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From the mothership, the video which Duluth fans will be playing over and over for years to come:
They always say you remember your first….
After fifty long years of having a hockey program, twenty-seven years since a four-overtime loss in the NCAA championship game and three other Frozen Four trips, the University of Minnesota-Duluth can finally call themselves college hockey’s best team. The Bulldogs won their first NCAA Championship Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center over the University of Michigan with a 3-2 overtime victory in front of 19,222 screaming fans. Kyle Schmidt scored the winning goal for Duluth 3:22 into the extra period off of a Travis Oleksuk pass.
"I didn’t do a whole lot," Schmidt said. "My linemates were working their butts off in the corner. Luckily it was a gimme because I was too late to bury anything else."
The game started off well for the Wolverines, as they were able to draw first blood. After a goal by Carl Hagelin was waved off due to the whistle being blown, Ben Winnett scored his fifth goal of the season (and second of the Frozen Four) right off a faceoff with 5:18 left in the first to give Michigan a 1-0 lead. That has normally been enough for Red Berenson’s team as they were 22-1-3 this season after scoring the first goal but the Bulldogs rallied for two goals in the second. The first came from Oleksuk, who scored right inside the circle 1:39 into the period and scored the first goal on Michigan’s Shawn Hunwick in fifty-five shots.
The second goal came eight minutes later from unlikely goal scorer Max Tardy. Tardy, a freshman fourth-line forward scored his first collegiate goal on the powerplay (which he wasn’t even on a month ago) off of his own rebound. Michigan tied the game at 2 towards the end of the period with a goal from one of their own fourth-liners, Jeff Rohrkemper, and the game stayed that way with both goalies standing tall until Schmidt’s goal in overtime.
The big difference in tonight’s game was once again special teams. Although Michigan became the first team to successfully shut down the Bulldogs power play, the Wolverines put themselves in a whole by going shorthanded nine times. Three players had two minor penalties and eight of the ten overall penalties were taken by underclassmen. While Duluth only scored once (way below their tournament average of 33.8%), the added pressure of having to skate with four men so many times did eventually eat away at Michigan. They were out-shot 38-24 and allowed Minnesota-Duluth to skate past them and be the better team for most of the evening.
In addition, Duluth was able to overcome Michigan keeping the Bulldogs’ first line of Jack Connolly, Mike Connolly and Justin Fontaine off the scoreboard. The three teammates have each put over fifty points and eighteen goals but the Bulldogs relied on the depth of their team to score. After the game, Duluth coach Scott Sandelin commented on this, saying "part of the reason….early in the year we needed to find someone like a J.T. Brown come in as a freshman and be an impact player. And we put him in the positon, and he had a phenomenal year, obviously, phenomenal game tonight."
And with the play of J.T. Brown, of Justin Faulk, of the Connollys and Fontaine and most importantly of Kyle Schmidt, it’s no surprise that the Bulldogs reign supreme in 2011.
Other Quotes and Notes:
The Frozen Four All-Tournament Team
G Shawn Hunwick Michigan
D Justin Faulk UMD
D Jon Merrill Michigan
F Ben Winnette Michigan
F J.T. Brown UMD
F Kyle Schmidt UMD
Most Outstanding Player: J.T. Brown UMD
-Schmidt was the only player on the Bulldogs who did not dye his hair due to a wedding. Like Grant Potulny (the only non-Minnesotan on the 2002 Gophers), he scored the winning goal.
-This was the fourth consecutive Frozen Four in St. Paul to head to overtime.
-Thursday’s semifinal games rated a 0.24 (early game) and 0.40 (late game) on ESPN2
-Minnesota-Duluth is the third consecutive team to win a national championship in their home state when given the opportunity. The two others are Minnesota (2002) and Wisconsin (2006).
-Jack Connolly joins his brother Chris, who won a national title with BU in 2009 as national champs.
-Both the Twins and Wild plan to honor Minnesota-Duluth tomorrow.
-Schmidt on being asked if he had to give back the National Unsung Hero Award: "I guess if I have to, I will. I’ll take a national championship any day of the week."
-J.T. Brown on the crowd: "It’s kind of hard not to get up and play 100 percent when you have 19,000 people. So I just feel like the crowd, played off the crowd and the crowd was great today."
Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs Lines
Mike Connolly – Jack Connolly – Justin Fontaine
Kyle Schmidt – Travis Oleksuk – J.T. Brown
Mike Seidel – Jake Hendrickson – Joe Basaraba
Keegan Flaherty – Max Tardy – David Grun
Justin Faulk – Mike Montgomery
Wade Bergman – Brady Lamb
Drew Olson – Trent Palm
Kenny Reiter (starter)
Michigan Wolverines Lines
Carl Hagelin – Louie Caporusso – Chris Brown
Scooter Vaughan – Kevin Lynch – A.J. Treais
Ben Winnett – Matt Rust – Luke Glendening
Luke Moffatt – Jeff Rohrkemper – Derek DeBlois
Jon Merrill – Chad Langlais
Kevin Clare – Greg Pateryn
Lee Moffie – Mac Bennett
Shawn Hunwick (starter)
-Michigan is wearing their yellow third jerseys and UMD is wearing road maroon
-Once again, Brandon Burlon is out for Michigan
-There are no changes in either team’s lineup from Thursday.
Remember to follow me throughout the game on Twitter @gopherstate
Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (25-10-6) vs. Michigan Wolverines (29-10-4)
Time: 6 P.M. CDT
Location: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.
TV: ESPN HD and ESPN3.com. Gary Thorne and Clay Matvick have the call.
