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Staff Predictions: Frozen Four

Observer Sports Writers | Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sam Werner, Senior Sports Writer

The seniors, who were freshmen on Notre Dame’s 2008 Frozen Four team, know what to expect this weekend and can prepare the freshmen for the experience. The Frozen Four is more about cool heads and getting bounces than anything else. Still playing the underdog, Notre Dame’s looseness from two weeks ago carries over — as does Mike Johnson’s superb play in net — and the Irish leave Saint Paul with the program’s first national championship.

Notre Dame 3, Minnesota-Duluth 1

Notre Dame 4, North Dakota 3 (OT)

This year, Irish coach Jeff Jackson has had to talk about his freshmen after seemingly every game. This weekend, though, it’s going to be about the seniors. Ben Ryan, Ryan Guentzel and, most especially, Calle Ridderwall will step up in the second Frozen Four of their careers. Expect to hear techno blasting Saturday when Ridderwall puts the Irish past Michigan, just like 2008 — except this time for the title.

Notre Dame 5, Minnesota-Duluth 3

Notre Dame 3, Michigan 2

Reason would dictate that North Dakota will take home the championship Saturday. They are the deepest, most experienced, most talented team left in the field. It is a good thing, then, that Notre Dame’s young roster hasn’t been around the college game long enough to listen to reason. Notre Dame’s 12 freshmen become instant legends in front of our eyes, reason takes a backseat, and the Irish win their first title.

Notre Dame 2, Minnesota-Duluth 1

Notre Dame 4, North Dakota 3

The experience of Notre Dame’s senior class from 2008’s Frozen Four will lead the Irish to victory in the semifinals, as the upperclassmen will help keep the freshmen calm and loose. But Saturday’s likely opponent, North Dakota, has great offense, strong defense, and superb goaltending. And their 12-1 combined margin of victory in the Tournament’s first two rounds shows that, quite frankly, they’re the nation’s best team.

Notre Dame 4, Minnesota-Duluth 2

North Dakota 5, Notre Dame 2