2013 marked the end of the CCHA conference in collegiate hockey. Since its founding in 1971, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association has become arguably the most competitive conference in all of college hockey. Unfortunately, the league is disbanding following this season -- which makes the winner of this year's CCHA Tournament the champion for eternity.
Going into the semifinals, which were played in Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, there were four teams still fighting for the final Mason Cup: Ohio State, Note Dame, Michigan, and Miami (OH). Notre Dame played Ohio State first, then Michigan played Miami after. In the first game, Notre Dame got behind early giving up a goal not long into the first period. Not to be outdone, Notre Dame answered back quickly with a fast break goal from sophomore right wing, Peter Schneider. The first period ended in a 1-1 tie and the second period ended the same way, although Notre Dame dominated in shots on goal. The 1-1 standstill was ended by T.J. Tynan with a power play goal made at 3:50 of the third period. To certify their spot in the final game, Notre Dame's Jeff Costello made an open net goal making the score 3-1 Notre Dame and putting the game out of reach for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The Michigan Wolverines pulled off a surprising upset against the Miami of Ohio Red Hawks. The most exciting part of the second game was when Michigan went off on a goal spree, scoring three goals in a matter of two minutes in the second period. This put the game away early, punching Michigan's ticket to the finals against Notre Dame. Notre Dame and Michigan had played each other four times this year previous to the Championship game. Notre Dame had won all four of them. The stage was set, the crowd was pumped, and the two greatest college marching bands were there for the final CCHA championship to ever be played.
Notre Dame got behind early again and it didn't look good as Michigan scored a quick goal to go up 1-0 at the end of the first period. However, that would not work for Irish junior Anders Lee, as he evened up things with a goal in the second. The score was tied after two. The third and final period of the CCHA Championship game began and 29 seconds later, Austin Wuthrich of Notre Dame scored to put the Irish up 2-1 on the Wolverines. Steven Summerhayes played lights out goaltending. He stopped 20 of 21 shots on goal made by the Wolverines and he closed out a win for the Irish. And just so there was no doubt about who won the game, Jeff Costello of Notre Dame scored his second goal of the weekend to put the Irish up 3-1 and to make the Notre Dame Fighting Irish the final CCHA Champions.
Once Costello made his goal, it looked like a wave of yellow exiting "the Joe" as all of the disappointed Michigan fans left the arena. Notre Dame was once again CCHA Champions. This was the third CCHA Championship the Irish have won since 2007, and although it was their last one, what better way than to leave the conference than as the last champs to ever hoist the Mason Cup. That is something that will never be taken away from the Irish. And like one man near me said when they were raising the CCHA Championship banner into the rafters of the arena, with Notre Dame's name underneath, "That banner will never be taken down, making their championship immortal."