Michigan-Notre Dame hockey through the years
Though it has been three years since the Michigan hockey team faced off against Notre Dame, the two teams have a long history of playing each other.
Before 2013, the two teams played in the now-defunct CCHA, and a battle between the two traditional rivals was an annual contest. Even before that, the two teams both played in the WCHA.
With the two teams set to face off against each other once again in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Daily looks back at the biggest games in the historic matchup.
1. 3/10/1976: Michigan 8, Notre Dame 3; Notre Dame 5, Michigan 4
The first time Michigan and Notre Dame met in the postseason was the first round of the WCHA Tournament.
In a home-and-home aggregate series, Michigan took the lead in the series with an 8-3 thrashing the first night. The Fighting Irish came right back the second night, winning, 5-4, but their comeback effort wasn’t enough and the Wolverines moved on in the WCHA Tournament.
Michigan couldn’t extend its season any longer, though, losing to Michigan Tech the next weekend by scores of 4-2 and 6-5 in Houghton, Mich.
2. 2/10/1989: Michigan 6, Notre Dame 2
In South Bend, Michigan coach Red Berenson took on Notre Dame for the first time from behind the Wolverine bench.
Yet, this was before Notre Dame was an established program, and Fighting Irish coach Ric Shafer told the Daily at the time that his chances of beating Michigan were lower than his chances of winning the lottery.
“There’s no way,” Shafer said. “We’re a fledgling hockey club with four scholarships and they’re a highly skilled college hockey team and they’re rolling.”
The Wolverines jumped out to a 5-0 lead and didn’t look back, not for a while — Michigan won 31 of the next 35 matchups between the two teams.
3. 2/16/1996: No. 4 Michigan 5, Notre Dame 2
Playing at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the two teams squared off in a CCHA regular-season matchup. Led by forward Brendan Morrison, who would go on to win the Hobey Baker Award a year later, Michigan had to take on the Fighting Irish before a big showdown with No. 5 Michigan State the next night.
Just four minutes into the game, the two teams had a goal apiece, and the Palace crowd thought they were in for an offensive shootout. But Michigan was able to get on the board two more times in the first period with goals from Bill Muckalt and Matt Herr to take a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The Wolverines sealed the deal with an empty-net goal from Morrison.
While Berenson was not impressed with his team’s performance, telling the Daily he thought “(Michigan) played a mediocre game at best,” the Wolverines responded the next night with a 7-1 thrashing of the Spartans to take the lead in the CCHA standings.
Michigan would go on to win the national championship the same year — Berenson’s first title in Ann Arbor.
4. 4/10/2008: No. 5 Notre Dame 5, No. 1 Michigan 4 (OT)
Going into the Frozen Four matchup held in Denver at the Pepsi Center, Michigan had lost just four times all year and was the favorite to win the NCAA title.
But the game didn’t start off well for the Wolverines, as they went down 3-0 after one period. In a surprise move, Berenson pulled Bill Sauer, his starting goaltender, for freshman Bryan Hogan. The second period was a different story, though, and Michigan stormed back with goals from forward Chad Kolarik and Matt Rust to cut the deficit to two.
The Wolverines completed the comeback early in the third with another goal from Kolarik. Both teams scored another goal in the period to push the game to overtime, where Notre Dame’s Calle Ridderwall sealed Michigan’s fate with a shot that beat Hogan.
“It’s devastating,” Rust told the Daily at the time. “Just to see one shot end your season. I feel bad, but I feel worse for seniors like Chad (Kolarik) and Kevin (Porter). They’ve given it their all, and their one goal in college hockey was to win a national championship. It just sucks.”
The Fighting Irish would go on to lose to Boston College in the national championship.
5. 3/24/2013: No. 9 Notre Dame 3, Michigan 1
After a dismal 14-18-3 regular season record, Berenson’s squad needed a win in the CCHA Tournament to extend Michigan’s streak of making it to the NCAA Tournament to 23 years in a row.
After beating Northern and Western Michigan in the first two rounds, the Wolverines pulled off a huge upset against No. 3 Miami (Ohio) to set up a championship showdown with the Fighting Irish.
After a shorthanded goal from Derek DeBlois with a minute to go in the first period, Michigan had hope that it was going to extend the NCAA Tournament streak. But it wasn’t meant to be, and Notre Dame came back with three straight goals to win the CCHA Tournament title game.
“Even though the game was tied, they were right there, and they were all over us,” Berenson told the Daily at the time. “They didn’t give us much, and we didn’t get much, and that is how the game went on.”