Like the basketball tournament last weekend, few people had Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan reaching the final in their brackets. Both teams have made their case for being the national champion by taking down favorites Yale and North Dakota and are certainly worthy of winning the Frozen Four. It does make things interesting though given that neither team feels as if they are the favorite tonight. The Bulldogs are playing 150 miles away from their home and have the benefit of being Minnesota’s team, but the Wolverines showed on Thursday that they are able to deflate a “home crowd” after beating North Dakota.
On the ice, both teams need to play better than Thursday if they want to win. Minnesota Duluth got off to a shaky start, giving up a goal to Notre Dame on their first shot, and had to withstand a bombardment by the Irish in the third period, being out-shot 15-2. Michigan was out-shot 40-20 by North Dakota in their game Thursday night and heavily relied on goalie Shawn Hunwick.
The Wolvcrines have history on their side, with nine titles to the Bulldogs’ zero, and won two titles since Minnesota Duluth’s last title game appearance in 1984 (the Bulldogs lost to Bowling Green 5-4 in 4 overtimes) but haven’t reached a final since 1998. So this is a new position for every player involved.
What this game comes down to: Minnesota-Duluth’s powerplay v. Michigan’s defense
These have been the two calling cards of each team. The Bulldogs are a remarkable 34.7% in the NCAA Tournament and have used special teams to win each of their three games. Michigan on the other hand has eschewed their offense (having scored four or more goals in twenty-two games) for defense as the Wolverines have given up one goal in the last eight periods. Hunwick, a 5’7” former walk-on (he would have been the third-string goalie if Jack Campbell didn’t bolt to the OHL at the last minute) is one of the great stories of the tournament. He has helped lead Michigan this far, but can he stop the potent Duluth power play featuring Mike Connolly, Jack Connolly, Justin Fontaine, J.T. Brown and Justin Faulk?
Whichever team wins this battle should win the game although other factors like Michigan’s top line of Carl Hagelin, Louie Capourusso and Chris Brown (held goalless against North Dakota) against Reiter and the first goal (Michigan is 22-1-3 when scoring first) can also play a role.
By the numbers:
NCAA Titles: 0
Frozen Four Appearances: 4
NHL Draft Picks: 4
Leading Goal Scorer: Mike Connolly (28)
Leading Point Total: Jack Connolly (59)
Record when scoring 3+ power play goals: 6-0-0
Record in one-goal games: 9-5-0
Record when being outshot by an opponent: 5-3-1
Number of 30 point players: 6
NCAA Titles: 9
Frozen Four Appearances: 24
NHL Draft Picks: 13
Leading Goal Scorer: Carl Hagelin (18)
Leading Point Total: Hagelin 49
Record when scoring first: 22-1-3
Record when being outshot by an opponent: 9-3-1
12-1 in last 13 games
MIchigan leads Minnesota Duluth 24-10-6 (15-8-5 in WCHA – the Wolverines were members until 1981)
Last Meeting: Oct. 13th 2001 (UMD won 3-2)
First of all, if you are not following the main SB Nation site, they are covering the Frozen Four from afar. Check them out, they’re doing a good job and are worth the read.
The Frozen Four is a breed of its own. Over the last decade, regardless of location, college hockey’s championship has sold out NHL-sized arenas (and half of Ford Field). Fans from colleges big and small make the trip each year, as the Frozen Four has become a gathering for college fans near and far. Unlike most sporting events, it’s about celebrating the game and the NCAA does a great a job of promoting this atmosphere with small touches like posting all 58 jerseys around the concourse and the FanFest.
While this year’s Frozen Four was lucky enough to have two teams within four hours of St. Paul, plenty of teams were represented in the stands. I was able to count twenty-six different college jerseys just walking around the arena and looking down from the press box. There were plenty of North Dakota, Notre Dame, Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan jerseys but they were also jerseys from Minnesota, Niagara, Alaska, Bowling Green, RPI, Boston College, Ohio State and Yale. So although the crowd – especially in the second game – was full of green North Dakota jerseys, there were plenty of dedicated hockey fans regardless of affiliation.
This picture was taken outside the Xcel Energy Center at 1:50 PM. Doors didn't open until 3 PM.
Power Play Propels Bulldogs To Title Game
As mentioned in the game recap, special teams were the difference in the early game. Minnesota-Duluth went three for six on the power play but let Notre Dame back into the game when Calle Ridderwall scored a shorthanded goal 2:05 into the third period. Despite that blemish, watching the Bulldogs’ power play is a thing of beauty in lieu of the fact that their special teams was overlooked during the NCAA selection show. While many teams have a lot of speed, just watching them move their feet (which was the reason for so many penalties according to forward Jack Connolly) and move the puck from player to player. Even on the three powerplays Minnesota-Duluth did not score, they were still able to create multiple scoring chances.
While the goal scorers get a lot of glory, a lot of credit has to go to powerplay quarterback Justin Faulk. The freshman defenseman now leads the nation in scoring which keep teams honest with his slapshot and he has a vision of the ice that few at his age have. Best of all, Faulk is playing for a national championship minutes away from his home in South St. Paul. Not too many players get to live that dream.
On the Notre Dame side, the Irish were unable to play a sixty-minute game. They scored a quick goal on a flustered Kenny Reiter along with T.J. Tynan using the lively boards to beat him to the puck but weren’t able to take advantage of it despite having a hot goalie in Mike Johnson. The game changed when Reiter settled and bailed Brady Lamb out of a horrible giveaway with forty-five seconds left in the first and unfortunately for Notre Dame they couldn’t stop taking penalties. Irish coach Jeff Jackson mentioned after the game that his team wasn’t used to the officiating crew and that the WCHA officials in the regionals were different, but at the same time it wasn’t an excuse and Notre Dame lost to the better team.
