Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday Frozen Four Gameday: Back to Business

Frozen Four Semifinals from TD Garden in Boston:
Both games on ESPN 2:
Nebraska Omaha vs. Providence, 4 p.m. CT
North Dakota vs. Boston University, 7:30 p.m. CT


It's a memory that DDC, and all Sioux hockey fans a like, remember very well.

UND had the favored Minnesota Gophers on the edge of overtime in the 2014 Frozen Four semifinals in Philadelphia.

A face off loss in the offensive zone, a quick Minnesota transition and a seeing-eye bleeder to the back of the UND net later, a devastated North Dakota squad saw its quest for an eighth national championship fall by the wayside against it's biggest rival, 2-1 with 0.6 left on the clock, in gut-wrenching fashion.

Fast forward a year.

For UND, with 0.6 now far in the rear view mirror, yet still very much fresh in their minds, it's back to business. This time, North Dakota is here to finish the fight.

What will be the story of tonight's Frozen Four semifinal showdown with a dynamic Boston University team playing in front of what will essentially be a hometown crowd from TD Garden in Boston?

We'll find out in a few short hours.

Here's a look at UND coming into their semifinal tussle with BU.

Green and White Go-Tos

UND's Zane McIntyre, Jordan Schmaltz and Paul LaDue celebrate
following their 4-1 victory over St. Cloud State in the West Region final,
March 28 in Fargo. (Photo credit: Grand Forks Herald)

Players to Watch:

Jr. F, Drake Caggiula, 18 goals, 18 assists -- 32 points
Sr. F, Michael Parks, 12 g, 20 a -- 32 pts (1 point in last 10 games)
Jr. D, Jordan Schmaltz, 4 g, 23 a -- 27 pts
Fr. F, Nick Schmaltz, 5 g, 21 a -- 26 pts

Jr. G, Zane McIntyre, 29-9-3 (.744 win percentage 4th in NCAA), 2.00 goals against average (11th in NCAA), .931 save percentage (7th in NCAA)

Standout Stats

3.29 goals per game (8th in NCAA), 2.17 goals allowed per game (7th in NCAA), 16 players with at least 11 points, 25-0-2 when leading after two periods, 20-3-3 when scoring first.

134 career points from the senior class is 45 more than BU's and leads all Frozen Four teams. 13-8-3 against tournament teams this season.

The Picks

Let's start with the other side of the bracket.

Nebraska Omaha vs. Providence

These are two teams looking to make a permanent name for themselves on the college hockey scene.

An elite goaltending match up headlines the early game from the Frozen Four and this should be a dandy to watch. Ryan Massa vs. Jon Gillies.

With these two stalwarts in the nets, DDC expects a fast-paced, grinding battle. Scoring first will be a huge key. Who will break first?

Tough one to pick, but having seen both of these two teams first hand this season, DDC expects the speed of the Mavericks to win out. Dean Blais is a heck of a coach and this UNO squad has taken some huge strides this season and DDC thinks this continues into the national championship game.

OMAHA WINS, 3-1 with an empty net goal.

North Dakota vs. Boston University

Seriously. Can it get any better than this?

A high-flying offense in Boston U vs. a tenacious, gritty defensive team in North Dakota.

This is what the Frozen Four is all about. Two all-time programs going at it on the grandest stage.

This match up is one of youth vs. experience. UND's senior class has been here before. They've played under the biggest lights in the biggest spots.

As of today, 0.6 is the story of this North Dakota senior class' lasting legacy.

And simply put, this legacy is one they desperately want to change.

From day one this season and even further back as when they departed Philadelphia in crushing fashion, this UND squad has had one goal in mind and that is to hang the eighth green banner from the rafters of Ralph Engelstad Arena.

BU is talented and features the best player in college hockey in Jack Eichel. No doubt, the Terriers want this game just much as North Dakota does. However, DDC believes that the demons of 0.6 in Philadelphia are what separates UND from BU.

Outside of maybe Boston College, the Terriers haven't seen a team play like UND does defensively. 

Zane McIntyre and the North Dakota defense have played at an elite level all year and with the motivation of No. 8 and 0.6 on the mind of the Green and White, DDC sees this continuing.


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