09
Apr
09

NCAA Frozen Four Starts Tonight!!!

So, I don’t have enough knowledge of the four teams in the Frozen Four this year or enough time to break it down. However, don’t doubt that every member of the Loge will be watching this. There is nothing better than the Frozen Four, and that includes the lousy NCAA basketball National Championship. Note: After players make a great play in hockey, there is no jumping around acting like a lunatic. So if you’re looking for showboating, check out the NBA games tonight, not college hockey. Not to mention there are a few unreal NHL games on tonight with huge playoff implications. Notably Boston vs. Montreal.

…so I’ll defer to Rumors & Rants to help me out on this one…

R&R has a great break down of each team in the Frozen Four…enjoy….

From Rumors & Rants:

So, the NCAA basketball tournament is over. We’re on to baseball season in earnest. But what in God’s name are we going to do between now and the College World Series for NCAA sports entertainment?

Now for the preview, with predictions and everything!

Would anyone care for some hockey? Anyone? Anyone?

Well hey, it only lasts one more week, and this is it, so deal with it. And besides, it’s pretty damn exciting if you give it a chance. So please do.

The first two rounds of the NCAA hockey tournament were ridiculous — if you wanted upsets in basketball and didn’t get enough you should’ve watched hockey — and now the Frozen Four is set with no interference from the other, “more important,” tournament.

In my effort to make you look informed when you actually do watch this, here is my Frozen Four preview.

You should also know these things before we start: There are 58 Division I hockey teams, 16 of which make it into the single-elimination NCAA Tournament by either automatic or at-large bid. Four teams are placed in each regional and the winner of that site moves on to the Frozen Four.

The four teams still left standing are Boston University, Vermont, Miami (Ohio) and Bemidji State. Miami plays Bemidji in the first semifinal at 5 p.m. today and BU plays Vermont in the second semi at 8:30 p.m. Both games are on ESPN2.

 

The final is at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN. All the games are being played at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.

Boston University

Who they are:The Boston University Terriers have been one of the two best teams in the country all year long. They won the Hockey East regular season and tournament championships. Oh yeah, and they won the Beanpot.

How they got to the Frozen Four: BU is the only No. 1 seed to get past its first round game. The Terriers beat Ohio State 8-3 in the first game then edged New Hampshire 2-1 in the Northeast Regional final to advance.

The storyline: BU is the only top seed left and is the clear favorite going into the Frozen Four. The path to coach Jack Parker’s third national championship is wide open.

Player(s) to watch:BU is loaded up with talent, but leading the pack is Hobey Baker finalist Colin Wilson. The sophomore forward has 52 points (15-37) in 41 games and is a plus-18. He was a first round choice of the Nashville Predators in 2008. Also keep an eye on freshman goaltender Kieran Millan. He’s been studly all year long.

Bottom line:I just don’t see any way BU loses. There’s tons of talent in both zones and even though you don’t know what to expect from a freshman goaltender in the Frozen Four, Millan has been great all year.

Vermont

Who they are:The Vermont Catamounts have perhaps the best mascot in the Frozen Four. They finished in a tie for third in Hockey East and lost in the tournament quarterfinals to UMass-Lowell.

How they got to the Frozen Four: Vermont upended the East Regional host, Yale, 4-1 in its first game then scored 14 minutes and 10 seconds into the second overtime to beat No. 4-seed Air Force 3-2 in the regional final.

The storyline:Vermont is another Cinderella in this tournament, although when you’re a top-three team in Hockey East it’s hard to be called such a thing. The Catamounts are 2-1 against BU this year, winning both games in Boston. They certainly won’t be intimidated come puck drop time.

Player to watch:Viktor Stalberg. The junior forward is Vermont’s top scoring threat. He led Hockey East in goals (19) during the regular season and has 45 points in 38 games overall. He was a sixth round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006.

