NCAA National Semifinals: Gophers v Mavericks (4-7-22)

Ignatius L Hoops

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The top four offenses in NCAA Division I men’s hockey are the four teams left in the running for the 2022 national championship.

The Frozen Four will start in Boston on April 7 with Michigan facing Denver at 5 p.m. ET and Minnesota State playing Minnesota at 8:30.


Denver has the most prolific scoring team in the country (4.28 goals per game), followed by Minnesota State (4.1), Michigan (4.02) and Minnesota (3.61).

The Wolverines, Mavericks and Pioneers were No. 1 seeds in their regionals. It’s the first time since 2017 that three top regional seeds advanced to the Frozen Four and just the second time in 19 tournaments with a 16-team format that there have been three No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed (Minnesota).

Denver (29-9-1) is making its 17th Frozen Four appearance, not including a trip in 1973 that was vacated for using ineligible players. It has been in four of the last six Frozen Fours and won in 2017.

The Pioneers, who defeated UMass Lowell 3-2 and Minnesota Duluth 2-1 in the Loveland Regional, are looking to tie Michigan for the all-time lead with a ninth NCAA title.


This is the ninth time that the Frozen Four has been played in the Boston area, and the Pioneers have been in six. They won at Matthews Arena (then known as Boston Arena) in 1960 and at TD Garden (then known as FleetCenter) in 2004.

Minnesota State (37-5) joined UMass as teams making their first Frozen Four trip during the 16-team tournament era who also made it back in the next tournament. The Minutemen lost in the 2019 championship game before winning the title in 2021; the 2020 tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mavericks would love to follow in those footsteps, and they’ll be looking to erase memories of last year’s 5-4 semifinal loss to St. Cloud State. That was only the second time all season they allowed more than four goals.


Minnesota State got past Harvard 4-3 and Notre Dame 1-0 in the Albany Regional, with Dryden McKay earning his 10th shutout of the season in the final.

The team just up the road is waiting for the Mavericks in the semifinals. Minnesota (26-12) moved into a tie with North Dakota and Boston University for third all-time with its 22nd Frozen Four berth by downing UMass 4-3 in overtime and Western Michigan 3-0 in the Worcester Regional.

It’s the first time in the semifinals for the Gophers since 2014, when they lost to Union in the championship game. They have never played another team from Minnesota in the Frozen Four but that’ll end on April 7. Minnesota leads the all-time series 37-16-6 but the Mavericks won the last meeting, a 4-0 decision in the 2021 NCAA Loveland Regional final.

The Gophers were on the other side of a shutout in a regional final on Sunday, with Justen Close making 24 saves. The Minnesota-Minnesota State game will mark the second time in three Frozen Fours that one of the semifinals features two teams that qualified with a shutout. The other was Denver vs. UMass in 2019; It had never happened before then.


Michigan (31-9-1) completed the Frozen Four field with a 7-4 victory against Quinnipiac on Sunday, two days after it won an Allentown Regional semifinal 5-3. The Wolverines lost the last two games of the regular season to Notre Dame but went 6-0 in March to break a tie with Boston College by qualifying for their 26th Frozen Four.

Boston also has a special place in Michigan fans’ hearts: The Wolverines won their last of a record nine NCAA titles there in 1998. They’re the first No. 1 overall seed to advance to the Frozen Four since Denver in 2017.

Michigan has the NCAA record with 27 tournament victories but it was held out of last year’s event because of COVID-19


Jess Meyers:

ALBANY, N.Y. — Of the amazing 34 shutouts that Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay has posted in his career, two of them have come in the Mavericks’ program’s two biggest wins.

For the second consecutive season, McKay blanked an opponent in a regional final game, and helped the Mavericks earn a return trip to the NCAA Frozen Four. On Saturday evening at MVP Arena, McKay turned aside all 23 shots he faced in a 1-0 win over Notre Dame, sending the Mavericks to Boston and a date with either Minnesota or Western Michigan on Thursday, April 7.

McKay, a senior from suburban Chicago and one of three finalists for the Mike Richter Award, was particularly sharp in the final 10 minutes when a desperate Irish team created traffic in the crease and threw puck after puck his way.

Nathan Smith scored the game’s only goal for the Mavericks (36-5-0) who won the CCHA regular season and playoff titles on the way to being a top seed in the Albany Regional.

"We had to earn it this weekend," said Smith. "Tonight was a battle from the first shift. If you're going to make it to the Frozen Four you're going to have to do something extra. And I thought we had the extra effort tonight that got us through."
 


Gophers1992

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This is our toughest test yet, as can be expected in the F4. We have what it takes to beat MSU - they will try to muck things up and force us into mistakes. Play a smart disciplined game and our talent level will win out.
 