Hunwick Ends North Dakota’s Quest For Title
Strangely enough, the game that featured two hot goalies had seven goals and the game that featured an offense that scored twelve goals in two games was a physical defensive battle. Although Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick deserves a lot of credit for stopping all forty shots, the Wolverines’ defensive play should come as no surprise. In the last eight periods, the team has only allowed one goal and the defense has rallied around the absence of Brandon Burlon.
For North Dakota, there was a twenty-minute period between the final eight minutes of the second period and the final eight minutes of the third (when the Wolverines killed their fourth powerplay) where it looked like it was not a matter of if but when they would tie up the game. Starting with an amazing left-to-right save by Hunwick, the WCHA champs were in control and became the aggressors. Unlike the North Dakota banner at the Xcel (which was blowing back and forth), the team did not want to wave a white flag and until Scooter Vaughan scored an empty net goal the feeling was that this was still their tournament to win.
After the game, Coach Dave Hakstol was adamant that he did not see this ending, stating, "I mean, just going to bluntly honest. I don't think anybody in our locker room considered the option of losing down the stretch. Period." For senior Derrick LaPoint, the sting of the loss was so much that he couldn’t bear to take off the jersey he wore for four seasons twenty minutes after his collegiate career ended. Despite winning two trophies earlier in the season, ending in the same position as fifty-seven other collegiate hockey teams meant the season was a disappointment.
Other Quotes And Notes:
-Thursday’s attendance was 19,139. It’s the third highest arena total with the other two also being at the Xcel Energy Center.
-Notre Dame forward Riley Sheahan had 14 penalty minutes this season. He had six in Thursday’s game.
-When asked about taking over the scoring lead for defensemen, Justin Faulk said, "It’s a pretty good feeling. I go out there and try to play pretty solid defensively against the other team’s top lines and when points come offensively, they come."
- Reiter on moving past allowing the first two Notre Dame goals: "You want to stop the bleeding. I’m playing my best when I’m on top of my crease being aggressive.
That’s what I try and focus on no matter what happens."
-North Dakota forward Corbin Knight: "It’s just one of those nights where the bounces weren’t going our way. It’s just unfortunate that tonight had to be one of those nights."
-Brock Nelson’s injury was the third time he had to be helped the ice this season. The first time happened at the World Juniors and the second was on the same ice at the WCHA Final Five.
-Michigan forward Ben Winnett was icing his wrist in the post-game conference; the product of the Wolverines blocking shots during North Dakota’s final flurry.
- Winnett on the team’s powerplay: "I always say your goaltender is going to be your best penalty killer, and he was that this evening. And as far as the rest of the guys, they just worked hard and I think we out worked their top players."
With the ceremony just wrapping up at the Xcel Energy, Miami forward Andy Miele was awarded the 2011 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s top player. Leading the nation with 71 points, Miele was chosen over fellow finalists Boston College forward Cam Atkinson and North Dakota forward Matt Frattin. He becomes the first RedHawk and seventh CCHA player to win the award, which is chosen based upon the following criteria:
1. Candidates must exhibit strength of character both on and off the ice.
2. Candidates must contribute to the integrity of the team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game.
3. Consideration should be given to scholastic achievement and sportmanship.
4. Candidates must comply with all NCAA rules: be full time students in an accredited NCAA college or university; and complete 50% or more of the season.
Despite the large North Dakota contingent once again coming away with a different than they were hoping, there was a bit of good news for the Sioux faithful (who were very classy tonight after last night's faux pas). It was announced that Frattin signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs (who drafted him in the 4th round of the 2007 NHL Draft) and would be suiting up for the Leafs in their final game this season. He joins both Miele, who recently signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, Atkinson, who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and thirty other NCAA players who have signed pro contracts after the season.
And then there were two.
Notre Dame 3
After an exciting evening of hockey, Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan will face off Saturday evening for the NCAA Hockey Championship. In the first game, the Bulldogs were able to dispatch the Fighting Irish 4-3 behind three powerplay goals by J.T. Brown, Mike Connolly and Jack Connolly. Notre Dame was able to come back in the third period with an early shorthanded goal by Calle Ridderwall but Minnesota-Duluth withheld a 15-2 shot advantage by the Irish and advanced to their second-ever Frozen Four. The first was twenty-seven years ago against Bowling Green where the Falcons won 5-4 in four overtimes.
North Dakota 0
The second game was in every way the opposite of the early game as defense and goaltending ruled the night. Michigan senior goalie Sean Hunwick stopped all forty shots he faced and the Wolverines were able to outlast North Dakota 2-0. After killing two early penalties, Michigan senior Ben Winnett had the first goal 13:26 in the first while Scooter Vaughan added an empty netter and send the green-and-white partisan crowd home dejected. North Dakota also had to play most of the game without freshman Brock Nelson as he was taken off the ice in a stretcher.
I’ll have more about both games, including quotes from the coaches and teams, tomorrow along with a couple other Frozen Four pieces.
National Semifinals Line Combinations – my apologies for not getting them up before Game #1 but we’ve had internet difficulties in the press box.
