last time in goal was a 4-3 overtime loss to Ferris State on March 1 in the regular season finale.
Sauer, who beat Notre Dame twice in a two-game series in January, then won four games in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association tournament and both games in the NCAA East Regional, including a 2-0 shutout over Clarkson that clinched the Wolverines' 23rd trip to the Frozen Four.
But he saved just six of the nine shots he faced Thursday night.
Assisting on Michigan's first goal was captain Kevin Porter, whose 33 goals and 30 assists this year have made him the favorite for the Hobey Baker award, hockey's equivalent to the Heisman Trophy, which will be presented Friday night.
The Irish, however, largely neutralized Porter, who didn't have a shot on goal in regulation.
Although this was Notre Dame's first Frozen Four, it was their coach's fourth. Jeff Jackson led Lake Superior State to national titles in 1992 and '94 and a runner-up finish in '93. Jackson is now 6-1 in Frozen Four appearances.
This was the biggest game in the 115-game series between the rivals who first squared off in 1921, about the time the schools' football teams were building their storied rivalry, one which has been lopsided of late _ Michigan routed Notre Dame 38-0 last fall.
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