The NCAA Frozen Four is set to kick off, and two historic programs will battle for a chance to play for the National Championship. The Boston Terriers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers will square off at 5 ET on Thursday in the first half of a semifinal doubleheader, all with a spot in the National Championship on the line.
Boston and Minnesota to show down in the NCAA Frozen Four Semifinal
Both teams made quick work of the team’s that played in the NCAA Regionals to get to the NCAA Frozen Four. Minnesota scored a combined 13 goals against Canisius and St. Cloud State, compared to 3 for their opponents to coast to a spot in Tampa. The Terriers easily defeated Western Michigan in the regional semifinals before beating Cornell, 2-1.
Fans of the movie “Miracle” may remember a central conflict in the movie being players from different colleges not getting along at first while training for the 1980 Olympics. The two schools were Boston and Minnesota. During the 1970s and 80s, there was no bigger rivalry in college hockey or in the NCAA Frozen Four. The 1976 national championship even ended in a massive bench clearing brawl.
SInce then, the rivalry has simmered between the Terriers and the Golden Gophers. However, that could all change on Thursday afternoon as everything is up for grabs in the NCAA Frozen Four.
The Golden Gophers have perhaps the best offense in college hockey. The Gophers have three of the best college hockey players in the country in first-round picks Jimmy Snuggerud, Matthew Knies, and Logan Cooley. The three players have been nearly unstoppable all season, and make up just a small but lethal piece of the Gophers’ attack.
The Gophers also have one of the best goaltenders in the nation in Justen Close, who has a .928 save percentage and a GAA of 1.99.
The Terriers, on the other hand, won with grit and tenacity. Luke Tuch and Matt Brown are two leaders on a team that is stocked with juniors and seniors. The Terriers also have a talented blue line anchored by Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson.
In the net is Chicago Blackhawks prospect Drew Commesso, who is having a slightly less impressive junior season compared to years past, with a .914 save percentage and a 2.41 GAA.
Prediction: The Minnesota Golden Gophers have been able to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis. With the advantage in net, the Gophers should be able to do it here as well.