Gameday final: Minnesota 2, UND 1

TONIGHT’S VIEWING: ESPN2. No webcast. Lineup notes: No surprises. Full lines and live chat are below.

First period

No scoring.

Second period

No scoring.

Third period

Minnesota 1, UND 0 — Sam Warning (Kyle Rau) 10:51. The Gophers get a puck to the slot area with traffic and it eventually goes to the side of the net, where Warning picks it up with his backhand and puts it behind Gothberg.

Minnesota 1, UND 1 — Connor Gaarder (Dillon Simpson, Jordan Schmaltz) 11:23. Gaarder skates the puck up the left wing on a rush and flips a backhand that Wilcox stops. The rebound is sitting next to the side of the net and Gaarder slaps at it. It goes off of Wilcox and in to tie the game.

Minnesota 2, UND 1 — Justin Holl (Kyle Rau, Brady Skjei) 19:59 (sh). UND losses in stunning fashion, giving up a shorthanded goal with less than a second left. The Gophers start a rush shorthanded. Rau’s shot is blocked by Schmaltz, it goes right to Holl, who puts it just inside the right post.

UND’s lines

9 Drake Caggiula–16 Mark MacMillan–15 Michael Parks
28 Stephane Pattyn–19 Rocco Grimaldi–27 Luke Johnson
21 Brendan O’Donnell–13 Connor Gaarder–11 Derek Rodwell
29 Bryn Chyzyk–17 Colten St. Clair–22 Andrew Panzarella

18 Dillon Simpson–24 Jordan Schmaltz
5 Nick Mattson–6 Paul LaDue
4 Keaton Thompson–2 Troy Stecher

31 Zane Gothberg
33 Clarke Saunders

Minnesota’s lines

11 Sam Warning–7 Kyle Rau–24 Hudson Fasching
16 Nate Condon–25 Justin Kloos–13 Taylor Cammarata
14 Tom Serratore–22 Travis Boyd–17 Seth Ambroz
21 Connor Reilly–27 Gabe Guertler–19 Vinni Lettieri

2 Brady Skjei–12 Justin Holl
5 Mike Reilly–6 Jake Parenteau
10 Ben Marshall–20 Michael Brodzinski

32 Adam Wilcox
1 Michael Shibrowski

Thursday morning reading

PHILADELPHIA — I just took a taxi cab back to the hotel, rode the elevator up to my room and plopped down in my chair with a cheese steak from Geno’s.

Well, what’s left of it, anyway.

It was quite a busy first day at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia. Every other Frozen Four that I’ve covered, we traveled on Tuesday. This time, we didn’t go until Wednesday, because we had the Forum’s plane.

We got in just in time for UND’s practice, which was rather routine. This seemed like the same, loose group that went to Minneapolis three weeks ago and Cincinnati two weeks ago.

Who knows what the end result will be, but this is clearly a team that is not up tight.

The most entertaining part of practice is always the shootout and there was some buzz when Michael Parks went three-for-three to win it, including a top-shelf backhand. Brad Berry also created a buzz by scoring on his first two attempts.

If you want to read a lot of content, we have two eight-page sections inserted into today’s Herald. I’m told that the stories are not going to be available on the web, so go pick up a Herald if you want a lot to read.

There are also a couple of stories that are on the Herald’s site, including a quick scene-setting piece on practice and a notebook, which tells you why The Voice, Tim Hennessy missed UND’s last Frozen Four.

There is a ton of good content all over the place (the media room was rather crowded today). Check the regulars, and for some more features.

I did want to mention one CHN piece about UND’s team meeting that helped right the ship. There were some interesting quotes from Rocco Grimaldi in this one. Grimaldi said things got heated and personal in the meeting.

Now for my picks.

I will start by saying that it won’t surprise me in the least if any of the four teams win the national championship this weekend. That’s the way college hockey is these days.

UND vs. Minnesota

The Gophers are the more skilled team. They will try to play an up-and-down game and use their outstanding skating ability to beat UND. I’m guessing UND would like to play it a bit more close to the vest and rely on its strong D-corps and goaltending to knock off the Gophers.

In the end, I think Minnesota is the more complete team here. The Gophers are statistically better than UND in nearly every category. The big difference between this Gopher squad and past ones is that they defend much better. Ultimately, I think UND’s run ends in the semifinals.

Minnesota 4, UND 1

Union vs. Boston College

The Eagles will get all the hype. And why not? They have won four national titles since 2001.

But Union is the quiet monster of the group. The Dutchmen haven’t lost a game since January. Nobody has even been within a goal of them in about two months now. That’s incredible. Union’s worst loss this year? It was a one-goal game (excluding ENGs).

I think Union plays a tight defensive game, it slows down Boston College enough and the Dutchmen reach the title game.

Union 3, Boston College 2, OT

The final

Union keeps up its dominant play and becomes the third team in four years to win its first national title.

Union 3, Minnesota 2

And here are two photos from Philly. The first is the Forum Communications team heading to Philadelphia on the Forum’s plane. It features members from the Herald, the Forum and WDAZ TV. From left to right: Myself, Tom Miller, Michael Yoshida, Dan Corey, Lori Weber Menke. David Samson, our photog of course, is taking the photo.

