Thursday, April 9, 2009

Frozen Four Preview

The madness which is the NCAA Men's' Ice Hockey Tournament comes to its close this weekend in Washington, DC. In a tournament which saw three of four top seeds ousted in the opening round, several games decided in miraculous fashion, and with the #16 seeded team qualifying for the Frozen Four, we reach the end.

We'll preview the two match-ups and provide some worthless predictions. Remember, this is a tournament in which Donny Puck correctly picked two of the eventual Frozen Four teams, but also stated that the tournament did not have a lot of upsets on the table.

Semi-Final Game #1 - Thursday at 5pm EDT: Bemidji State vs. Miami (OH)


Bemidji State is the Cinderella team of Cinderella teams. The Beavers ended the season with an RPI in the low 30's and gained entry in the tournament as the recipient of the CHA automatic bid. They were the lowest seed in the tournament and became the first team from outside the major conferences (defined as the WCHA, CCHA, Hockey East, and ECAC) to qualify for the Frozen Four. On the surface, the presence of the Beavers is fluky on the surface. However, BSU is 12-2-1 in its last 15 games and dominated the Midwest Regional, outscoring Notre Dame and Cornell 9-2. They've been the recipients of puff pieces in the New York Times among other publications, and seemingly has the entire state of Minnesota behind it. Also, BSU is currently wooing the WCHA to grant the university admission to the conference, and one has to think an appearance in the Frozen Four helps its cause.

Miami (OH) is a feel-good story among itself, having dismantled Denver in the West Regional in the opening round and taking care of red-hot UMD in the final. The RedHawks have been to the NCAA tournament five out of the last six seasons under head coach Enrico Blasi, but this is the school's first-ever trip to the Frozen Four.

Key Storylines:

BSU - Does the Cinderella run stop here, or can they keep it going for one more game?

Miami - Who starts in goal? This USCHO article speculates who it may be, but Coach Blasi is non-committal.

Donny Puck Prediction:

Why not......Beavers in OT.

Semi-Final Game #2 - Thursday at 8:30pm EDT - Boston University vs. Vermont


Boston University comes into this tournament not only as the field's most talented team, but has to be somewhat stunned at the turn of events. Instead of facing off against a Notre Dame, Denver, or Michigan squad, they face conference rival Vermont, whom they have faced three times already this season. The Terriers took both games in Boston while the Catamounts won up in Burlington. BU is red-hot, fashioning a 22-2-3 record thus far in calendar year 2009, and the Terriers steamrolled Ohio State and squeaked past New Hampshire in the Northeast Regional to punch their ticket to Washington. Four-time national champion BU has not been to the Frozen Four since 1997, when they were runners-up to North Dakota in Milwaukee.

Vermont makes its second trip to the Frozen Four this year, and the first since 1996, when the Catamounts lost to Donny Lucia's CC Tigers in Cincinnati. The Catamouts won two cardiac affairs in the East Regional, coming from behind to defeat Yale in the first round and winning in double-OT against Air Force in the final. The Air Force game featured Dan Lawson's goal through the netting which sent UVM to the Nation's Capital.


BU - Can the Terriers put a stop to all the insanity and take care of business as the tournaments prohibitive favorite?

Vermont - Do the Catamounts have what it takes to eke out a win against a conference opponent?

Donny Puck Prediction:

BU wins in a tough contest.......setting up a BU/BSU, 1 vs. 16 final.


  • The Hobey Hat Trick was announced
  • North Dakota's Ryan Duncan, the 2007 Hobey Baker winner, signed with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers
  • New Hampshire's James van Riemsdyk signed with Philadelphia. He was the Flyers' top pick in 2007 (#2 overall behind Patrick Kane).

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