Game #1 – Notre Dame v. Minnesota-Duluth
Anders Lee-Riley Sheahan-Billy Maday
Jeff Costello-Ben Ryan-Ryan Guentzel
Calle Ridderwall-T.J. Tynan-Bryan Rust
Nick Larson-David Gerths-Mike Voran
Joe Lavin-Stephen Johns
Shayne Taker-Sean Lorenz
Kevin Lind-Sam Calabrese
Mike Connolly-Jack Connolly-Justin Fontaine
Kyle Schmidt-Travis Oleksuk-J.T. Brown
Mike Seidel-Jake Hendrickson-Joe Basaraba
Keegan Flaherty-Max Tardy-David Grun
Justin Faulk-Mike Montgomery
Wade Bergman-Brady Lamb
Drew Olson-Trent Palm
Game #2 – Michigan v. North Dakota (7:07 CDT ESPN2)
Carl Hagelin-Louie Caporusso-Chris Brown
Scooter Vaughan-Kevin Lynch-A.J. Treals
Ben Winnett-Matt Rust-Luke Glendening
Luke Moffatt-Jeff Rohrkemper-Derek DeBlois
Jon Merrill-Chad Langlais
Kevin Clare-Greg Pateryn
Lee Moffie-Mac Bennett
Evan Trupp-Brad Malone-Matt Frattin
Jason Gregoire-Corban Knight-Brett Hextall
Brent Davidson-Brock Nelson-Danny Kristo
Mario Lamoureux-Carter Rowney-Derek Rodwell
Derek Forbort-Ben Blood
Andrew MacWilliam-Chay Genoway
Derrick LaPoint-Jake Marto
-Michigan is playing without defenseman Brandon Burlon who was a gametime decision
-North Dakota is scratching forward Dillon Sampson
If everything went to plan, Chay Genoway would not be at the Xcel Energy Center this weekend. The fifth-year senior had his 2009-2010-season end prematurely after suffering a concussion against St. Cloud State in the captain's ninth game. With a chance to head to the pros as undrafted free agent, Genoway instead decided to take a medical redshirt and to Grand Forks for one last chance at a national championship. Now back in St. Paul for his third Frozen Four, Genoway has no regrets about coming back. "It has been a fun ride so far," Genoway said. "Hopefully we have a lot of memories to come."
Of course, the decision to return is much easier to make when one is returning to a lineup as dangerous as North Dakota. Whether it is senior Brad Malone, junior Jason Gregoire or sophomore Danny Kristo, opposing teams must be careful. Pick one player or line to zone in on and another will make them pay. And then there is Hobey Baker finalist Matt Frattin who led the nation with thirty-six goals a season after being thrown off the team.
Between the pipes for North Dakota is sophomore goalie Aaron Dell, whose play this season cemented him as the number one goalie over incumbent Brad Eidness. Dell has especially played well recently, only giving up one goal in the two regional games and keeping North Dakota alive in the first overtime of the WCHA Final Five Championship.
Conference: Western Collegiate Hockey Association
Record: 32-8-3 (21-6-1 WCHA) WCHA Regular Season Champion
Road to the Frozen Four:
WCHA Tournament Champion (#1 Midwest)
Defeated RPI 6-0 in first round
Defeated Denver 6-1 in regional final
Why North Dakota will win their eighth national championship: It is their tournament to lose. North Dakota is presently on a fifteen-game unbeaten streak, has won both the MacNaughton Trophy (as the WCHA regular season champs) and Broadmoor Trophy (as the WCHA Final Five champs) and is playing four hours from home. Coach Dave Hakstol has his squad operating on all cylinders and despite the added media attention the team has had no egos creep in. Plus it's hard to bet against a team which beat their opponents, including a team which took North Dakota to double-overtime a week before, by a combined score of 12-1.
Why North Dakota won't win: Again, it is their tournament to lose. In a single-game elimination tournament, the best team often doesn't win and no one knows that better than North Dakota. They have been to the Frozen Four five times since their last NCAA hockey championship in 2000 and have suffered some devastating losses (including two blowouts by Boston College) on the big stage. If North Dakota does not play a full sixty minutes, the other teams in the Frozen Four will make sure that they pay.
For the Michigan seniors, coming back to St. Paul for their second Frozen Four in four seasons is poetic. In 2007, the Wolverines came to the Xcel Energy Center to play in the season-opening Icebreaker Tournament with Boston College, Minnesota and RPI. Now they have the opportunity to end their careers where it started and bring home a record tenth NCAA hockey championship.
Everything starts up front for the Wolverines this season. Led by their three top scorers (and seniors) Carl Hagelin, Louie Caporusso and Matt Rust, Michigan is a team which can light the lamp; having score or more goals twenty-one times this season. However as good as the three seniors are, the Wolverines are able to spread scoring around. That has paid off as sophomore Kevin Lynch has stepped up recently scoring two goals against Nebraska-Omaha in the first round.
On the other spectrum, their blue line has star freshmen Jon Merril and Mac Bennett along with junior Brandon Burlon. Burlon is a game-time decision tonight after suffering esophagitis four weeks ago and his presence has been missed. Between the pipes is Shawn Hunwick.
Conference: Central Collegiate Hockey Association
Record: 26-10-4 (20-7-1-0 CCHA) and CCHA regular season champs
Road to the Frozen Four:
At large bid (#2 West)
Defeated Nebraska-Omaha 3-2 (OT) in First Round
Defeated Colorado College 2-1 in Regional Final
Why the Wolverines will win their tenth national championship: In two words, Red Berenson. The legendary coach has been to eleven Frozen Fours and has won two championships. If anyone can get their team to be firing on all cylinders against North Dakota, it is he. In addition, the Wolverines have also proven themselves against WCHA competition, going 4-2-1 against the conference this season, and defeating Nebraska-Omaha and Colorado in the West Regional.
