Frozen Four Bound!

The No. 1 Michigan hockey team advanced to the Frozen Four with a 2-0 win over No. 10 Clarkson on Saturday night at the Union Center in Albany, N.Y. The Wolverines will skate against the winner of the West Regional which boasts Michigan State and Notre Dame in the final game. The national semifinals are scheduled for April 10 in Denver, Colo.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- No. 1 Michigan is going to the 2008 Frozen Four.

On the goals of freshman Aaron Palushaj and senior Kevin Porter, and backstopped by a 27-save shutout performance from goalie Billy Sauer, No. 1 Michigan downed No. 10 Clarkson 2-0 to improve to 33-5-4 on the season and punch the first ticket to the 2008 Frozen Four in Denver, Colo.

The first team into the Frozen Four, the Wolverines await the winner of tonights Michigan State vs. Notre Dame game to complete one half of the bracket.

Miami University, Boston College, North Dakota and Wisconsin are the four teams vying for the final two spots in the 2008 Frozen Four tournament.

It's the Wolverines 23rd Frozen Four in program history, tops in the nation.

After skating through most of the first period with a 0-0 score, Aaron Palushaj scored Michigan's first goal, a power-play tally, with 5:37 left. With the puck on the right side of the ice, Palushaj drew Clarkson goalie David Leggio down on the post before wrapping around the back and tucking it into the goal behind the sprawled out netminder to give Michigan what would stand as the eventual game-winning goal.

"It was a tough game. Everyone that has seen Clarkson seen play before probably knew their team better than we did, but we knew they'd be a great opponent, and they were," Michigan coach Red Berenson said.

"They were tough to play against. I thought the first goal was an important goal."

The second period started with the Wolverines wearing a path to the penalty box, but goalie Billy Sauer helped the Wolverines maintain the 1-0 lead with a dominating performance that saw the goalie turn aside a shot at point-blank range.

Michigan answered the threat with an opportunity of their own, but a 2-on-0 rush with Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik was unsuccessful as a bouncing puck cost Kolarik a scoring chance in the final minute of the period.

Michigan did capitalize on a scoring chance to make the score 2-0 just 26 seconds into the final period. Hobey Baker favorite Kevin Porter added to his NCAA-leading goal count with his 33rd goal of the season, and fifth of the NCAA Regional, by taking a feed from Max Pacioretty, skating behind the Golden Knights defense, and slipping the puck through the five-hole of Leggio for the games final goal.

Porter, who finished with six points on the weekend, now has 62 points on the season.

"The next goal was obviously a back-breaking goal," Berenson continued. "When Kevin Porter scored that goal on a great play by Kolarik and Pacioretty that really gave us the momentum we needed."

Both teams continued to create scoring chances over the final 19 minutes, but neither team would put the puck in the net as the game ended with a score of 2-0. Michigan goalie Billy Sauer turned aside 27 shots in earning his fourth shutout of the season and avenging a poor performance in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

"I was just trying to keep myself in front of the puck as best I could and keep them off the boards. If they had gotten one, momentum would've switched quite a bit," said the Michigan goalie.

The best Clarkson scoring chance of the game came in the final moments as the third-seed in the region skated with a 6-on-3 advantage.

Both Carl Hagelin and Steve Kampfer in the box for Michigan, the Golden Knights began throwing shots at the net with traffic in front of Sauer. Kolarik made a critical block, and Sauer got his glove on the rebound as the Maize and Blue cemented away the 2-0 win.

Michigan finished the weekend a perfect 11-for-11 skating with the penalty kill, at the same time netting three goals on the power play.

No. 1 Michigan awaits the winner of the West Regional final between Michigan State and Notre Dame to complete one half of the Frozen Four bracket. The Wolverines went 1-2-1 against Michigan State, including a 5-2 win in their last meeting, and 2-0-0 against Notre Dame during the regular season.

Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, Mark Mitera and Billy Sauer were each named to the All-Tournament team for their performances this weekend. Kevin Porter finished as the tournament MVP.

"Our goal all year was to be the number one team in the nation and so far we've done a good job protecting it, but it doesn't matter the rankings, the seeds, you can throw them all away when you get to Denver," Kolarik said.

The Frozen Four begins on Thurs., April 10, in Denver, Colo. ESPN2 will provide coverage of the tournament as the Wolverines take aim at a record 10th national title.

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