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2012 West Regional preview: Minnesota-North Dakota final no foregone conclusion

It’s a pretty simple formula: Put Minnesota and North Dakota in the same regional and wait for the fireworks.

But if you think that’s a predestined situation in the 2012 West Regional, Boston University, Western Michigan and a dose of history may have you think again.

The Gophers and the Fighting Sioux have been put on opposite sides of the same regional four times since the NCAA tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2003. Of the three in the past, only one has ended in a Minnesota-North Dakota regional final. That took place in 2007, when the Sioux advanced in overtime.

2003 in Minneapolis? Ferris State took care of North Dakota in the first round. 2006 in Grand Forks? Holy Cross sent Minnesota home.

Top seed North Dakota plays Western Michigan in the first round this season, while regional host Minnesota reignites an old rivalry with Boston University.

Here are the previews for the West Regional. Check to the right for game times and locations.

North Dakota Fighting Sioux

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Dave Hakstol, eighth season

Record: 25-12-3 (16-7-5 WCHA, fourth)

How they got in: Automatic qualifier, WCHA playoff champion

Regional seed: First

Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2011

Best NCAA finish: Champions, 1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000

Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: This is UND’s time of the season. The Sioux are 10-2 in regional play since 2005 and are getting great goaltending from Aaron Dell and consistent scoring from the top line of Danny Kristo, Corban Knight and Brock Nelson.

Why they won’t get to the Frozen Four: Western Michigan goaltender Frank Slubowski is smokin’ hot going into Saturday with a .937 save percentage in his last six games.

2012031719 49 27203 2012 West Regional preview: Minnesota North Dakota final no foregone conclusion

North Dakota is 10-2 in regional play since 2005 (photo: Jim Rosvold).

The last four periods North Dakota has played have been completely dominated by the Sioux, making it one of the hottest teams in the country right now.

UND has won seven straight games going back to Feb. 25 and is 9-1-1 in the past 11 games.

“Our coaches emphasize playing our best hockey at this time of the year,” said UND captain Mario Lamoureux. “It gets embedded in our mind.”

The Sioux defeated St. Cloud State 4-1 in last Thursday’s WCHA Final Five quarterfinals but fell behind Minnesota 3-0 after 30 minutes the following night. UND coach Dave Hakstol called a timeout, the Sioux scored once before the end of the second period and poured it on for five goals in the third.

UND blanked Denver 4-0 for the title and has scored 10 straight goals, outshooting its opponents 46-24 without allowing a goal in the last four periods.

“We fight real hard to get here and once you get here you go day by day to play the next night and the goal is to eventually play for the title,” Hakstol said after last Friday’s win. “We have that opportunity now and we’re going to make the most of it.”

North Dakota played Western Michigan, its first-round opponent, four times over back-to-back seasons in the late 1990s, and the Sioux won all four. Other than that, there isn’t much history between the programs. Both teams played in last season’s Midwest Regional, and the Broncos were minutes away from playing UND in the regional final but let a late lead slip away in the first round against Denver.

UND and WMU will be regular opponents as members of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference starting in 2013.

The Sioux are led by their top line — Brock Nelson (27-17–44), Danny Kristo (18-25–43) and Corban Knight (15-24–39). Nelson scored four goals in the WCHA Final Five, adding to the Sioux domination, displayed by an all-tournament team that included all UND players but one (Denver’s Jason Zucker).

Three of the four goals UND goaltender Aaron Dell allowed in three games at the Final Five were on the power play. He’s riding a .948 save percentage in his last three games going into the regional.

UND also has a rock-solid defensive corps that includes top pair Derek Forbort and Ben Blood. Andrew MacWilliam brings a steady, physical presence on the second pair.

– Tyler Buckentine

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Don Lucia, 25th season, 13th at Minnesota

Record: 26-13-1 (20-8 WCHA, first)

How they got in: At-large bid

Regional seed: Second

Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2008

Best NCAA finish: Champions, 1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003

Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: 1. They bring a sustainable level of offensive and defensive intensity and not fold in the face of adversity. 2. Kent Patterson gives them a chance. 3. Lucia uses his timeouts efficiently … OK, uses them. 4. No Friday game (the Gophers are 11-9 on Fridays, 15-4-1 on Saturday and Sunday).

Why they wont get to the Frozen Four: While the Xcel Energy Center is a familiar environment for the Gophers, the NCAA tournament is not, and their lack of tournament experience is exposed.

