Two weeks from Saturday night, a brand new NCAA Champion will be crowned at the 2011 Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minnesota.
And that team will not be from Boston.
Colorado College got two goals and two assists from freshman sensation Jaden Schwartz, a goal each from six other players to defeat Boston College, 8-4, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, eliminating the defending NCAA Champions from the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. With Boston University not participating in this year’s tournament, the NCAA Championship will leave Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue for the first time since 2007, and it will be the first time since 2005 that a Boston team has not participated in the NCAA Championship game.
The Eagles struck quickly, scoring 19 seconds into the game on a goal by Jimmy Hayes, but the Tigers stormed back with three goals in the next eight minutes, with Jaden and Rylan Schwartz figuring in all three goals with a goal and two assists apiece. The Tigers got a fourth goal with 1:18 left in the first from David Civitarese, then added three more in the second period after BC’s Paul Carey cut the lead back to two. The Eagles cut the lead back to three goals with 6:21 left on goals by Cam Atkinson and Barry Almeida, but the Tigers held strong, and Dakota Eveland scored with nine seconds left in the game to ice it for CC.
The Tigers will face Michigan for a berth in the Frozen Four on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET at Scottrade Center.
Top overall seed Yale defeated Air Force in overtime, 2-1, in the second semifinal game of the East Regional at Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. Junior forward Chad Ziegler scored the winning tally at 3:16 of the extra session, getting his own rebound and putting the puck past Air Force freshman goaltender Jason Torf. “It’s an amazing feeling to score that goal,” Ziegler said. “It felt great, especially for the seniors we have on our team. It’s something special. We’re one more game away from moving on to the Frozen Four, and we’re focused on that now.”
Minnesota Duluth defeated Union, 2-0, in the first semifinal game at the East Regional, getting goals from Kyle Schmidt and Justin Fontaine to defeat the ECAC regular-season champion Dutchmen. While much had been made going into the regional of Union, Yale and Air Force having three of the top four power-play units in the country, it was Duluth that was most dangerous with the man advantage, going 2-for-8 on its opportunities while holding Union scoreless in nine power-play chances. “It’s been good for the past year,” Fontaine said, “and it’s something we thrive off of. We always want to win the special teams battle, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Michigan defeated Colorado College in overtime, 3-2 in the opening game of the West Regional, getting the game-winning goal from sophomore center Kevin Lynch at 2:35 of the extra session. The goal, Lynch’s second of the game, was not originally called on the ice, but the officials determined that the puck crossed the line after an extensive video review. “It was a tough way to lose a game and end your season, on a goal that maybe was not conclusive,” Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais said.
Seen and Heard
• It was a little out of the ordinary, but Union head coach Nate Leaman took time during his team’s postgame press conference to personally address his team’s captain, Brock Matheson. After reflecting on a career at Union that saw the Dutchmen go from last in ECAC Hockey to a regular-season champion and an NCAA tournament team, Matheson said, “This program isn’t even close to it’s potential yet; I think it’s going to steadily improve, and I think it’s too bad that [classmate Adam Presizniuk] and I won’t be a part of it, but definitely, we were very privileged to have been a part of it.” Leaman put the questions from the media on hold to reply, saying, “You’re always going to be a part of this program. This class is the first class to graduate with four winning records. They came into a tough situation as freshmen, and looked to ‘carry the mail.’ They’ve done a tremendous job of leadership. They’ll always be a part of our culture and our program.”
• Air Force head coach Frank Serratore was very animated when discussing the Atlantic Hockey champion’s performance in the NCAA tournament (the conference champion is 3-3 in its last six first round games, and hasn’t lost by more than a goal since 2004, when North Dakota beat Holy Cross, 3-0). “We’ve won big,” Serratore said. “Atlantic Hockey, our champion…in football terms, we’re not the SEC. We’re not the Pac-10. We’re not the Big 12. We don’t have the depth that Hockey East has, and we don’t have the depth that the WCHA has, but our best team is a good team, and they’ve proven that every year. We’re the Boise State, we’re the TCU of the NCAA hockey tournament, and to be honest with you, I don’t think there’s enough of those teams in the field. I think the Cinderellas make it interesting. Don’t think that around the country, everybody that wasn’t a Yale fan wasn’t on that TV rooting for Air Force. Holy Cross beat Minnesota, we beat Michigan here a couple of years ago, RIT last year beat New Hampshire and Denver. We lost to Minnesota by a goal, we lost in overtime to Miami. We lost in double overtime to Vermont, and we lost in overtime in Yale. We don’t have the depth, but our best team is a good team. Our teams have to get here the old-fashioned way. They have to earn their way here. There’s only five teams that get in with the automatic qualifier. The rest of them get in because they’ve had terrific regular seasons. The Atlantic champion doesn’t limp in here. They’ve had to win their tournament. I couldn’t be more proud of what the Atlantic Hockey champion has done. Keep in mind, we don’t get a four-seed. We don’t get a third seed. We don’t get a second seed. We’re playing No. 1 or No. 2 in the country, and when you look at our record, down goes Minnesota. Down goes Michigan. Down goes Denver. Down goes New Hampshire. We’ve had some heartbreaking losses, but we’re there.”
• Minnesota Duluth senior forward Kyle Schmidt scored the game-winning goal for his Bulldogs against Union, but as of late, he hasn’t needed to do anything special to stand out on his team. While the Bulldogs dyed their hair blond before the WCHA playoffs, Schmidt didn’t join in, and with good reason. “I’m getting married this summer,” Schmidt explained, “and we have pictures coming up soon, so I didn’t want to look too ridiculous for that. It was my call, but I think my fiancée appreciated it.” After Schmidt scored the winning goal, it’s a fair bet that his teammates will forgive him.
Facts and Figures
• All four games on the first day of the Championship featured either overtime or a lower seed winning.
• With 32 saves, Minnesota Duluth junior Kenny Reiter recorded his third shutout of the season and the sixth of his career.
• Union was shutout for the second time this season, and the first time since a 5-0 loss to Yale on December 5.
• When Sean Bertsch scored for Air Force with 1:26 remaining in the second period, Yale goaltender Ryan Rondeau allowed his first goal since March 12 against St. Lawrence. Bertsch’s goal snapped a shutout streak of 240 minutes, 53 seconds.
• With four points apiece, Colorado College’s Jaden Schwartz (2g, 2a) and Rylan Schwartz (1g, 3a) are the top scorers in the tournament.
• BC senior goaltender John Muse stopped 22 of the 29 shots he faced in his final game at BC. Muse will graduate with two NCAA Championships and an all-time tournament record of 8-1 with a .910 save percentage and a goals-against average of 2.18.