Frozen Four features new faces
Also: Michigan takes home 12th crown; Indiana keeps winning
The Men’s Frozen Four will have a considerably new look this year.
Not only will the event take place at a new venue and site -- the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. –- but there will not be any usual suspects competing for the NCAA trophy when the semifinals begin on April 11.
Instead, the who’s who of college hockey will be sitting at home. North Dakota, Michigan, Denver, Minnesota, Boston College? Sorry, maybe next year. This year, there will be a first-time champion.
Three of the four teams in the field are making their first Frozen Four appearances, and the fourth has not advanced to the semifinals since 1952.
Yale, the last team to earn a berth in the field of 16, was the first to punch a Frozen Four ticket, rallying for four third-period goals to defeat North Dakota 4-1 on Saturday. It was a day after the Bulldogs shocked No. 1-seeded Minnesota 3-2 in overtime.
The only other time the Bulldogs have gotten this far into the NCAA postseason was in 1952 when Yale was one of two teams representing the East in the four-team championship. It was not yet dubbed the Frozen Four.
UMass-Lowell was next to advance as the top-seeded Riverhawks shutout New Hampshire 2-0 in the Northeast Regional. Head coach Norm Bazin, who starred for the Riverhawks in 1990-94, has led the program to their first Frozen Four appearance, but UMass-Lowell is no stranger to national titles. The school won three as a Division II program in 1979, 1981 and 1982.
On Sunday, Saint Cloud State whipped up on Miami (Ohio) 4-1 at the Midwest Regional behind the sensational play of rookie forward Joey Benik, who earned Most Valuable Player honors. Benik netted two scores against Miami one night after tallying a pair in a 5-1 defeat of Notre Dame.
“It’s a great moment for our program,” head coach Bob Motzko said. “St. Cloud State has been awful close. It has taken nine times to get [to the Frozen Four]. It’s a very special time for our program right now.”
Quinnipiac, the No. 1 team for a good part of the regular season, capped off the weekend with a rousing 5-1 win against Union as the Bobcats claimed their first Frozen Four berth sparked by a natural hat trick by Matthew Peca. Peca’s hat trick was the fastest in NCAA tournament history as he scored three goals in the span of 3:12. The Bobcats have posted an incredible 14-0-0 record against ranked opponents this season.
• The top-ranked men’s lacrosse team went down for the second consecutive weekend as No. 20 St. John’s upended No. 1 Notre Dame 12-10 on Saturday. Kevin Cernuto tallied four goals and three assists for the Red Storm as they beat their third ranked opponent of the season. Cernuto is just the seventh player to score seven points or more against the Irish since 1998. It was the first time in program history St. John’s has beaten a No. 1 team.
• The unbeaten second-ranked Florida women’s lacrosse team was handed its first loss of the season by No. 10 Penn State 16-11 on Saturday. The Nittany Lions outscored the Gatos by a 10-2 margin in the second half to end Florida’s 24-game regular season winning streak. Penn State improved to 2-0 in American Lacrosse Conference play for the first time since 2005.
|WINTER CHAMPIONSHIP COVERAGE|
|Denotes recently completed championships|
|• DI Men's Swimming & Diving|
|• DII Women's Basketball|
|• DI Wrestling|
|• DI Women's Hockey|
|• DI Women's Swimming & Diving|
• The No. 24 Indiana baseball squad improved its school-record winning streak to 15 games after sweeping Big Ten foe Iowa during the weekend. The Hoosiers are 6-0 in league play and have won 20 of their last 21 games. IU is batting .323 and scoring 7.8 runs per game on the season. Kyle Schwarber tops the team offensively with a .431 batting average, 30 RBI and a league-leading homers.
• The Michigan men’s swimming and diving team captured the program’s 12th NCAA team title, and first since 1995, on Saturday. Junior Connor Jaeger won the 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle races, and the team of Miguel Ortiz, Sean Fletcher, Bruno Ortiz and Zachary Turk took first place in the 200 medley relay for the first time in program history.
• After falling to Shaw in last year’s Division II Women’s Basketball Championship, Ashland wanted to finish the mission this season and they did. The Eagles downed Dowling 71-56 to claim the program’s first national title. Two-time national player of the year Kari Daugherty posted her 12th double-double in the NCAA postseason with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Ashland’s 71 points in the game were the most that Dowling -- the national scoring defense leader (48.7 ppg) -- had given up all season.