And, the second, is myself, Matt Schill and Andy Parr making a trip to Geno’s and Pat’s. I tried Geno’s. Schill and Parr tried Pat’s. We hope to be back again tonight.

Check back through the day for any updates, a video blog and, as always, the live chat. For me, this 23 hour, 30 minute day is over. See ya.

UND practices in Philly

UND held its practice this afternoon at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

It was a fairly routine day-before-the-game practice. The team held the weekly shootout and the winner was none other than Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Michael Parks, who went top shelf on the backhand to draw a buzz from his teammates.

Parks beat out assistant coach Brad Berry in the final.

Former UND players Chay Genoway and Brett Bruneteau were both at practice and chatted with the coaches afterwards.

The teams held a presser later on. The Herald will have full coverage from Philly on the website tonight.

UND Sports Zone Show: Preview of men’s hockey at Frozen Four

Legend Serge Gambucci dies

Serge Gambucci, a legend in the North Dakota hockey and tennis world, died in Grand Forks on Tuesday night. He was 91 years old.

Gambucci coached Grand Forks Central to 10 consecutive state hockey championships and has been one of the state’s most influential hockey figures.

He is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and an arena in Grand Forks bears his name. The trophy that goes to the best hockey team in town also bears his name.

Gambucci also coached the Knights to multiple state tennis championships as well.

Here’s a story on the Herald site.

Gambucci played a significant role in developing hockey in North Dakota, which will see three of its alums play in the Frozen Four this weekend.

Feel free to post any memories of Gambucci in the comment section.

Four-seed success

There’s a story on this going in Thursday’s special section, but there’s one interesting stat that pops out about the NCAA tournament recently: No. 4 seeds have had their fair share of success in reaching the Frozen Four.

Since 2009, No. 4 seeds have reached the Frozen Four at double the frequency of No. 2s or No. 3s. Top seeds have been the most successful at reaching the Frozen Four.

Why is that? It’s tough to peg any reason other than the increased parity in the game, which leads to uncertainty in the tournament.

You can see the change in the NCAA tournament if you look at Frozen Four participants by seed. Let’s start by looking at 2003, when the NCAA started going with the current, 16-team setup.

Frozen Four participants by seed from 2003-05

No. 1 seeds — 8
No. 2 seeds — 3
No. 3 seeds — 1
No. 4 seeds — 0

As you can see, at first, the higher seeds dominated as you would expect. Then, in 2007, things started to change.

Frozen Four participants by seed from 2006-08

No. 1 seeds — 3
No. 2 seeds — 3
No. 3 seeds — 5
No. 4 seeds — 1

Through the first six years of the current setup, only a single No. 4 seed reached the tournament. In the last six years, six have made it.

Frozen Four participants by seed since 2009

No. 1 seeds — 12
No. 2 seeds — 3
No. 3 seeds — 3
No. 4 seeds — 6

Seven make CSB draft rankings

Seven UND recruits are on the Central Scouting Bureau’s rankings of draft eligible North American players.

Forward Nick Schmaltz, the brother of UND defenseman Jordan, leads the way. He’s ranked No. 19 among skaters. USA Today wrote a little bit about him today in breaking down the top American players available.

Others in the rankings:

100 – Austin Poganski, F
132 – Shane Gersich, F
149 – Ryan Mantha, D
167 – Rhett Gardner, F
169 – Zach Yon, F
207 – Chris Wilkie, F

The big jumps in the Central Scouting rankings came from Gardner and Yon. Neither were in the midterm rankings. Wilkie fell from 111 to 207 in the final rankings.

The only one of these players who is guaranteed to come in next season is Schmaltz. Most of them are expected to come in 2015, though that could change during the next couple months.

The NHL Draft is in Philadelphia in late June.

Departure day arrives

UND will head to Philadelphia today on a charter plane, bound for its sixth Frozen Four in the last 10 years.

The team will get settled in its hotel and practice at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. That practice is free and open to the public. UND goes from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Minnesota goes from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

After practices, there are press conferences.

I got a look at UND’s jerseys with the Frozen Four patches on them today. Because of the big NCHC patch on the chest area, the Frozen Four patches will be on the left arm sleeve. There’s also a sticker on the back of the helmets.

UND will only be packing the green and black jerseys for this trip. Because it is the lowest-seeded team left in the tournament, it has no chance to wear the home whites, no matter how it plays out.

The Forum Communications team featuring journalists from the Forum, Herald and WDAZ will leave early Wednesday morning.

The Herald is putting out a 16-page Frozen Four section in Thursday’s paper. The stories aren’t going to be online, so you’ll have to get a copy to read them. I’ll post some details on the blog later this afternoon on how to order a copy if you are from out of town and want one.

One other programming note: There will be NO live chat on Wednesday afternoon. We will be busy covering practices out there. I’ll try to have some blog updates. We’ll also have plenty of video coverage from Philly.

Robertson to be next WCHA commish

Former Minnesota Wild executive Bill Robertson will be the next commissioner of the WCHA, the Herald has learned.

Robertson was the vice president of communications and broadcast for 11 years and is a native of St. Paul, Minn.

An official announcement will be held at the Xcel Energy Center at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow.

Robertson replaces Bruce McLeod, who led the league for the last 20 years. McLeod is retiring at the end of the season.