Chicago Blackhawks defenseman prospect Dennis Gilbert and Notre Dame will play Big Ten foe Michigan in the second semifinal in the Frozen Four on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The No. 1-seeded Fighting Irish of the East Regional will play No. 2 seed Wolverines of the Northeast Regional at 8:30 p.m. after fellow No. 1 Ohio State from the Midwest Regional plays No. 3 seed Minnesota-Duluth from the West Regional in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPN2. The winner of each semifinal game will meet in the national title game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Buckeyes are in the Frozen Four for only the second time in program history, with their first appearance coming 20 years ago in 1998. Boston College cruised past Ohio State 5-2 that year before falling to Michigan in the championship game. Minnesota-Duluth is back in the Frozen Four for a second straight year and sixth time overall. The Bulldogs are hoping to avenge last year’s title game loss to Denver and claim their second title since 2011.
Like Minnesota-Duluth, Notre Dame is making its second straight Frozen Four appearance and fourth overall, all of which have come with head Jeff Jackson behind the bench. The Irish fell to eventual national champion Denver in last year’s semifinal at the United Center in Chicago. Notre Dame’s lone Frozen Four victory came in 2008 against Michigan before they fell to Boston College in the title game.
Michigan, however, boasts the most NCAA titles at nine, but they haven’t won one since 1998. They’re back in the Frozen Four for the first time since 2011 in their first season under head coach Mel Pearson, who took over the program after legendary coach Red Berenson retired.
Gilbert, a 2015 third-round pick, blocked a team-high five shots and had two shots in Notre Dame’s 2-1 win over Providence in the regional final. The former Chicago Steel defenseman had four blocked shots and one shot in the Irish’s 4-3 overtime victory over Michigan Tech in the regional semifinal round.
While Gilbert is the lone Blackhawks prospect in the Frozen Four, he’s not the only one with Illinois ties left in the tournament. There are 10 Illinois natives, including five for Notre Dame, playing for a national title. Of those 10 players, four of them played for the Chicago Steel in the USHL like Gilbert.
D, Sam Piazza (Darien and Steel alum)
F, Alex Roos (Prairie Grove and Steel alum)
F, James Sanchez (Northbrook)
F, Pierce Crawford (Park Ridge)
D, Tory Dello (Crystal Lake)
F, Jack Jenkins (Lake Bluff)
D, Bobby Nardella (Rosemont)
D, Justin Wade (Aurora)
D, Matt Joyaux (Bloomingdale and Steel alum)
F, Tanner Laczynski (Shorewood and Steel alum) *Flyers prospect
How to watch
All games are streaming live on the WatchESPN app.
Thursday, April 5
Semifinal 1: Minnesota-Duluth vs. Ohio State, 5 p.m., ESPN2
Semifinal 2: Notre Dame vs. Michigan, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday, April 7
Championship: Semifinal winner 1 vs. Semifinal winner 2, 6:30 p.m. ESPN2