Bottom line: Any time you’ve beaten BU twice on the road you’ve got the chops to beat them at a neutral site. If there’s one team capable of of the upset it’s certainly Vermont. Don’t think it’s going to happen, but as crazy as this tournament’s been, it just might.

Miami University

Who they are:This is Miami University in Ohio, folks, not The U. Don’t think they play hockey on South Beach. The RedHawks hail from Oxford, Ohio, and play in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

How they got to the Frozen Four:Miami finished in a tie for second in the CCHA regular season and lost in the conference tournament quarterfinals to Northern Michigan, so they sneaked into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team with a No. 4 regional seed.

They upset top-seed Denver, 4-2, in the West Regional semifinal then beat Minnesota-Duluth, the No. 2 seed in the West Regional, 2-1, to punch its ticket to Washington D.C.

The storyline:Head coach Enrico Blasi played at Miami and beat his mentor, Denver coach George Gwozdecky, in the first round. Notre Dame was the first No. 4 regional seed to reach the Frozen Four last year, but either Miami or its opponent, Bemidji State, will make a No. 4 seed in the final for the second straight year.

Player to watch:Carter Camper. Camper is Miami’s leading scorer with 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists) in 38 games. The 5-foot-9 sophomore can fill up the scoresheet but is as yet undrafted.

Bottom line:Miami has shown all year it can play with the big boys with series sweeps over Notre Dame and Michigan and its postseason run. But it’s also had some weird losses (Clarkson, Army, Michigan State at home and losing twice in a row at home against Northern Michigan in the CCHA quarters after taking a one-game lead in the series. That said, Miami is more skilled than Bemidji. Then again, you should read about Bemidji first.

Bemidji State

Who they are:This is the fun part. There aren’t very many people that have heard of Bemidji State. The Beavers hail from upstate Minnesotaand won the tournament for soon-to-be-defunct College Hockey America to get into the NCAAs.

How they got to the Frozen Four:Bemidji was seeded dead last heading into the tournament and pulled a titantic upset in the first round, hammering No. 2 overall seed Notre Dame 5-1 in the Midwest Regional. It then beat Cornell the next night to advance to D.C.

The storyline: The Beavers are a legitimate underdog. They have something like one NHL draft pick on the roster, play in a conference that’s going to fold up after next season, come from a tiny town in upper-Minnesota and pulled off two major upsets to get to the Frozen Four. Two more wins would make them national champions and after next season they don’t even have a conference to play in.

Player to watch:Brad Hunt. The freshman defenseman has made an instant impact, especially quarterbacking one of the country’s best power plays from the point.

Bottom line:It’s hard to believe Bemidji has a chance against Miami, but then again everyone said that a coupole weeks ago against Notre Dame.

PREDICTIONS: Even though there’s been plenty of upsets to this point, I’m going with all chalk. Miami beats Bemidji in the first semi, BU beats Vermont in the second and the Terriers win another national championship for Jack Parker.

 

 

Great breakdown from NHL.com as well:

Strong BU squad will face familiar foe in UVM
Wednesday, 04.08.2009 / 2:00 PM / On Campus
By Michael Blinn  – NHL.com

 

There are plenty of reasons Boston University finished the season ranking tops in the country. There are reasons it won both regular season and postseason Hockey East crowns. Also, there are reasons that the Terriers were the only No. 1 seed to make it out of the Regionals and onto the Frozen Four.

The biggest and most compelling reason, however, starts with sophomore Colin Wilson. The bull of a power forward is arguably the most NHL-ready player in the college ranks, and is capable of putting the nation’s No. 1 offense on his back and carrying them all the way.

Nashville’s first-round pick in 2008, taken No. 7, has benefited from the likes of defenseman Matt Gilroy, a 24-year-old senior who will be the most sought-after NHL free agent once the tournament ends. Gilroy, a former forward who walked onto the team four years ago, quarterbacks the nation’s top power play but also anchors the third-overall defense with all the skills that make him one of the best all-around defensemen without an NHL connection.

