Historic Frozen Four ready to go
No team from Hockey East in Frozen Four for the first time
It will be an all-western affair at the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four.
A day after Minnesota Duluth and Michigan punched their tickets to the Frozen Four, Notre Dame and North Dakota earned the right to join them on Sunday, which means that the CCHA and the WCHA – the two westernmost conferences in Division I college hockey – will be the only ones represented in two weeks at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
The WCHA was guaranteed two teams in the Frozen Four as Sunday’s games began, as either North Dakota or Denver would join Minnesota Duluth, and the Fighting Sioux pushed through to win the Midwest Regional. Meanwhile, Notre Dame eliminated New Hampshire at the Northeast Regional, marking the first time since 2005 that a Hockey East team will not play for the NCAA Championship.
With Sunday’s results, this year’s Frozen Four will be the first since 2005 to include teams from fewer than three conferences. In that year, all four teams came from the WCHA.
Either conference could have a monopoly on the title game on April 10: Minnesota Duluth will play Notre Dame in one semifinal, while North Dakota and Michigan will meet in the other.
North Dakota 6, Denver 1 – A week after the Fighting Sioux and the Pioneers went to double overtime to decide the WCHA Championship, the rematch in the finals of the Midwest Regional wasn’t even close. A day after scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime, Denver freshman Jason Zucker scored with one second remaining in the first period to make it 1-1 after 20 minutes, but North Dakota got goals in the second from Evan Trupp and Brett Hextalll, then put the Pioneers away with three goals in the final frame.
Notre Dame 2, New Hampshire 1 – The Fighting Irish got goals from Stephen Johns and Billy Maday to beat the Wildcats, who hosted the Northeast Regional at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. New Hampshire climbed within a goal in the third period on Mike Sislo’s 15th goal of the year, but a late penalty to the Wildcats’ Mike Beck prevented UNH from making a strong final charge with the goalie pulled.
Sunday's Three Stars
1. Billy Maday, junior, F, Notre Dame – A day after scoring the tying goal in the third period, sending Notre Dame on to a 4-3 overtime win over Merrimack in the Northeast Regional, Maday scored the game-winning goal late in the second period, giving the Fighting Irish a 2-1 win over New Hampshire and a spot in the Frozen Four. It was the 10th goal of the season for Maday, who is fourth on the Irish in total points with 27.
2. Mike Johnson, senior, G, Notre Dame – Johnson made 37 saves in a 2-1 win over New Hampshire. Thirteen of those saves came in the first period, when the Wildcats outshot the Fighting Irish, 13-7, but Notre Dame was able to take the lead on Stephen Johns’ second goal of the year.
3. Chay Genoway, senior, D, North Dakota – Genoway assisted on three of the Fighting Sioux’s six goals in a 6-1 win against WCHA rival Denver. With five assists in two games at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisc., Genoway is tied for the top points per game average in the tournament (2.5) with Colorado College’s Jaden and Rylan Schwartz.
Facts and Figures
• This year’s Frozen Four will mark the first time since 2005 and only the second time since 2000 that North Dakota has reached the championship weekend and not played Boston College. The Fighting Sioux and Eagles played for the NCAA Championship in 2000 and 2001, then met in the semifinals in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
• While his team’s explosive offense grabbed the headlines at the Midwest Regional, North Dakota sophomore goaltender Aaron Dell turned in the best two-game statistics of any goaltender in the tournament. Dell will head into the Frozen Four with a .979 save percentage and a .50 goals-against average.
• The NCAA tournament is often thought to be a veteran team’s game, but several freshmen made major impacts in this weekend’s regionals, with four among the top 18 scorers. Colorado College freshman Jaden Schwartz finished tied for first in points per game at 2.50, with Denver’s Jason Zucker tied for fourth and Minnesota Dulith’s Justin Faulk and Notre Dame’s Anders Lee tied for 10th.
• North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol will be coaching in his fifth Frozen Four in seven years behind the bench at his alma mater. Hakstol guided the Fighting Sioux to the Frozen Four in each of his first four seasons after taking over from Dean Blais, guiding North Dakota to the championship game in his first season.