2012031620 20 44160 2012 West Regional preview: Minnesota North Dakota final no foregone conclusion

Kent Patterson has been the goalie of record for every Minnesota game this season (photo: Jim Rosvold).

It has been a tale of three seasons for Minnesota, which got off to a red hot 9-1 start before a fairly mediocre 10-10-1 midseason stretch left the Gophers vulnerable to relinquishing their season-long spot atop the WCHA standings.

But Minnesota has gone 7-2 since being swept in Denver in mid-February and, along the way, captured the MacNaughton Cup, given to the WCHA’s regular season champion, for the first time since 2007.

Minnesota was among the nation’s leaders in scoring offense and defense all year but its scoring margin during the 21-game midseason plateau was just plus-0.66 per game (3.14 to 2.48). In the surrounding 19 games, however, the separation is a whopping plus-2.11 (4.00 to 1.89).

Last week’s 6-3 Final Five semifinal loss to North Dakota was a microcosm of Minnesota’s season in that it demonstrated, although exaggeratedly, the varying degrees of performance the Gophers are capable of.

The 60-minute span was the best of times and the worst of times for Minnesota this season, which is not to take anything away from North Dakota, whose five-goal third-period explosion equaled 28 percent of the final-period goals (18) the Gophers had allowed to that point all year.

Minnesota coach Don Lucia has repeatedly expressed his excitement for his team’s return the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008, particularly alluding to his seniors who have waited a long time for their one and only chance.

Not surprisingly, however, Lucia avoided discussion this week of a potential North Dakota rematch on Sunday, saying only that the Gophers are looking forward to playing Boston University.

“We know we have a great opponent in the first round,” Lucia said of BU. “When you start looking ahead, you are going to end up biting yourself in the rear end.

“[The Terriers] are like they always are; they are one of the elite teams. They have [two] seniors on their team that won a national title [in 2009], so they know what it takes at this time of the season.”

The Gophers have shown time and again this season that when they are at their defensive best, especially with one of the nation’s best goaltenders (Kent Patterson, 26-13-1, 2.22 goals against average, .910 save percentage), frustration begets impatience in their opponents. The resulting odd-man rushes give Minnesota an opportunity to beat you with its speed and ingenuity.

Led by centers Erik Haula (19-27–46) and Nick Bjugstad (24-16–40), the Gophers are a solid two lines deep offensively with captain Taylor Matson’s third line known for its effort and timely scoring.

On the back end, defenseman Nate Schmidt’s 38 points (3-35–38) ties him with Denver’s Joey LaLeggia for second, to Wisconsin’s Justin Schultz (44), in overall scoring among WCHA defensemen.

“This is probably the most important game I’ve played in my career,” said Schmidt. “It’s going to be exciting but at the same time we’re going to have to play with a little bit more poise and a little bit more determination this weekend in order to beat a team like BU.”

– Brian Halverson

Boston University Terriers

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Jack Parker, 39th season

Record: 23-14-1 (17-9-1 Hockey East, tie-second)

How they got in: At-large bid

Regional seed: Third

Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2009

Best NCAA finish: Champions, 1971, 1972, 1978, 1995, 2009

Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: Two months ago, they were the best team in college hockey.

Why they won’t get to the Frozen Four: They’ve been wildly inconsistent since then.

120316 19414635 2012 West Regional preview: Minnesota North Dakota final no foregone conclusion

Wade Megan, Sean Escobedo, Alex Chiasson and Chris Connolly celebrate Chiasson's goal in the Hockey East semifinals (photo: Melissa Wade).

Two months ago, the Terriers looked like the team to beat. They ranked first in the PairWise Rankings and within Hockey East boasted easily the best offense and the best penalty kill. Their team defense and power play ranked second.

Since then, however, BU has stumbled, posting an 8-8 record, hardly the stuff of champions. The once-stellar penalty kill has given up a goal in five of the last six games, including three (plus an empty-netter) against Maine in the Hockey East semifinals. The power play has scored only three times in the last 28 opportunities (10.7 percent) and scored only once in the last four contests.

If the Terriers can get back their mojo, however, they’ll be a threat.

“If we don’t, the season’s over,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “We’ve had some moments in our last eight games where we’ve looked really sharp and we’ve played really well. We’ve had other moments where we’ve looked like we’re disinterested or not very thorough.”