Helping further shoulder the load is freshman goalie Kieran Millan, who stepped into a tenuous situation and immediately calmed the storm. Normally, a freshman goalie would be a big question mark, but you can bet that Millan is well aware that rival Boston College rode first-year goalie John Muse to a title last season.

Keys for BU:

While the team is capable of rolling four scoring lines every game, senior forwards Chris Higgins, Jason Lawrence and Brandon Yip are big-time contributors. Higgins and Lawrence are excellent compliments on a line with Wilson – Higgins has exceptional hands and playmaking abilities, and Lawrence can finish as well as anyone in the college ranks, as his team-high 21 goals will attest. Yip is the type of player that everyone can get behind – he’s got the power forward makeup that fans and coaches love. All three are in the top-50 nationally scoring-wise (joined by Wilson and sophomore forward Nick Bonino), are also defensively responsible, and play big factors in setting the tone for the rest of the team.

How the Terriers win:

BU scores early and often — there is only a difference of a few goals from period to period. The Terriers must set the tone early on and rattle the Catamounts, and then allow their high-octane power play (22 percent, second in the country) to cement things for them.


Familiar foe awaits

To get as far as it has, BU had to face a tough Hockey East league that sent four teams to the postseason, and getting to the Final will be no different. It faces a familiar league foe in Vermont, the country’s 11th-ranked team and winners of the East Regional, who went 2-1 against the Terriers during the regular season.

The Catamounts have made their name in recent years by being a strong defensive team – and it was no different this year. But the 16th-overall defense was complemented by the 17th-overall offense, anchored by junior forward Viktor Stalberg. The big Swede more than doubled his career numbers across the board, tallying 24 goals and 45 points on the season. Playing the yin to Hobey Baker candidate Stalberg’s yang is Peter Lenes, another in a long line of diminutive point-getters in Burlington. The 5-6 senior forward put up career bests in goals, assists and points over the season.

Keys for Vermont:

Goalie Rob Madore will be key to Vermont’s success in D.C. The freshman seized the starting job from junior Mike Spillane, and despite some rocky starts down the stretch, coach Kevin Sneddon has backed him all the way. Sneddon must hope that the hiccups are behind his netminder, and reinforce his team’s defensive accountability, if the Catamounts are to raise a championship banner in the Gutterson Fieldhouse next season.

How the Catamounts win:

To beat the Terriers, Vermont must play as perfect a game as possible; an early-season 7-2 drubbing at the hands of BU in Vermont set that reminder. It must also capitalize if it can catch BU in a lazy period, though you can be sure coach/legend Jack Parker will make sure his team knows better, as a shot at a national championship rides on a full 60 minutes of hockey. No doubt, every shift will be action-packed between these two.

TALE OF THE TAPE
April 9, 2009 – 8:30 PM ET
Boston University Terriers TEAM Vermont Catamounts
31-6-4 (#1) Record/Rank 20-11-5 (#11)
 22% (#2) / 87.5% (#10) Power Play/Penalty Kill
 16.9% / 81.3%
Colby Cohen (COL), Eric Gryba (OTT), Kevin Shattenkirk (COL), Brian Strait (PIT), David Warsofsky (ATL), Nick Bonino (ANA), John McCarthy (SJS), Vinny Saponari (ATL), Corey Trivino (NYI), Colin Wilson (NSH), Brandon Yip (COL), Grant Rollheiser (TOR)

TOTAL: 15

NHL Draft picks Kyle Medvec (MIN),
Viktor Stalberg (TOR)

TOTAL: 2

 20 (First since 1997, Natl Champs in ’71, ’71, ’78, ’95) Frozen Four Appearances
 1 (First since 1996)
In the Northeast Regional, the Terriers clobbered Ohio State, 8-3, then squeaked by New Hampshire 15 seconds from overtime, 2-1. How they got there In the East Regional, the Catamounts took down host Yale, 5-1, and then ousted Air Force in the second overtime, 3-2.
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1 Response to “NCAA Frozen Four Starts Tonight!!!”


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