Why the Wolverines won’t win: Michigan is playing North Dakota in the heart of WCHA country. While the players expect a hostile atmosphere and thrive playing in it, the composition of the crowd should be an interesting story. Also, as much can be made about the veteran leadership, North Dakota counters Michigan veteran leaders with a senior class of their own. Then there’s trying to break a fifteen game unbeaten streak…
In the words of defenseman Mike Montgomery, "It is a good time to be a Bulldog." This is the first Frozen Four appearance for the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs since 2004 and it comes at the right time. Xcel Energy Center may not be brand-new Amsoil Arena but the Bulldogs will take some home-state cooking at this year’s Frozen Four. Scott Sandelin’s squad is hoping to follow the lead of the last two teams who played a Frozen Four in their home state (Wisconsin in 2006 and Minnesota in 2002) and finally win the school’s first national championship.
Despite that, the Bulldogs players don’t feel as if being the only team left from Minnesota and playing 150 miles from Duluth in St. Paul has lead to any extra pressure. Goalie Kenny Reiter is approaching the Frozen Four "with a business-like attitude;" an approach shared by his teammates. Each of them (with the exception of Kyle Schmidt) has bleached their hair in an effort to bond. It’s a decision that has surely paid off so far as the team has rallied past the defection of defenseman Dylan Olsen midway through the season.
Conference: Western Collegiate Hockey Association
Record: 24-10-6, (15-8-5 WCHA)
Path to the Frozen Four:
At large bid (#3 seed East)
Defeated Union 2-0 in First Round
Defeated Yale 5-3 in Regional Final
Why the Bulldogs will win their first national championship: Beside the fact that the Frozen Four is in Minnesota and the last two teams who played in their home state won, Duluth has been special teams play. In the two tournament games, the team has scored five powerplay goals while their penalty killed a 5×3 against Yale and held Union’s strong powerplay off the scoreboard in nine opportunities. If the Bulldogs can continue that type of special teams play and get the two Connollys (Jack and Mike) and Justin Fontaine going, they will put themselves in a great position to win their first title.
Why the Bulldogs won’t win: Size. Duluth has eleven players shorter than six feet and another seven at that height. Teams can win with speed in college hockey (just look at Boston College over the past few seasons). However compared to the Irish who have four defensemen over 6’1" and North Dakota’s physical play, the Bulldogs’ strength can be neutralized.
This afternoon, each team had a few representatives and their coach go in front of the media to answer a variety of topics. Here are some of the quotes from Michigan and North Dakota (Notre Dame and Minnesota-Duluth can be found here).
Wolverines Coach Red Berenson on being in Minnesota and the crowd support:
“It is interesting that this senior class played their first ever college game in this building [as part of the Icebreaker Tournament]. We are proud to be here and we want to put our best foot forward in this tournament. Our program has been in this tournament since I have been here 11 times, only getting to the championship twice.
I think [the Minnesota fans] will root for Michigan. I know the animosity between Minnesota and North Dakota. If it was a game at Michigan State, they would be cheering for North Dakota. We have to play our best game of the season, no matter who is here.”
Forward Louie Caporusso in regards to having played against a hostile crowd in this building and how that has prepared him to play against North Dakota:
“North Dakota is going to have a lot of fans here, but we’re not concerned about the rink or who is coming, we are just concerned with how we are going to play. We have played in these types of atmospheres before; where the other team is bring a lot of noise. I don’t think it has affected us before. We like playing on the road, so if it’s a hostile atmosphere, so be it.”
Berenson on why Michigan can win against North Dakota:
“Stranger things have happened. You need good goalkeeping, good penalty killing, good back checking, good play coming out of your zone and you need to be opportunistic. We know they are a better team, but we are going to come and play hard."
Senior forward Matt Rust on the excitement of his parents on having two sons (Matt’s younger brother Bryan plays for Notre Dame) in the Frozen Four:
“Its kind of an interesting story just to see where Notre Dame has come and their path getting here is similar to my freshman class. I think it’s more special for my family, for my parents, to really just enjoy the experience and my friends, for all of them to get down here and have two sons in this. I couldn’t think of, if I was a parent, how happy I would be to have both of my boys in the game. I’m happy for him but at the end of the day, I’m going to take my time and be a little selfish. I think this is my time and hopefully my brother can respect that and we can go on our separate ways.”
Senior Carl Hagelin comparing the differences in Michigan’s team as a freshman compared to now.
“Maybe this year we are more of a team then we were our freshman year. Back then we had more of a core group of players [i.e. Kevin Porter] scoring all the goals and this year we are better defensively and if we want to do better that’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Coach Dave Hakstol’s thoughts on playing Michigan:
“I have a great deal of respect for their program, the history and tradition of their program, and the success that they’ve had. More specifically, I have a significant amount of respect for their team this year and the accomplishments they’ve had over the long haul of this year winning the CCHA and how well they are playing right now. They’re a complete hockey team in every sense of the word and a complete hockey team that is playing very well. We’re looking forward to the challenge tomorrow night and a great hockey game. We’re going to have to be at our best at the drop of the puck tomorrow night.
I think there are a lot of stars on their hockey team. I think they are very deep and have a ton of good players throughout their lineup. They have a high skill level and they have a very competitive skill level.
We’ve done our regular pre-scout and pre-game meetings in the lead-up during the week, nothing more and nothing less. We’ve prepared ourselves to come out and play as well as we can play. We’re trying to prepare ourselves to play our best game of the season tomorrow night, that’s the way we’ve tried to prepare.”