While his teammates have displayed maddening inconsistency, goaltender Kieran Millan has been a rock all season long, especially rising to the occasion with 150 saves in the three-game quarterfinal series with New Hampshire and 68 in the deciding game.

He may need to provide comparable heroics since the tournament starts with WCHA regular season champion Minnesota, playing before its home crowd. It’ll be a matchup of two of the nation’s top offenses.

“They’re a terrific skating team,” Parker said. “They’ve got great balance in all their lines, especially their top three lines. You can’t pick which is the better line of those three. Their second-line center is their leading scorer. They’ve got guys with 30-odd points on their third line.

“They’ve got real good offensive defensemen that jump in the play and create for them and run the point on the power play point. They’re a high-scoring team in a tough league, so they’ve had plenty of experience of competing against solid defensive-minded teams and still been able to put the puck in the net.

“They present a lot of problems. Then you add that they’re playing in front of their hometown crowd in a building they’re very familiar with. It will make it exciting, it will give them an advantage, but sometimes that puts pressure on the home team as well.”

Although BU fans may be few and far between so far from home, Parker said he sees support from another faction.

“We’ll have a few people in green and white that will be cheering for us,” he said, his smile audible over the phone lines. “Because North Dakota’s going to bring some fans.”

– Dave Hendrickson

Western Michigan Broncos

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Andy Murray, first season

Record: 21-13-6 (14-10-4-4 CCHA, tie-second)

How they got in: Automatic qualifier, CCHA playoff champion

Regional seed: Fourth

Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2011

Best NCAA finish: First round, 1986, 1994, 1996, 2011

Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: WMU’s top line of Shane Berschbach, Chase Balisy and Dane Walters is as good as any line in the country right now, the defense is tight and freshman goaltender Frank Slubowski is an unknown quantity.

Why they won’t get to the Frozen Four: Throughout most of the season, the Broncos had difficulty putting together total games in back-to-back contests.

RachelLewis CCHAChampionshipGame Michigan WMU 03172012 41 2012 West Regional preview: Minnesota North Dakota final no foregone conclusion

Andy Murray claimed the Mason Cup in his first season as Western Michigan coach (photo: Rachel Lewis).

It would be difficult to exaggerate exactly how far this Western Michigan team has come. Crowned CCHA playoff champions last week for the first time since 1986, the Broncos finished the 2009-10 season in the basement before a new head coach, Jeff Blashill, took them to the CCHA title game at the end of 2010-11.

Under their second new head coach in two years — former Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray — the Broncos have captured the Mason Cup and are making their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

In Detroit last weekend, the Broncos made it look easy. First they made a hot Miami team, the defending CCHA playoff champions, look flatfooted in 6-2 semifinal. Then the Broncos beat Michigan 3-2, a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.

“It’s tough to talk after something like that,” said Murray. “Your emotions. I’m just so happy for our players. This is all about them. It’s all about their commitment. All year they’ve worked extremely hard. I’ve had a lot of hard-working teams as a hockey coach — and I’m an old coach, so there’s been a lot of teams — but I’ve got a real hard-working core here.”

“I’m speechless,” said senior forward and captain Ian Slater, who’s been an integral part of the transformation in Kalamazoo. “I don’t think I’ve really won anything in my life — even from a carnival. It’s been an unbelievable ride.”

Slater is typical of the WMU team: hard working, low key and disciplined. The Broncos’ offense may not be flashy, but the top line of sophomores Chase Balisy (13-24–47) and Shane Berschbach (10-22–32) and junior Dane Walters (16-13–29) may be one of the best defensive trios in the nation, and the Broncos’ team defense is 10th-best in the country, allowing 2.23 goals per game on average.

During four games of the CCHA playoffs, though, Western Michigan has outscored opponents 18-8 and in their last eight contests, the Broncos have allowed just 1.5 goals per game. In the CCHA playoffs, the WMU power play hit 36.8 percent of the time with junior defenseman Matt Tennyson (11-13–24) and Walters each scoring two. The WMU penalty kill went 15-for-16 in the CCHA playoffs.

Since Jan. 13, freshman goaltender Frank Slubowski (2.03 goals against average, .910 save percentage) has been the starter, and Murray said that Slubowski is a big reason for the team’s success this year. “If you’ve got a good goalie, you’ve got a good chance to be a good coach,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

– Paula C. Weston


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  • Philipvanschepen

    Gopher faithful, you need to show up early on Saturday and cheer for the Broncos. Return the favor from Grand Forks in 2008. If the Siouxage win, how many Holy cross jerseys will appear in the stands for the Gopher-BU game!

