No. 1 Notre Dame edges Michigan in CCHA Final

Kevin Porter put No. 9 Michigan on top in the final seconds of the first period, but that was all Michigan would get as their bid to upset No. 1-ranked Notre Dame fell just short in Saturday nights 2-1 loss to the Fighting Irish in the CCHA Finals at Joe Louis Arena. Michigan will learn its first round NCAA Tournament opponent tomorrow afternoon at 2:30.

When the Wolverines needed it the most, they couldn't buy a goal. After watching their 1-0 lead slip away in the middle of the second period, the No. 9-ranked Wolverines rang multiple shots off the goalpost, but never hit the back of the net, before succumbing to No. 1 Notre Dame 2-1 in the CCHA Championship game on Saturday night.

"It was a game that took different directions. I liked our first period, I thought we had some good chances even though we killed some penalties and they got us on our heels," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "But, the second period was all Notre Dame. In the third period it was anyone's game. It was a close game. Notre Dame is a hard-working team, and a good defensive team. The goals we can score against them are very precious in a game like this."

After struggling back and forth in the first period, Michigan went on top 1-0 with just six seconds left on the clock. Hobey Baker Award candidate T.J. Hensick fired a puck towards the Notre Dame net and the rebound came to Jack Johnson. Johnson eventually threw the puck to Kevin Porter between the circles, and Porter fired the puck past Notre Dame's sprawled out goalie, David Brown.

Notre Dame took control of the game in the second period. A pair of Michigan penalties provided the Irish with four minutes of power play time, and, despite killing the two penalties, the Irish used the time to take control of the game.

With 4:02 left in the period, Erik Condra tied the game 1-1 with his 14th goal of the season. Condra took a feed from behind the net just in front of the Michigan crease and fired the puck past Michigan goalie Billy Sauer.

The score was tied 1-1 following the second period, and Notre Dame held an edge in shots 24-18.

Michigan's best chance of the third period came toward the middle of the frame. Skating into the Notre Dame zone with a three-on-two rush, the puck made its way back to Jack Johnson between the circles. Johnson wound up for a slap shot and rang it off the right post.

Just a few minutes later the Irish went up 2-1. Jason Paige threw a shot at the Michigan net and Sauer misplayed the rebound opening the net for the Irish to put away their second goal of the night.

"It was a tough goal to give up. (Billy Sauer) normally would have handled that rebound easily. But he gave us a chance tonight," Berenson said. "He played hard and he played well, but we just couldn't get that goal back for him."

Michigan went back on the power play with a chance to tie the game in the final two minutes, but the closest Michigan would get was a second Jack Johnson shot that rang off the right post.

With the CCHA Tournament now over, however, the Wolverines can turn their focus on the NCAA Tournament and the Frozen Four, a place they haven't been the past three years.

"I feel good about our team. We should take something out of this game and this weekend. I think we are going in the right direction, and if we have the right attitude, no matter who we play, and no matter where we play next week, we could be a factor in the tournament."

Michigan will find out which NCAA Regional they will be on at 2:30 pm tomorrow. The selection show will air on ESPN2.

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