The semifinal game between North Dakota and Michigan will involve two of the most storied schools in college hockey. Michigan’s nine NCAA championships leads the field; North Dakota’s seven titles ties the Fighting Sioux with Denver for second place.
The contestants in the other semifinal, Notre Dame and Minnesota-Duluth, have zero national championships compared to Michigan and North Dakota’s combined 16.
“That’s the nature of NCAA tournaments,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “Just look at what happened with women’s basketball. [None of the top seeds, some near-prohibitive favorites, reached the championship game.] That’s what makes it unique and special. You’re talking about one-game situations.
“I was talking to [Michigan coach] Red Berenson earlier today. He figured if they had an opportunity to win their regional, they’d probably have to go through Boston College. We probably thought we were going to have to go through Miami.
“Because it’s a one-game situation, anything’s possible. I’m sure the same thing happened to Minnesota-Duluth with Yale.
“When you get into one-game situations, it’s just a matter of which team goes out and plays 60 solid minutes of great discipline, as far as not taking unnecessary penalties, and does a great job of creating scoring chances, and denying scoring chances.
“It’s 60 minutes. If you lose focus for 10 minutes or one shift, it can be the difference in a game. It’s a matter of being prepared.
“The championships by the two traditional powers are all well and good, but in the end it’s going to come down to who performs best on the weekend.”