    • MPLS Sioux

      Haha pathetic, still hurting from last Friday night?  I think you’re talking about Grand Forks in 2006 by the way when the Gophers lost to Holy Cross in OT.  Let it go man…

      • CrumblyWillumz

        What’s TRULY pathetic is Hakstol’s NCAA tourney track record. Can’t let that one go until proven otherwise.

        • MPLS Sioux

          Yeah going to the Frozen Four and putting your team in position to win it all every single year truly shows how terrible of a coach he is. 

          I mean ESPECIALLY this year.  I mean come on, skating with a short bench for the back end of the season and winning all these games… who does that? Fire Hakstol!

          • SiouxFansAreTheWorst

            “In a position to win it”

            Funny how when team that isn’t North Dakota loses a tournament game it means they suck, they should never have been in the tournament, you don’t get a banner for coming close, etc.  Go read the dreck your fans are dropping in the other regional blogs.  

          • CrumblyWillumz

            They’ve always got an excuse lined up, win or lose. And that’s why we love them. What else is there to do in GF, anyways?

          • MPLS Sioux

            @CrumblyWillumz: That’s such an old, pathetic, already-heard-a-thousand times putdown.  I don’t live in GF but not sure how that pertains to this point or any point…? enlighten m@Crumbl:disqus e. 

            @SiouxFansAreTheWorst: I don’t care that you feel that way and no other Sioux fan does either.  I’m sorry we have the best fans in the country as far as travelling and supporting our team. That make you feel better?  And what’s wrong with putting yourself in the position to win it? Now it’s up to the players to execute, not sure how you blame the coach 100% for that.

          • CrumblyWillumz

            You guys were saying Hak’s job was on the line this year, not me. Listen to yourselves, lol.

          • MPLS Sioux

            Who is you guys?  Did you talk to the “Head Fan” that represents all Sioux fans in the world?  Quit being so vague in order to make a BS point based on hearsay.

            ‘You guys’ doesn’t cut it.

        • UofMGoldenChokers

           But I’m guessing you will stand by Woog, wont ya? How many championships did he have? Oh yeah……0. But I’m sure you would say he was a great coach. Get a life moron.

          • CrumblyWillumz

            Noooo!!! Not NAME CALLING!!! My only weakness!! I’m melllltingg!!! Just saying, your guy Hak hasn’t won it all. And there WAS talk of his job being on the line if this year was a bust – from YOUR SIDE. Get a grip dude. It’s a game. Try to have fun with it.

          • UofMGoldenChokers

             Dont act like you are tough $hit. Your comment couldnt have been more ridiculous.

          • Kurtisproulx_24

            Ditto

    • RANDDEBSARGE

      I”M sure 1 will seem like 10000

  • WMUBroncoAlumnus02

    The WMU-UND game will be as competitive of a #1 vs #4 seed match-up as you can have.  I can’t complain too much with the Broncos being a #4 seed because it is based on the pairwise and WMU, as mentioned, was not consistent throughout most of the season.  Not only did they dominate in the CCHA tournament, but they also took 5 out of 6 points from then #1 Ferris State in the final series of the regular season so they are definitely playing their best hockey of the season at the right time.  They also have outstanding leadership and Andy Murray will have them well-prepared for Saturday.  UND is just as hot right and a lot of what I just mentioned can be applied to them as well so while I won’t guarantee a WMU victory (although I think it can happen) I do feel that it is safe to predict that this will be a great game and possibly the best opening round match-up in the tournament this year.

  • Philipvanschepen

    Having spent time in both Grand Forks and Kalamazoo I feel qualified to comment on both cities. Niether is a place that people are clamoring to visit they both have selling points.  Kalamazoo is known for the first mental hospital (innovative), Checker Cab company (classic), Gibson Guitars (Stratocaster is God’s axe) and Bell’s Beer(nectar). Grand Forks is known for an airforce base (keeping us safe), annual floods(thrown a sandbag lately), and the 5-5-pole rule (5 miles out of town, stand on a 5 gallon pail, you can see  the North Pole). Go Broncos!

