The 2014 College Hockey season has finally reached the Frozen Four. The last four teams standing are as follows: #1 Minnesota, #2 Union, #3 Boston College and #5 North Dakota, rankings from latest USA Today. It has been an exciting 2014 men’s tournament with multiple over time games, including a double over time regional final. It’s time for a Frozen Four preview and here are the two semifinal match ups:
Boston College vs. Union - Thursday, April 10th @ 5:00 ET/2:00 PT on ESPN2
BC is making yet another appearance in the frozen four, while the Union Dutchmen are making just their second appearance in the frozen four, but both have come in the last three seasons. This will also be just the second time that these two schools have played, the first came in the first round of last year’s tournament and Union came out on top 5-1. The BC Eagles are lead by two forwards who were #1 and #2 in the nation in scoring this year, Johnny Gaudreau, “Johnny Hockey,” (77 P in 39 GP) and Kevin Hayes, Chicago Blackhawks prospect, (63 P in 39 GP). Gaudreau, Calgary Flames prospect, who has lit it up so far in the tournament and is arguably the most electric player in the college ranks. He is supremely skilled with the puck, but is very small in stature, which may effect his performance at the NHL level. I’ve personally heard from a friend of mine who has seen him play that can be quite the cherry picker, though.
On the other side, Union are led by arguably the most talented defenseman in the college ranks in Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers prospect. Ghost has appeared for the United States in the World Junior Championships, along with Gaudreau. That same friend who has seen Gaudreau has also seen Gostisbehere, or “Ghost” as he is called, and couldn’t say enough about how impressed he was. He was noticeably the best player on the ice with his speed, puck-handling skills and hockey sense. However, Union also boast one of the top scorers in the country in senior forward Daniel Carr. The Alberta native has tallied 48 points in 37 games this season. What may give Union the advantage over BC’s electric offense is the fact that their goaltender, Colin Stevens, is one of the best in the country and has been near perfect for Union during the tournament.
Minnesota vs. North Dakota – Thursday, April 10th @ 8:30 ET/5:30 PT on ESPN2
This is one of the best rivalries in college hockey, if not the best. For years, both schools were members of the WCHA, but with that conference folding, both schools went their separate ways. Minnesota went to the newly formed B1G Conference and North Dakota went to NCHC. These two schools have played each other a total of 290 times in the last 84 years, with the Gophers holding a slight edge in the all-time series. The Gophers are a very balanced team and are led by their goalie Adam Wilcox, Tampa Bay Lightning prospect. They don’t boast any top scorers, however, they have some interesting NHL prospects that include Hudson Fasching, Los Angeles Kings prospect, and Brady Skjei, New York Rangers prospect. Freshman forward Justin Kloos has been hot recently, now leading the team in goals with 15 after scoring three in regionals.
For North Dakota, they’ve played the role of underdogs this tournament upsetting number one seed Wisconsin in their region and then defeating Ferris State in double overtime to advance to the Frozen Four. UND’s leading scorer is a familiar name for those who keep track of the USNTDP. Sophomore and Florida Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi, who has progressed through the USNTDP and appeared for the US in the WJC, leads UND with 39 points in 41 games played. Fellow Sophomore and Boston Bruins prospect Zane Gothberg has been a wall for North Dakota with a SV% at nearly .950%. Gothberg put up a stellar performance in the double overtime against Ferris State stopping over 40 shots.
The Frozen Four will be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and the national championship will take place on Saturday, April 12 @ 7:30 PM ET/4:30 PM PT. If you can watch these games, please do. The Frozen Four is always exciting to watch and always turns out some great games. Plus, the Anaheim Ducks do have one player appearing in this year’s frozen four. Defenseman Keaton Thompson, a 3rd round pick in 2013, is a freshman at North Dakota, but doesn’t see too much playing time as he is only a freshman.
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