When the Minnesota Golden Gophers take to the ice on Saturday evening to face Boston College in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, there will be a couple of logos on the boards that may stir up some bad memories – that of the Holy Cross Crusaders
This weekend’s Northeast Regional is hosted by Holy Cross, the team that beat the Minnesota two years ago in what is considered the greatest upset in NCAA tournament history. If Minnesota coach Don Lucia had any hope that the memory of that game wouldn’t be invoked, he certainly realized that wouldn’t be the case early on.
For starters, Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl is Minnesota’s host for the weekend, though Lucia said that he hoped to use that to his advantage.
“I called [Pearl] and said that I hope we’ll have all of the Holy Cross fans on our side this weekend,” said Lucia.
He did go on, though, to say that the loss in 2006, though tough to swallow was good for the game.
“The reality is that game, though it was disappointing for us, was great for college hockey,” said Lucia. “These teams, whether from the Atlantic or the CHA, they have to win their tournament to get here, so they’re on the top of their cycle.
“That team that comes out of these leagues is a good team. What you see if that there’s more parity to college hockey than there was five years ago. There’s more good teams than there was ten years ago, which is good for college hockey.”
Knowing the Power of Gerbe
Lucia knows that one player he’ll have to shut down on the BC front is Nathan Gerbe. The Hobey Baker finalist is, in Lucia’s words, “the type of player you want to pay to watch.
“He’s just a dynamic player. He’s a difference maker. He’s a game breaker.
“I wish he was on our team.”
Though admitting that the Eagles have plenty of offensive weapons, Lucia feels that shutting down Gerbe is of utmost importance to his team’s overall success on Saturday.
“We can’t let him get two or three points on the night or it’s going to be awfully difficult for us.”
Lucia on Pohl
Lucia discussed the injury to Tom Pohl that happened two weekend ago during the team’s game three quarterfinal victory over MSU-Mankato. Pohl, as most know by now, was checked into the boards and suffered a major head injury that led to the need for emergency, life-saving surgery for the senior.
“Here you are in game three and the loser may not make the NCAA tournament,” said Lucia, “and midway through the second period a guy gets seriously injured. And it’s kind of like this series, which was a spectacular series with two overtime games at that point in time, everything kind of goes on hold for 15 minutes.
“It happened right in front of our bench and we knew how serious it was, though we didn’t know it was life-threatening.”
The Gophers, of course, went on to win that night in double overtime and put together back-to-back wins in the WCHA Final Five to get into the NCAA Tournament. Lucia said that the resiliency that the club showed that night and throughout the season when difficult situations have arisen has made the Gophers stronger.
“With this group, it’s been one thing after another and they keep getting up off the mat,” said Lucia. “They’ve been through a lot and they’ve found a way to get to this point.”