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…