    • NDinMN

      I tried the 5 gallon pail and found it to be inadequate.  Although I found an 8 foot ladder to be satisfactory.  Also you forgot the Red Pepper in Grand Forks.   Should be some good games this weekend.  Lets Go Sioux!

      • CrumblyWillumz

        Did you have to drive to Fargo to buy the ladder?

        • SIOUXFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

           hahahahhahahahahahaha…………….you must live under a rock.

    • Mr Hockey

      Stratocaster is a Fender Guitar but continue on anyway…

    • Scpa0305

      Wow are you a loser!

    • Joe C

      That would not be the North Pole one would see. It might be Winnipeg, where some people find hockey players.

      • SIOUXFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

         yeah like John Teows, Jason Gregoire and many others

    • Buster Bronco

      Not to speak poorly of Kalamazoo, but:

      * The Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital is a fraction of the size it used to be (both in number of buildings as well as population and staff) and now only houses people who have been judged in a court of law to be criminally insane (not guilty by reason of insanity).  Further, KPH doesn’t even own its land anymore.  All the former KPH land is now owned by Western Michigan University and the small portion of land and one building KPH still uses is rented by the state from WMU for $1 a year.  The real zoo in Kalamazoo are all the former mental patients that now walk the streets downtown (though they are on their medication and don’t cause trouble most of the time, except that time in the 1990s when a mental patient murdered someone in the train station bathroom and another time a mental patient clubbed an elderly couple with a metal pipe when they were walking to the Rave movie theater).

      * Checker Motors stopped manufacturing taxi cabs in 1982.  The business continued operating as a supplier for General Motors until like 2010 when the remaining business went bankrupt.  The remaining useful equipment was moved to Canada.  The remaining buildings have been mostly demolished, which was helped by a recent fire.  The latest news was that land was going to be used by a composting company from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

      * Gibson Guitars moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1984, but former Gibson employees started a new company, Heritage Guitars, in the former Gibson factory.  Heritage Guitars is still in operation.

      * Bell’s Beer is very much alive and growing (their beer is manufactured at a plant in Comstock Township).  The annual release of Bell’s Oberon is next week, I think.

      * Kalamazoo has also been known for having the first pedestrian mall in the world (“Mall City”), celery growing (“Celery City”), windmill manufacturing, Shakespeare fishing tackle, the post-1977 home of Elvis Presley, and at one time processed 90% of the mint in the world.

      A great site to get the basics of Kalamazoo history is:

      www DOT kpl DOT gov SLASH local-history SLASH all-about-kalamazoo SLASH

      If I provided the URL in click-able form, this post would require moderator approval and never get posted.

      • Mr Hockey

        I thought the Southdale Mall in Edina, Minnesota was the 1st pedestrian mall but hey I won’t argue….lol

        • UofMGoldenChokers

           Definitely was

        • WCHA Fan

          Southdale Mall in Edina, MN was the world’s first enclosed (indoor) shopping mall.  I believe a pedestrian mall is different…   Similar to the Arbor Lakes situation in Maple Grove.  Southdale Mall opened in 1956.  Go Hornet Hockey!! 

      • Jason

        TL;DR

    • Suture

      This is a college hockey website, not National Geographic.  Get on subject man.  People who comment on “places” are often fairly significant losers. You blew your cover buddy.

  • Farley

    I can’t agree more BroncoAlum. I can’t imagine any of the teams in the West regional are feeling over confident. All four are capable of advancing to Tampa. I have to wonder which Goofer team will show up. As a die hard Sioux fan, I’m not overlooking the Broncos as they are at or near the top of their game. I’m guessing there will be three great games this weekend.

  • Sioux_19

    @WMUbroncoAlumnus02…..WMU does not have a chance in this game. WCHA is wayyyy better then the CCHA. Pretty boy hockey. No match for a hard hitting, physical north dakota team

    • WMUBroncoAlumnus02

      I can only hope that your team is as overconfident as you are.

      • Scpa0305

        I agree….but WMU record against the WCHA is terrible this year.

        • Gopher Stuck in Badgerland

          That’s because the WCHA is a superior hockey conference

        • WMUBroncoAlumnus02

          True and the record is what it is, but both series were over two and a half months ago and WMU is playing much better now and that is all that matters.  Besides, from a comparative perspective WMU wasn’t that much worse as far as common WCHA opponents are concerned.  The Broncos split with St. Cloud (1-1) as did UND in the regular season (2-2).  WMU was swept (0-2) by a UMD team and UND split with them (1-1).  Look, the reality is that you have two well-coached, confident teams who are both riding hot goaltenders into a one-game, single elimination situation.  I’m looking for a great game that can hopefully kick-start a great new rivalry a couple of seasons. Go Broncos!