Forward Jason Gregoire on returning to Xcel Energy Center after a strong showing at WCHA Final Five
“The Xcel Energy Center is a beautiful arena. If there is a rink out there that can rival Ralph Engelstad Arena it would be this one. I am looking forward to seeing our fans come out for the game tomorrow. At the WCHA Final Five our fans were unbelievable. It is going to be a really fun night for us.”
Chay Genoway on returning to UND for a fifth season (Genoway was given a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending concussion):
“It has been a great experience so far. Obviously last year was a tough one for me personally. Just to have the chance to do it over again has been pretty special. For this year’s senior class to take me and to have the opportunity to join their class has been a pretty cool thing. They are a group of six guys that are pretty tight knit. It has been a fun ride so far and hopefully we have a lot of memories to come.”
Brad Malone in regard to North Dakota’s consistent play over their 15 games unbeaten streak:
“We focus at the task at hand. What is behind us is behind us. I don’t think that is what is pushing us. We are focused on tomorrow and getting a win and that is all that really matters.”
This afternoon, each team had a few representatives and their coach go in front of the media to answer a variety of topics. Here are some of the quotes from Notre Dame and Minnesota-Duluth (I’ll have Michigan and North Dakota later).
Head Coach Jeff Jackson on the single-elimination format of the NCAA Tournament:
"That’s the nature of NCAA tournaments. When you get in to one-game situations, it is just a matter of which team goes out and plays play 60 solid minutes of great discipline, as far as not taking unnecessary penalties, and does a great job of creating scoring chances, and denying scoring chances. One shift can be the difference in a game."
Jackson on the superb goaltending of sophomore Mike Johnson:
"Mike is a character kid, one of the things he is going through is that he had never truly been a number one goalie, and last year he was just thrown into it. He had top five numbers in the country in the first half last year before fading out. This year he took a positive step, he was much better in shape, and worked hard in the offseason. He had some stellar games this year."
Senior captain Joe Lavin’s thoughts on coming through the Hockey East Conference in the East Regional (Lavin is from Shrewsbury, MA):
"Obviously for me that was really exciting. I don’t get to play in front of family and friends as much as I would like to. Playing new teams like that can be a challenge, but I think we handled it well. The focus turns more on you than it does on them because you haven’t seen them play. We just played our game and focused on what we needed to do, but we used our skill and our speed, so that was good. Borrowing tickets from these guys,
I had like 35 or 40 people there, so that was obviously the highlight of my weekend."
Senior Ben Ryan’s advice to the team’s Freshmen:
"As much as you can focus on playing our game and doing what we did to get us here is the most important thing. I think when you get into an atmosphere like this and as a player you feel like maybe you need to do more or play out of your comfort zone. And if we start doing that then I think we will be at a disadvantage. I’ve been really proud of the guys this year. A lot of guys have taken on smaller roles who probably weren’t used to it. Every guy knows there role and has played it well this season."
Senior Gabe Guentzel’s thoughts on Coach Jackson, and what makes him so successful:
"Well I think his preparation is second to none. He prepares his team from day one each week, and make sure we are focused and ready to play. But he also adapts to the players, I know my first year he was strict, but now he has kind of loosened up and joked around with the freshman, and the freshman brought that attitude, he as even been joking around lately, which is different, but it has been a lot of fun to see that from him."
Head Coach Scott Sandelin on being in the Frozen Four:
"I think it’s a special time for our program, it’s our fourth time here in our program’s history. This group has had a goal to get here since last season. I’m extremely happy for these two seniors here that came back and have led us to this point. It’s a great opportunity for them to finish their careers on a note that we all want and that’s winning two hockey games. I know our community is excited and everyone associated with our program is excited to be here, but there is certainly a lot of work to be done here."
Sandelin on his team’s bleached hair:
"Any time the guys can buy into something like [bleaching hair], it shows what type of team you have."
Goalie Kenny Reiter on the early season view that goaltending wasn’t as important to team’s success:
"I definitely use that to inspire me. Some people questioned our goaltending coming into the year and hopefully I have silenced some of those critics. I just try and go out there and do my job. I don’t need to go out there and win games by myself. I am just trying to give our team the best chance to win every night."
Reiter in regards to any perceived pressure of being the only team from the state of Minnesota at Frozen Four:
"I don’t see that we have any added pressure being the home state team. There are four good teams in the tournament. We are comfortable with the support we are going to have. We are just approaching the Frozen Four with a business-like attitude."
Forward Justin Fontaine in regards to coming back for his senior year instead of turning pro:
"We’ve came up short the last two years. But had the edge to come back and be in our building. It was an exciting time to come back early August to come for our goal and that’s being here and that’s where we made it and it’s been a great ride."
Defenseman Mike Montgomery on the play of Goalie Kenny Reiter:
"As a defenseman, it starts with him. When he is confident it brings confidence to the rest of the D-core. We feel we can play more aggressive and know Kenny has got our backs. He has been solid all season, but really been something else this postseason."
For the second time in four years, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have made it to the Frozen Four. A school not traditionally known for hockey, Notre Dame has become a relevant force to be reckoned with in a short time frame. For a school that had never made the NCAA Tournament before 2004, the Irish have won two CCHA regular-season titles, two CCHA tournament titles and are looking forward to a new on-campus rink. Most of the credit has to go to Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson, who won two national titles with Lake Superior State.
