Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Rivalry Renews -- DDC's Frozen Four Semifinals Predictions

Alright, enough with the prognosticating, the analysis, the "my-team-is-better-than-your team", the nonsense, the memories and the tomfoolery.

It's finally game day.

DDC's little one is certainly ready for tonight. She'll be decked out in her "business suit" today.

After an exhausting 11 days of trudging through stats, comparisons and every angle of the rivalry, UND and Minnesota will finally face off  at 7:30 CST from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at the 2014 Frozen Four.

Thank God.

DDC has refused to make a prediction for this game during the longest 11 days that he can remember, because he's seen this rivalry bring out the best in both teams too many times.

Cliches are beloved by sports fans and this one is especially perfect for Thursday's game. "When these two teams get together, you can throw out the record books."

On paper, the general consensus from most covering this match up gives the nod to the Gophers. UND head coach Dave Hakstol noted early this week that Minnesota has "earned the No. 1 seed" and has played into the being the favorite. DDC agrees. Minnesota has been a dominant team for long stretches this season.

One thing Minnesota hasn't seen yet this season, in DDC's opinion, is a team that is similar to its own, up and down the lineup. The Gophers pride themselves on depth up front, as does UND; the Gophers herald a fast and skilled, puck-moving defensive corps, so does North Dakota; Minnesota has a talented sophomore goaltender, so do the Sioux.

Get the drift? These two teams are very equal. Throw in a rivalry game for a chance to play for a national championship and this game is nearly a toss up.

This is why DDC has had a tough time picking this game.

So, what is going to be the difference maker?

The last time UND made the Frozen Four in 2011, they expected to win a national championship. It's Minnesota's time in the spotlight, this year.

Will this cause Minnesota to be tight in this one? DDC think so. Pressure is the beast that no one likes to carry. It's hard to be the team that's "supposed to win."

North Dakota wasn't supposed to be in this position. They showed a loose style of play in their last three games (5-0 win over WMU in the NCHC third place game included). DDC thinks this is the difference maker.

UND plays with a large chip on their shoulder, sticks the pedal to the medal and stymies a potent Minnesota attack. That, and Gothberg plays the way he did against Ferris State.

UND 3, Minnesota 1

BC and Union face off in the early game at 4 pm CST in what should be a dandy. In a change from UND/Minnesota, these two teams are the opposite of each other in it's two opposite teams battling in this one. It'll be BC's offense, led by Hobey Baker winner elect, Johnny Gaudreau versus the stout Union defense led by Hobey Finalist Shane Gostisbehere. 

DDC called UND vs. Union at the start of the tournament. Why stop now? Union will have it's hands full with BC, of course, but DDC likes their 'D' and hates BC's depth. Union slows, not shuts down, but slows, the top line of Johnny Hockey and Kevin Hayes and moves on to Saturday.

Union 4, BC 3 

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