The Frozen Four is finally here!
The semifinals begin on Thursday, April 5 when Ohio State takes on Minnesota Duluth, followed by Michigan playing Notre Dame. The championship game is set for Saturday, April 7.
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In case you missed all the college hockey postseason action before this week, we'll catch you up on how each of the four teams found its way to Minnesota.
The Buckeyes finished the season 26-9-5 overall with a 14-8-2 conference record in the Big Ten. Ohio State, which entered the tournament as the fourth overall seed, was impressive in its Midwest regional games. The Buckeyes defeated Princeton, 4-2, and took care of defending national champions Denver, beating the Pioneers 5-1. Led by coach Steve Rohlik, the Buckeyes are making their first Frozen Four trip since 1998. Interestingly, Rohlik joined the Ohio State program in 2010 after 10 seasons on the coaching staff at Minnesota Duluth.
The Bulldogs will be looking to redeem themselves after falling short in the national championship last year in Chicago. Out of the NCHC, Minnesota Duluth finished 23-16-3 this season. In the West region, Minnesota Duluth beat Minnesota State in an overtime victory and then defeated Air Force, which was coming off an upset over the No. 1 overall seed St. Cloud State. The Bulldogs' last national title was in 2011, when they defeated Michigan at the Xcel Center. Could this year bring some 2011 deja vu?
Michigan will be making its 25th Frozen Four apperance and its first since 2011 when the Wolverines fell to Minnesota Duluth in the championship. Out of the Northeast region, they defeated Northeastern 3-2 and then dominated Boston University, 6-3. "Obviously, we're the underdog in the tournament and we're just happy to be there, and it's bonus hockey for us now, but it's been a great week in Michigan," Michigan head coach Mel Pearson said last week.
Notre Dame is playing in its second consecutive Frozen Four. The Irish fell last year to Denver in the semifinals, but are back this season as the Big Ten conference champions and the second overall seed in this year's tournament. In the East region, Notre Dame beat Michigan Tech 4-3 in overtime in the first round. Next the Irish faced Providence, who they defeated 2-1 with a goal in the last minute of the third period by Dylan Malmquist. Notre Dame has goaltender Cale Morris as a key component to its success this season, as the sophmore is a Mike Richter Award nominee.