At the same time, Notre Dame has also dealt with some of the other issues of being a program on the rise. Two blue-chip prospects left the Irish early (or in the case of Jared Tinordi never made in on campus), following a trend started with current Anaheim Duck Cam Fowler last season. Despite that, Notre Dame has been able to overcome adversity and make it to St. Paul.
University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Conference: Central Collegiate Hockey Association
Record: 25-13-5 (18-7-3-2 CCHA)
Path to the Frozen Four:
At-large bid (#3 seed Northeast)
Defeated Merrimack 4-3 OT in First Round
Defeated New Hampshire 2-1 in Regional Final
Why the Fighting Irish can win their first national championship: They are hot at the right time. Anders Lee, T.J. Tynan and goalie Mike Johnson have all played well since Notre Dame ended the regular season 2-4 and began Tournament play. As coach Jeff Jackson said, "it’s a one game situation where anything is possible. If you play sixty solid and disciplined minutes, our team will win."
Why the Fighting Irish won’t win: Youth. This year’s team features three seniors who were in Denver three years ago; however Notre Dame’s lineup feature twelve freshmen. Although the Irish are happy with the chemistry of their team, the hot play of two freshmen (Lee and Tynan) can cool off on the big stage . In addition, Notre Dame is 0-2-1 this season against the WCHA, including a 6-3 loss to North Dakota.
-3 players (Freshman Anders Lee [Edina], Sophomore Nick Larson [Apple Valley] and Senior Ryan Guentzel [Woodbury]) are from the state
-Junior defensemen Nick Condon is the brother of Gophers forward Nate Condon
-The Minnesota Wild in the 4th round of the 2008 Draft drafted junior defenseman Sean Lorenz
The guys over at Western College Hockey have compiled an excellent list of Frozen Four articles. There are some great articles in there, including previews of the final four teams and interviews with each coach, and I recommend checking it out.
One of the greatest showings of dedication I’ve seen from a sports fan. The Hagen family travels 11,000 miles for Frozen Four for their Duluth Bulldogs. (Pioneer Press)
College Hockey News looks at the different Frozen Fours in the 80s, 90s and 200s which have been contested in St. Paul. There’s a theme of Michigan, Minnesota and Boston teams which looks good for the Wolverines Bulldogs and
BU or BC.
From Gophers hockey PR guy Paul Rovnak’s twitter feed, Every single college hockey jersey.
Duluth news and notes from Bulldogs radio guy Bruce Ciskie.
And finally, there’s also the obligatory Gophers article in the Star Tribune despite Minnesota not being in the Tournament.
The Frozen Four may be sold out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see the teams practice before their national semifinal games. The practices are at the Xcel Energy Center Wednesday, April 6 and open to the public.
11 a.m.-12 p.m.- Notre Dame practice
- Minnesota Duluth practice
1:30-2:30 p.m.- Michigan practice
2:45-3:45 p.m.- North Dakota practice
The Frozen Four isn't just a means of deciding Hockey's National Champion, it is a celebration of Hockey at the Collegiate level. The festivities will include handing out the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the best player in the Nation. Here are the ten nominees, from the Award's official website.
Alphabetically, they are: Cam Atkinson, Boston College, Carter Camper, Miami of Ohio, Jack Connolly, Minnesota-Duluth, Matt Frattin, North Dakota, Andy Miele, Miami of Ohio, Gustav Nyquist, Maine, Chase Polacek, RPI, Justin Schultz, Wisconsin, Paul Thompson, New Hampshire and Paul Zanette, Niagara.
The field will be narrowed down to three on March 31, and the winner will be announced on Firday, April 8; the day between the semi-finals and finals of the Frozen Four. It is one of many events scheduled for that day including an autograph session with the two finalists, an open skate with Collegiate hockey legends and the announcement of the All-American team. Check out the University of Minnesota's athletic site for a full schedule of the Weekend's events, and head over to NCAA.com for ticket information.
The 2011 NCAA Hockey Tournament, more commonly known as the Frozen Four, will be played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul from April 7-9. After a wild weekend of hockey, the field is set, and we know which teams will be vying for the National Championship. Here is the schedule.
Minnesota-Duluth Vs. Notre Dame, 4 p.m., ESPN2:
Minnesota-Duluth advanced to the Frozen Four with a (somewhat surprising) 5-3 victory over Yale, the Tournament's top overall seed. They got three power play goals in that game to help them advance. Notre Dame advanced with a 2-1 win over New Hampshire on Sunday. This is Notre Dame's first Frozen Four appearance since they were beaten by Boston College 4-1 in the 2008 National Championship game.
North Dakota Vs. Michigan, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2:
North Dakota showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in this Tournament with a 6-0 victory over RPI on Saturday, and a 6-1 win over Denver on Sunday. Michigan had a 2-0 lead over Colorado College in the third period, and was able to hold on for a victory to advance to this stage.
The finals of the tournament will be played on Saturday, April 9.
The final two Regional Final games were played on Sunday, and the Frozen Four field is now set. Let's take a look at the results.
Midwest Regional Final:
North Dakota 6
This game was tied about after the first period, but North Dakota scored two goals in the second frame and three in the third to run away from Denver, and earn a spot in the Frozen Four. The scoring was incredibly balanced for the Fighting Sioux as their six goals came from six different players. Chay Genoway didn't have a goal of his own, but he did register three assists.
Northeast Regional Final:
Notre Dame 2
New Hampshire 1
While the final score suggests this might have been a close game, Notre Dame scored the first two goals of the game, and looked like they would maintain control throughout. Notre Dame goalie Mike Johnson made 37 saves on 38 shots to help lead the Irish to a Frozen Four berth.