• Metro State and Drury survived and advanced in the Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament during the weekend, and will meet in the NCAA title game on April 7 in Atlanta as a part of the Men’s Final Four festivities. The Roadrunners topped West Liberty 83-76 on Saturday to earn their fourth trip to a national championship game. Metro State won the title in 2000 and 2002. Drury punched its first ticket to an NCAA title game with a 107-97 defeat of defending national champion Western Washington on Saturday. The Panthers improved their school-record winning streak to 22 games after knocking off WWU.
• North Carolina junior R.G. Keenan won the overtime face-off and netted the game-winning goal six second later as he lifted the No. 7 Tar Heels to an 11-10 victory against No. 10 Johns Hopkins on Saturday. It was Keenan’s only goal of the contest and led UNC to its third win against a nationally ranked opponent in the last week.
• The Angelo State softball team snapped No. 1 West Texas A&M’s eight-game winning streak with a double-header sweep of the Buffs on Friday. In the second contest, senior Kacie Easley belted a walk-off two-run homer to spark the Rambelles to an 8-6 victory and a series win against the top-ranked team in Division II softball. It was Easley’s sixth homer of the season and 38th of her career. The series win also moved Angelo into a tie for second place with the Buffs in the Lone Star Conference standings.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|15||The No. 1 Trinity (Conn.) women’s lacrosse team rolled to a 13-4 victory against No. 15 Tufts on Saturday, extending the Bantams winning streak to 15 games dating back to last year’s national championship season. Trinity is 7-0 on the year.|
|109||Indiana senior men’s tennis player Josh MacTaggart defeated Michigan State's Aaron Pfister at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-3 to earn his 109th career singles victory and the all-time school record for singles victories.|
|500||The No. 2 Southern California men's tennis team cruised to a 6-1 victory against No. 49 Stanford in the Trojans’ Pac-12 opener on Friday, giving head coach Peter Smith his 500th career victory. Smith has compiled a 500-199 career record as a head coach, also earning ITA National Coach of the Year honors twice and leading the Trojans to four NCAA team titles.|
|1,300||Michigan head softball coach Carol Hutchins collected her 1,300th career victory on Friday as the Wolverines downed Penn State 7-4. She is only the third coach in NCAA softball history to accomplish the feat. Michigan swept a doubleheader against the Nittany Lions on Saturday as Hutchins improved her career mark to 1,302-437-4 in 30 years at the helm of the program.|
|2,323||Notre Dame senior guard Skylar Diggins became the school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,323 points after contributing 27 points in the Irish’s Sweet Sixteen win against Kansas on Sunday. The previous mark of 2,322 was set by Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, who played for Notre Dame in 1993-97 and is now an associate coach for the Irish.|
|3,283||Baylor’s Brittney Griner concluded her illustrious career on Sunday as the Lady Bears fell to Louisville 82-81 in NCAA tournament action. While Griner netted a lower-than-average 14 points against the Cardinals, she finished her collegiate career with 3,283 points – the second-most in Division I women’s basketball history.|
• Arizona sophomore swimmer Kevin Cordes shattered both the 100 yard and 200 yard breaststroke NCAA and American short-course records at the Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships during the weekend. Cordes swam a 50.74 to win the 100 yard breaststroke on Friday, and followed it up with a 1:48.68 to win the 200 on Saturday.
“He is the fastest 200 breaststroker in the history of the sport by three seconds even during the years of the super suits,” Arizona head coach Eric Hansen said. “That’s like a Bob Beamon [held the long jump world record for 22 years] performance from the Mexico Olympics. He took the bar and put it in places that people don’t understand.”
• Texas senior softball player Taylor Hoagland walked eight consecutive times to start the Longhorns’ series against Kansas, tying for the second-most in NCAA history. Hoagland has reached base in all 36 games this season, and in 44 consecutive contests dating back to last season. She batted .477 with 21 runs scored, 16 RBI, seven home runs and 31 walks during the month of March. After sweeping the Jayhawks, UT is 32-4 on the season -- the third best mark through 36 games in program history.
• Third baseman Tyler Aldridge set a Delta State record as he extended his hitting streak to 28 games in the Statesmen’s 10-1 victory against West Alabama on Friday. His streak, which began the first game of the season against Montevallo, was halted in the second game of the doubleheader against the Tigers as he went 0-for-3 in Delta State’s 2-0 victory. Aldridge leads the No. 1 Statesmen with a .426 batting average and .496 on-base percentage this season.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy