The Notre Dame hockey team will be returning to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit next week to defend their 2007 CCHA tournament championship.
The Irish advanced on Sunday night by winning game three of their best-of-three series with Ferris State by a 2-1 score in front of 2,257 at the Joyce Center. Dan Kissel and Ian Cole scored for the Irish while Jordan Pearce stopped 24-of-25 shots to earn his 20th win of the year.
Adam Miller had the lone goal for Ferris State while Mitch O'Keefe had 25 saves on the night. The loss ended Ferris State's season with an 18-16-5 win.
Notre Dame will now play at Joe Louis Arena on Friday, March 21, facing the second-seeded Miami RedHawks in one semifinal game while top-seed Michigan will face sixth-seed Northern Michigan in the other game. The Wildcats advanced to Detroit by upsetting Michigan State, 3-2 in overtime, in game three of their series on Sunday evening.
The first period featured some wide-open action with Notre Dame out shooting Ferris State, 14-11. The Irish would strike first at 2:31 of the opening period with Kissel getting his eighth of the season.
Justin White, who missed the first two games of the series due to illness, worked the puck free in the right wing corner and banked it to defenseman Teddy Ruth in the right circle. Ruth fired a low shot at O'Keefe that went off his pads and rebounded into the slot where Kissel fired it into an open net for the 1-0 lead.
Ferris State answered back less than two minutes later when Adam Miller scored his ninth of the year at 4:16.Miller came down the right side and worked his way toward the goal. He got Pearce to go down and was able to flip the puck over the sprawling goaltender to tie the game at 1-1.
The score would stay that way until the second period. Just 39 seconds into the period, the Bulldogs Matt Case was whistled off for interference. The Irish struck 13 seconds later as Cole beat O'Keefe on the power play just 52 seconds into the period.
Ben Ryan found Cole in the high slot and the freshman defenseman tucked a one-timer over O'Keefe's glove and under the cross bar for his seventh of the season and third in the last two games.
Pearce and O'Keefe took over from there, holding each team off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
The game-three win marked the fifth time in the program's CCHA history that Notre Dame won a game three in a best-of-three series. The last time occurred in 2003-04 when the Irish defeated Western Michigan in game three in overtime at the Joyce Center.
This marks the seventh time in 15 CCHA playoff appearances that Notre Dame has advanced to play in the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena. Last season, the Irish won both games at "The Joe," for their first-ever CCHA tournament championship.
** With his win on Sunday night, Jordan Pearce became just the fourth goaltender in Notre Dame history to win 20 games in a season. He joins David Brown (29 in 2006-07), Lance Madson (24 in 1987-88) and Mark Kronholm (20 in 1972-73). On the year, Pearce is 20-12-4.
** After combining for 33 penalties and 74 minutes in game two of the series, referee Matt Shegos called just 13 penalties for 26 minutes in game three. Ferris State was 0-for-3 on the power play while Notre Dame was 1-for-4.
** Notre Dame finished the home schedule with an 11-4-3 record at the Joyce Center. The Irish were 13-2-2 last season. The 11 wins marks the 12th time in the program's 40-year history that the Irish won 11 or more games at home.