The busiest day of the Tournament produced the first two Frozen Four finalists in Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan along with four other winners in North Dakota, Denver (which creates a rematch of the WCHA Final Five championship), Notre Dame and New Hampshire.
East Regional Final:
The Frozen Four will have a local Minnesota flavor; however instead of the Gophers it is their neighbors to the North representing the State of (College) Hockey after a 5-3 win over Yale. Duluth’s first Frozen Four since 2004, the Bulldogs were able to defeat the Yale Bulldogs 5-3 due to once again taking advantage of penalties. After Yale failed to convert on a 5×3, Duluth scored three power play goals in the second period to build an insurmountable 5-1 lead.
West Regional Final:
Colorado College 1
Michigan was able to make a 2-0 lead in the third period hold and defeat their second WCHA opponent in as many days. Penalty calls were aplenty as both teams went 1-7 on the poweplay but goals by Scooter Vaughn and Lee Moffie were enough for the Wolverines to reach the Frozen Four for a record 24th time.
North Dakota 6
A close game for twenty minutes turned into a blowout as North Dakota ran rampant on the Engineers of RPI with four second-period goals and a 21 save performance by Aaron Dell. North Dakota now faces Denver in a rematch of the WCHA Final Five final which they won in double overtime.
Western Michigan 2
Jason Zucker scored 11:14 into double overtime to complete a late rally for Denver. After being down to Western Michigan 2-0 with five minutes left and the Broncos looking to be the fourth consecutive team to upset the Pioneers, Denver came back with goals by Kyle Ostrow and Matt Donovan to tie the game at two. After back and forth action in the extra periods, Western Michigan’s first tournament appearance in fifteen years ended in disappointment as Zucker’s goal in Denver’s second consecutive double overtime game gave the Pioneers their first tournament win since their seventh national championship in 2005.
New Hampshire 3
Mike Sislo’s goal thirty-nine seconds into the third period alongside Kevin Gourmas’ two goals gave the Wildcats a 3-1 victory over top seed Miami. After giving up a goal in the first minute, New Hampshire clamped down on the RedHawks behind New Hampshire goalie Matt DiGirolamo’s 21 saves. The host Wildcats (with the regional being held in Manchester, NH) now play Notre Dame for a Frozen Four berth.
Notre Dame 4
Anders Lee’s second goal of the night 5:18 into overtime proved to be the difference as the Fighting Irish overcame a shaky first period to beat Merrimack. After being down 3-1 to the Warriors in the second period, Lee was able to score his first goal before Notre Dame took over in the third period and overtime.
Two powerplay goals from Kyle Schmidt and Justin Fontaine and 32 saves from Kenny Reiter was the difference as Minnesota-Duluth beat the Union Dutchmen 2-0. The Bulldogs are now one win away from playing for a national championship in their home state.
Air Force 1
After seeing the likes of Denver, Michigan and Minnesota upset by the Atlantic Hockey champion in recent years, #1 overall seed Yale was able to avoid becoming another victim with a 2-1 overtime win. The Bulldogs, who two years earlier lost to Vermont in Bridgeport, survived thanks to Chad Ziegler stuffing home his own rebound 3:16 into the extra session.
Colorado College 8
Boston College 4
The only true upset of the day, fourth seed Colorado College overcame a Jimmy Hayes goal nineteen seconds into the game and destroyed the defending national champions 8-4. Boston College had no answer for the Tigers as their top line combined for ten points and four goals and gave up two shorthanded goals. Colorado College now looks to dethrone another perennial contender in Michigan and advance once again to St. Paul for their first Frozen Four appearance since 2005.
With a little help from the Puck Gods and instant replay, the Wolverines were able to defeat their former CCHA rival in overtime after a review from the officials gave Kevin Lynch a game-winning goal and his second of the night. The Mavericks got out to a 2-0 lead with first-period goals by Rich Purslow and Alex Hudson but Michigan was able to come back and tie the game in the second. After a scoreless third, Nebraska-Omaha’s postseason hopes were dashed after officials looked into Lynch’s shot and overturned their non-call on the ice.
The 2011 NCAA Hockey Championship (better known as the Frozen Four) will be played April 7-9 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The NCAA announced the 16 teams that will play this coming weekend for a spot in the final four, and the tournament gets started this weekend. The guys over at SB Nation have the brackets.
EAST REGION -- Bridgeport, Conn.
No. 1 Yale Bulldogs vs. No. 4 Air Force Falcons (Friday, 5:30 p.m., ESPNU)
No. 2 Union Dutchmen vs. No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (Friday, 2 p.m., ESPNU)
MIDWEST REGION -- Green Bay, Wis.
No. 1 North Dakota Fighting Sioux vs. No. 4 RPI Engineers (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN3.com)
No. 2 Denver Pioneers vs. No. 3 Western Michigan Broncos (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN3.com)
WEST REGION -- St. Louis, Mo.
No. 1 Boston College Eagles vs. No. 4 Colorado College Tigers (Friday, 8 p.m., ESPNU)
No. 2 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 3 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (Friday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN3.com)
NORTHEAST REGION -- Manchester, N.H.
No. 1 Miami (Ohio) Redhawks vs. No. 4 New Hampshire Wildcats (Saturday, 3 p.m. ESPNU)
No. 2 Merrimack Warriors vs. No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Saturday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN3.com)
For more information on the schedule of events for the tournament, and how to get tickets, you can check out the University of Minnesota Athletic site. We'll be updating this stream on the teams that make it to the Frozen Four, and the event itself.
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