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NCAA Frozen Four: Minnesota-Duluth Looking For Some Home-Cooking

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.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.