Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Omaha vs. Providence: It's Been Awhile

One phrase may sum up Thursday's Frozen Four semifinal match up between Nebraska Omaha and Providence College: It's been awhile.

On one side of the ice, "it's been awhile" refers to a Friars squad that hasn't made it to college hockey's grandest stage since 1985.

On the other, the phrase refers to UNO's head coach, Dean Blais, who returns to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2001, while with North Dakota. Blais won two national championships with the Fighting Sioux in 1997 and 2000.

While there is some experience for both programs in some shape or form, the current incarnations of these UNO and PC squads are fresh to the national championship scene. Outside of their first run since 1985, it's the first appearance in the Frozen Four for Providence head coach Nate Leaman.

And while the Mavericks head coach may have the experience, this is UNO's first Frozen Four appearance in their 18-year history, after notching their program's first two tournament wins in the this year's Midwest Regional.

So, what should college hockey fans expect when the Friars and Mavericks get together in TD Garden in Boston on Thursday? A look at the nets tells the biggest story as Omaha's Ryan Massa and Providence's Jon Gillies are two of the best goaltenders that college hockey has to offer.

Here's a look at the two teams as they prep for their Frozen Four faceoff.

You Know UNO?

Players to Watch:

So. F, Jake Gunetzel, 13 goals, 25 assists --38 points
So. F, Austin Ortega, 20 g, 17 a -- 37 pts. 11 game-winning goals leads the NCAA.
Fr. F, Jake Randolph, 5 g, 21 a -- 26 pts

Sr. G, Ryan Massa, 14-7-6, .939 save percentage (best in NCAA), 1.92 goals against average (5th in NCAA)

Nebraska Omaha's Ryan Massa leads the NCAA in save percentage (.939)

Friars Flying High

Players to Watch:

Jr. F, Nick Saracino, 13 g, 22 a --35 pts
Sr. F, Shane Luke, 13 g, 18 a -- 31 pts
Jr. F, Noel Acciari, 14 g, 16 a -- 30 pts

Jr. G, Jon Gillies, 22-13-2, .929 SV PCT (12th in NCAA), 2.01 GAA (13th in NCAA)

PC's Jon Gilles  is in the Top 13 in the NCAA in goals against average and save percentage.

Standout Stats


11 players with at least 14 points.

13-3-1 when scoring first, 15-1-1 when leading after 2 periods


14 players with at least 11 points.

2.05 goals against per game (5th in NCAA), 15.2% power play (40th in NCAA)

We've gotten a look at BU, Nebraska-Omaha and Providence. So, check in tomorrow for DDC's look at North Dakota and his picks for the semifinal match ups from Boston. We're just one day away, folks.

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