The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are favored on Thursday night in the Frozen Four on ESPN 2, as they take on the Michigan Wolverines. These two are better known for their football exploits, but Michigan is no stranger to hockey titles, having won it all eight times. Notre Dame has never won the college hockey title, but they did make the Frozen Four last season and this year they are a No. 1 seed. Let’s look at the matchup and Frozen Four picks.
At 9:30 p.m. ET, tune into ESPN 2 for live television coverage of this game on Thursday, April 5, 2018, at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota
We'll have NHL odds at BookMaker.eu available for both Frozen Four games on Thursday.
The Fighting Irish are listed as -150 favorites with the total at 5.5 under. Notre Dame comes into this game averaging 2.94 goals on the season, while allowing 2.15 per contest. Their power play is at 22.8%, while their penalty killing is an outstanding 89.9%. Notre Dame rolled through the Big Ten this season and they can be very difficult team to score against. They have Cale Morris in goal and his .945 save percentage was the best in the nation this season. When Notre Dame scores first they are tough to beat, as they went 21-2-2 when scoring first. The concern with Notre Dame is offense, as their leading scorer had just 13 on the season. They do have a lot of depth but if they fall behind they really don’t have a marquee scorer.
Michigan averages 3.41 goals per game but they allow 3 per contest. Their power play is weak at 18%, and their penalty killing is poor at 75.3%. They are all about offense, as they were 7th in the nation in goals per game. Cooper Marody had 16 goals and 34 assists this season. Michigan needs goaltender Hayden Lavinge to play well, as the Wolverines give up a lot of shots and a lot of scoring chances.
These teams met four times this season with each team winning twice. The Wolverines swept Notre Dame in a home and home back in February in the most recent meetings between the teams. Three of the four games went under the total with Notre Dame winning by scores of 2-1 and 2-1, which Michigan won 4-2 and 1-0.
The Wolverines are known for offense, but their most important player might be defenseman Quinn Hughes who could go in the top five of the NHL Draft. He had 28 points in 34 games this season and was on the ice a ton this season. The key man for Notre Dame is Cale Morris who could be the difference in a close game. He has been the best goalie in the country this season and he should win the Mike Richter Award this season as the top college goaltender.
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This game is offense vs. defense, as the Wolverines have more offensive talent than Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish are much better on defense. I am usually one to favor defense over offense when the playoffs get down to the end, regardless of the sport, and college hockey is no exception. I definitely favor Notre Dame in this contest, as they have the ability to shutdown Michigan’s offense. The key is how well Michigan goaltender Hayden Lavinge plays. He could do enough to keep Michigan in this game and he has plenty of experience facing the Fighting Irish. I still lean with Notre Dame in this contest, as they also have the edge in special teams against Michigan, but I will hedge a little bit and also play the game to go under the total of 5.5.
Frozen Four Odds: Notre Dame 3, Michigan 2
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