Usually when a team is "sent home" in a tournament, it is a bad thing. Not quite for the 2015 BU hockey team, who advanced to the Frozen Four in Boston after claiming the Northeast Regional Championship Saturday afternoon.
To say that was one of the most exciting (and/or stressful, whatever way you want to look at it) weekends in my time of watching BU hockey would be a complete understatement. Obviously, the 2009 Frozen Four is up there, but I can't remember two games that were more compelling and with that much at stake that top this past weekend.
Looking past the memorable plays, the O'Regan goal Friday and Rodrigues' unreal curl and shoot goal Saturday, there is a lot that needs to be cleaned up if the Terriers are to get past North Dakota next Thursday.
Too many times this weekend the Terriers were hemmed into their own end for long stretches of time. That's two fold, though. Minnesota Duluth played a great possession game for the first half and didn't really even score in their best chances. Lets be honest, O'Connor should have stopped their second goal and he was completely lost on their first. After getting out shot 13-6 in the second, BU, like they have all year, turned their game around in the third and flipped the script, outshooting the Bulldogs 13-5.
If there's one thing that BU really needs to improve on, it's getting pucks out of their own zone. I'll say it again, Duluth, and to some extent Yale, trapped the Terriers in the defensive zone for long stretches of that game Saturday. Simple chips off the glass instead of cross ice and homerun passes will be a must against the Sioux.
UMD and and Yale didn't have the most potent offenses in the world, nor did they have a standout goal-scorer. North Dakota does and they also have a wall in their own net in Zane McIntyre. Goals may come at a premium against the Sioux.
Anyway, more on that as the game approaches in the coming days.
How The Field Was Narrowed
If you don't know who won these games already, you live under a rock, but here ya go anyway:
Friday: In the West Regional in Fargo, North Dakota topped Quinnipiac 4-1... St. Cloud State came back and in heartbreaking fashion, eliminated Michigan Tech 3-2 in overtime... In the only other game to go to OT, BU dropped Yale 3-2 in Manchester... Lastly, Minnesota Duluth rolled past in-state rival Minnesota 4-1.
Saturday: Down in Providence, Denver knocked out Boston College with a 5-2 win... Later that night at the 'Dunk, Providence upset Miami 7-5 in the tournament's craziest game thus far... Moving to the Midwest Regional in South Bend, where Nebraska Omaha bounced Harvard with a 4-1 victory... In the upset of year, RIT took out number-one overall seed Minnesota Mankato 2-1... North Dakota punched their ticket to the Frozen Four with a decisive 4-1 win over NCHC foe St. Cloud... Finally, BU survived a 3-2 decision over Minnesota Duluth to head to the Frozen Four.
Sunday: Two more tickets needed punching to Boston and in the first game, Providence skated past Denver 4-1... Rounding out the Frozen Four, Nebraska Omaha advanced after blanking RIT 4-0.
So it's Omaha vs Providence at 5:00 and BU vs North Dakota at 8:30 on April 9th at the Garden.
Hey Wait A Second...
That date sound familiar to anyone?
Oh that's right... BU beat Vermont 5-4 on that same date six years ago in the Frozen Four in Washington DC. And yes, this year's National Championship game falls on the sixth anniversary of BU's 5th National Title, the 4-3 overtime win against Miami.
Much more to come on the North Dakota game... 10 days away.