BOSTON — A year ago today, UND lost a last-second game to Minnesota in the Frozen Four semifinals.
The players said all offseason long that they wanted to get back. Most teams say that. Most do not do it. This team did make it back, and tonight, they get another shot at doing it over.
Let’s be honest, there’s not a lot they would change from last year’s game other than the final few seconds. UND hopes to play a similarly complete game tonight and finish it off this time.
For starters, if you want to read some coverage today, go pick up a Herald. There’s 26 pages of college hockey in there, including three eight-page special sections. We break down most angles of the matchup between UND and BU, the profile of the goaltenders in Boston and there’s even a Q&A with Dave Starman.
Most of that stuff is not online.
For the stuff that is online…. check out all of the stories below for some video action to go along with it.
For starters, I wrote about UND’s recent history in the Frozen Four semifinals. It hasn’t been good. UND has lost five straight semifinal games going back to 2006. Can UND get past the semifinal pitfall this time? (Attached: Video of WDAY’s Dom Izzo and I breaking down the matchup).
I also compiled a notebook, where I touched on a lot of things from Wednesday’s practice, including an interview with Mark MacMillan, who watched practice from the bench in a track suit. Read that and watch locker room interviews/practice highlight footage here.
The Frozen Four this season has an East vs. West theme with the NCHC vs. Hockey East matchups today. The players talked to Tom Miller about the contrast in styles between the East and West. Read that here, and watch press conferences.
A lot of UND fans will be making their way to Boston today (or did last night) for the semifinal matchup. Perhaps none are more well known than Al Pearson. The Forum’s Chris Murphy wrote a story on Al and his battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
There’s plenty of national coverage out there, too, including stories from…
The Boston Globe (UND not fazed by BU’s home-ice advantage)
USCHO (UND selling out to block shots)
College Hockey News (Notebook)
And there’s lots more out there if you search around (especially on USCHO and CHN).
So, what should everyone expect tonight?
The big storyline revolves around UND trying to slow down BU’s top line, featuring Jack Eichel, Evan Rodrigues and Danny O’Regan. All three are extremely potent and offensive players, not just Eichel.
UND coach Dave Hakstol will have the last line change, so he can try to match lines if he wishes. If I had to guess, I’d say that he’s not going to super concerned about which forward line is out there with the Eichel line. There’s not much difference between UND’s forward lines anyway.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaching staff is paying close attention to matching ‘D’ though. If I had to guess, I’d say that the Troy Stecher, Gage Ausmus pairing would get the assignment most often. Both are very good in their own end and Ausmus can add some physicality.
UND certainly does not want to take many penalties tonight. BU’s power play is converting at 25.6 percent, ranking No. 2 nationally this season. UND did a pretty nice job, for the most part, in the regionals staying out of the box and took only one penalty in last year’s Frozen Four game.
The other key thing for UND is taking advantage when Eichel’s line isn’t out there. This is where UND needs to show off its depth. BU will definitely enjoy the ESPN TV timeouts, which are longer than the regular season, will allow more rest and will get Eichel’s line back on the ice more often.
The Vegas bookies say BU will win. The Terriers are -150 and UND is +115. Since my pre-tournament pick in the national championship game was Boston University and Providence, I can’t turn back now, can I?
BU 4, UND 2
Providence 3, Omaha 2
BU 4, Providence 1
I’ll pass along any updates from the afternoon and will shoot one more pregame video with Izzo.