        • WMUBroncoAlumnus02

          True and the record is what it is, but both series were over two and a half months ago and WMU is playing much better now and that is all that matters.  Besides, from a comparative perspective WMU wasn’t that much worse as far as common WCHA opponents are concerned.  The Broncos split with St. Cloud (1-1) as did UND in the regular season (2-2).  WMU was swept (0-2) by a UMD team and UND split with them (1-1).  Look, the reality is that you have two well-coached, confident teams who are both riding hot goaltenders into a one-game, single elimination situation.  I’m looking for a great game that can hopefully kick-start a great new rivalry a couple of seasons. Go Broncos!

      • Don’tbetooconfident

        It’s stupid to assume WMU doesn’t have a chance this weekend, make no doubt about it, the Sioux and Hakstol are taking this game very seriously.

    • Mr Hockey

      I’ve seen Western Michigan play 4 times this year and they’re a hard hitting bunch of guys. Don’t underestimate them.

    • CommAve

      Funny, the CCHA has more teams in the tourney.  And I’m a Hockey East fan.

    • BU2

      Your Sioux have the personnel year after year to physically dominate and mentally intimidate, but you don’t have your WCHA ref’s when you play in the NCAA tourney.  I grew up in WI and have a hard time with the style of play back here in the east.  It seems like they don’t want much checking in hopes of a more competitive game.  It probably is a recruiting advantage for western teams as it kind of perpetuates the style of play as physical players want to play in the WCHA and the CCHA where their abilities are highlighted.

      Any idea what the politically correct hockey uniform will look like?  I hear it will be just a bold “ND” on the sweater.  I don’t know why Fighting Irish is PC but Fighting Sioux isn’t.

      Go BC, WMU and UND.

      • guest

        “Arguably,” 100% of those of irish descent embrace the Fighting Irish name and heritage.  Keep in mind that percentage is a gross overestimation, but I’ve never met one that hasn’t liked it or found fault in it.  That’s coming from someone who is 3/4 irish.

    • wmu4Life

       Anything can happen, plus, this will not be the last time the Sioux and the Bronco’s play.  We will see what happens tomorrow at 1:30pm.  It is easy for all of us to make comments, look at stats, and make calls.  Being a coach myself, I never listen to what commentators or fans say, its not up to them.  I do not believe the players or coaches really worry about what we are saying.  Each team and coach respects their opponent, if not, that is were you can set up for a big disappointment.  These two teams are taking this game very seriously.  Two very good teams will face each other, like I said, anything can happen. 

  • MPLS Sioux

    I think all teams involved in the Western Regional would be remiss to overlook the 1st round opponent.  I’m hoping the Sioux can get pucks to the net and get some dirty goals and get help from the 2nd-4th lines because WMU’s defense “sounds” impressive although I have not seen them play this year yet.

    Let’s Go Sioux!!!

  • Joe C

    While I would rather watch the game live on my television, I will have to settle for watching it on my computer on ESPN3. Seems like a shame to have BU/Minnesota playing on tape-delay for television, along with UND/WM.

    In any case, this should be the best of the four regionals, given a number 3 seed that was much better before the off-ice problems, a number 4 seed that got hot and a hot number one seed.

    Perhaps the Northeast Regional can match the intensity, especially if it is a BC/Maine final. However, for “old school” possibilities, the West Regional seems really strong.

    I sure hope Millan can pull yet another couple of Jim Craig performances and get BU to the Frozen Four. Good luck all and GO BU!

    • UofMGoldenChokers

       Fox college sports is syndicating the west regional semi-final games.

      • CrumblyWillumz

        Shut up moron.

  • Gopher Stuck in Badgerland

    Gophers got this… best team in the regular season in the toughest hockey conference in the country. Yeah, NoDak got hot late… but that ends this weekend. The more consistent and BETTER team is going to take this Regional and that’s the Gophers!

    • MPLS Sioux

      Can I also get the powerball numbers for this coming week?

      • Mr Hockey

        27, 7, 24,19, 29, powerball 35

        • MPLS Sioux

          YES!!!

          • Mr Hockey

            Just trying to add humor to this otherwise stale argument that goes on year after year.

