Thursday, March 22, 2012

BU-Minnesota Preview, NCAA Round One

The waiting is over! Two years have passed since the Terriers last appeared in the NCAA tournament. That year was 2009; the year BU went 31-6-4 on their way to the program's fifth National Championship. 2010 was the year of the "championship hangover" and last year, the wheels fell off after the team had the best start to a season in over a decade, going 6-0-6 to open the schedule. 

From The Vault
BU's last NCAA Tournament Game was against Miami of Ohio
in the 2009 National Championship game in Washington DC.
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
Despite losing three key members of the squad this season, BU is finally back in the NCAA tournament -The first time in the blog's history.

BU and the three other schools in the West Regional have by far the toughest road to the Frozen Four. BU will take on perennial power and eight-seeded Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota. The winner of this game will get the winner of WCHA Champion, North Dakota and CCHA Champion, Western Michigan. 

Looking at Minnesota
The Gophers got off to a very strong start this season, charging out of the gates with an impressive 14-4-1 record before the holiday break. That's when the Gophers hit a bumpy patch in the road. They won the opening game of the Mariucci Classic, a tournament in which they host, but then lost the championship game 2-1 to Northeastern. That was the first of three straight loses and part of a skid in which Minnesota went 1-4-0. The lone win came at North Dakota, a 6-2 victory. 

In the WCHA tournament, Minnesota was the top seed, as they won the regular season title on the last day of the season. The Gophers defeated Alaska-Anchorage in two games (2-1, 7-3) in the Quarterfinals. In the WCHA Final Five (yes Final Five, that's not a typo) Minnesota was up 3-0 on North Dakota, only to see the Sioux score six unanswered goals in little over 20 minutes of play. UND won 6-3, eliminating the Gophers in the semis of the WCHA tournament.

Scouting the Gophers
Minnesota's leading point getter is Erik Haula, a sophomore from Pori Finland. In 40 games played, Haula has 46 points, 19 goals, and 27 assists. UofM's leading goal scorer is World Junior standout, Nick Bjugstad, who is also a sophomore. Bjugstad has racked up 24 goals and 16 assist in 37 games played. Outstanding freshman, Kyle Rau is third on the team in points with 38.   

I have the luxury of watching most of the Minnesota games on TV, because for some reason my TV picks up the feed from FCS. That being said, UofM is not just limited to those three players. Lookout for Nick Condon and Zach Budish to have an impact on Saturday's game. 

In Goal
Senior goalie Kent Patterson comes into the NCAA tournament with a .910 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average. In 40 games played, Patterson has a 26-13-1 record and seven shutouts. 

The Last Time The Met...
was way back in 2005. Minnesota came to Boston, and was the last team to ever play BU in old Walter Brown Arena. Minnesota won the last game at Walter Brown, 2-1. The next night, Minnesota became the first team to play the Terriers in Agganis Arena. BU won the opener at their new ice palace, 2-1 behind a strong goaltending performance by John Curry and goals from Brad Zancanaro and Peter MacArthur.

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