      • UofMGoldenChokers

         Go for the Mega Millions…..bigger cash pay out……

    • GoldyTheGreat

      Yeah hopefully. I think this has been a successful season for the Gophers already but it would be great if they could win a few more games. If they didn’t collapse last weekend in the third period when Lucia was thoroughly out-coached then this UM/BU game could have a different outlook. Its a toss up.

      North Dakota should cruise by WMU. 

      • CrumblyWillumz

        Yes a rematch would be epic. I think we can at least all agree on that. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing UND get bounced on Saturday, haha.

    • CrumblyWillumz

      Correct, sir.

  • collegehockeyfan

    This in my opinion is probably the deepest region in the tournament, but I know I’ll get ripped for this, but i don’t see the team coming from this region winning the FF.  The ND-WMU game is going to be the closest #1-#4 game in the tournament as well.  Both teams came off of a great conference tournament, so I believe which team takes control right away will win this one.  For the BU-UM game, this should also be a close game if BU doens’t give the gophers a chance to get the crowd into the game(although most UND fans will be cheering for BU).  Regardless, I think any of these four teams can win this one, but If I had to pick, I’m gonna go with the rivalry matchup with UND advancing. 

    • Buster Bronco

      It takes those of us in the CCHA an extra 2 seconds to read “ND-WMU” and “BU-UM,” since ND normally means Notre Dame and UM normally means the University of Michigan.

      • collegehockeyfan

         My mistake, should have clarified!  Thanks for notifying me of that.  Great start so far!

  • I Bleed Maroon And Gold

    I was expecting more Gopher-Sioux bashing than this, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see some actual talk about the games.  I think this is BY FAR the toughest regional, so no team should be overlooking anyone.  As a Gopher fan, I’d love to see them advance with a win over UND on Sunday, but who really knows what is going to happen.    

    Western Michigan and UND are both playing extremely well right now and getting great play from their goalies.  I wouldn’t put it past the Broncos to get a win, but I think Nelson-Kristo-Knight will be too tough and will get UND through to Sunday.  If the Gophers use last Friday as motivation instead of feeling sorry for themselves, I think they have a good shot at getting to Tampa.  If not, they probably don’t get by BU.  Patterson (and the rest of the team for that matter) has to play better than he did in the 3rd period last weekend to give us a chance.

    No matter what happens it should be three great games this weekend.  Good luck to all the teams, but mostly to the Gophers :)

    On a side note, if you look at the tv schedule, the only first round games that ESPNU isn’t televising live are the ones involving WCHA teams.  Ridiculous…

    • Joe C

      I thought the only reason EPSN was not broadcasting the West Regional live is because ESPNBoston only thinks Boston COLLEGE exists as an important team. They barely mentioned BU and Lowell, while pretending Maine does not exist.

      Because, everyone in Boston just adores Newton College.

    • Mr Hockey

      FSN is covering West Regional and also showing the Bulldogs game Saturday. ALL LIVE!!

      • I Bleed Maroon And Gold

        Yep they are, but I believe that is only regional coverage.  They will be able to be seen live in the region, but I found it interesting that the national coverage happened to exclude the WCHA teams.  The Minnesota-BU game will also be on NESN for those out east.

        • Joe C

          I wish I had NESN here during college hockey season. Not so much during Red Sox season, as it would turn me into a grouchy wreck. There are not a lot of people with NESN in the Mid-Atlantic. Here we have to watch MASN.

      • UofMGoldenChokers

         Fox College Sports Pacific is carrying both the Sioux/WM game and BU/mn, live.

  • SIOUXFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i like eggs

  • Chicago Mike

    “The last four periods North Dakota has played have been completely dominated by the Sioux, making it one of the hottest teams in the country right now.”
    “UND has won seven straight games going back to Feb. 25 and is 9-1-1 in the past 11 games.”This team is peaking it the perfect time.

  • wmu4Life

    Hope every one enjoys the games today and cheering their hearts out for their teams.  May they be as interesting as some of the other games so far. 

    This is my March Madness, forget basket ball, Frozen Four Tournament is where it is at!

    GO BRONCO’S!!!!

  • Fan Man

    Ok commentator and poster of that nice pic of a Sioux player getting leveled…   So bias towards the gophers on this site it is un Fn real!  Lets be honest, Holy cross took care of minnesota and UND went home to bed