STPGopher

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This is our toughest test yet, as can be expected in the F4. We have what it takes to beat MSU - they will try to muck things up and force us into mistakes. Play a smart disciplined game and our talent level will win out.
Hopefully we can get their goalie to move side to side often and force him out of the crease.
 

UncleSam'sMisguidedChild

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Going to be a tough game. Those guys pushed the Gophers around last year. So much so that we never really got to see how good the Kato goalie is. The UMass game I think prepped the Gophers how to play a team like that. After the midway point of that game the Gophers were better at it than the Minutemen and carried it through the Western Michigan game. I really hope to see the same kind of "nasty" and discipline from the Gophers. If they do, I think, barring unfortunate bounces, they come home with the title.
 


WorkingMyTailOff

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Sure seems weird that Mankato State would be such a good team. Are there players on their roster that the Gophers offered but those chose MSU instead?
 

STPGopher

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Sure seems weird that Mankato State would be such a good team. Are there players on their roster that the Gophers offered but those chose MSU instead?
I don't know the answer to your question. I did see on their roster that the majority of their players are from out of state/ out of the country with like six Canadians, and two Alaskans.

Also of note, the roster is mostly guys coming up from the Juniors (No surprise) in addition to a New Hampshire, Clarkson, and Michigan transfer.

Minnesota State Mankato Roster
 

Ope3

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Game will be in Prime Time. 7:30 PM on ESPNU.

I wonder if MLB Opening Day getting pushed back, in turn moved this game from ESPN2. Masters 1st Round is already on ESPN that day.
 
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Ski U Mah Gopher

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Game will be in Prime Time. 7:30 PM on ESPNU.

I wonder if MLB Opening Day getting pushed back, in turn moved this game from ESPN2. Masters 1st Round is already on ESPN that day.
Probably.

They are paying MLB a ton of money to show a tripleheader on opening day.
 



WorkingMyTailOff

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I don't know the answer to your question. I did see on their roster that the majority of their players are from out of state/ out of the country with like six Canadians, and two Alaskans.

Also of note, the roster is mostly guys coming up from the Juniors (No surprise) in addition to a New Hampshire, Clarkson, and Michigan transfer.

Minnesota State Mankato Roster
Thank you and my comment was a little rude and lazy. They have been good for quite some time but it still seems odd to me. Yes, saw they had a couple of Hermantown guys too which I thought was weird (they normally go UMD).
 

#2Gopher

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Yes, unusual to be talking about Mankato in the final four. No doubt that the trend is to go with older players. College sports has changed particularly in the area of basketball and hockey. One and done in basketball probably means easy courses to take and perhaps almost nothing in the 2nd semester. Hockey is getting players who weren't good enough to go pro and after playing a while in all these other leagues, they thought they should at least get a free education while playing hockey. Am I right?
 

gophersfan

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Probably.

They are paying MLB a ton of money to show a tripleheader on opening day.
NO triple header for ESPN that day or night. ESPN2 was just the night game. MLB Network has the day games that day.
 

Gophers1992

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Yes, unusual to be talking about Mankato in the final four. No doubt that the trend is to go with older players. College sports has changed particularly in the area of basketball and hockey. One and done in basketball probably means easy courses to take and perhaps almost nothing in the 2nd semester. Hockey is getting players who weren't good enough to go pro and after playing a while in all these other leagues, they thought they should at least get a free education while playing hockey. Am I right?
Not totally. More and more NHL players these days are coming from college hockey, a huge jump from 20+ years ago. 3 of the 4 frozen 4 teams are “younger” teams with more high end talent. Minnesota and Michigan and Denver for the most part are loaded with several draft picks. Even Mankato has some too. The 24 year olds are a good equalizer for less talented teams like them, but I wouldn’t say it’s the trend.
 



STPGopher

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Thank you and my comment was a little rude and lazy. They have been good for quite some time but it still seems odd to me. Yes, saw they had a couple of Hermantown guys too which I thought was weird (they normally go UMD).
Seems like Denver and UMD have been Sweden's farm system.
 

STPGopher

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Not totally. More and more NHL players these days are coming from college hockey, a huge jump from 20+ years ago. 3 of the 4 frozen 4 teams are “younger” teams with more high end talent. Minnesota and Michigan and Denver for the most part are loaded with several draft picks. Even Mankato has some too. The 24 year olds are a good equalizer for less talented teams like them, but I wouldn’t say it’s the trend.
Don't scare me. I still have Union flashbacks...
 

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From the U's website, if you're going to Boston there's a couple events Wednesday/Thursday.

Wednesday, April 6 - Gopher Hockey Pep-Rally (Floors 1 & 2)
-MN Pep Band performance

Thursday, April 7 - Pre-game get-together (Floors 3 & 4)

Both at The Greatest Bar https://thegreatestbar.com/
 


Gophers1992

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Gophers lost that game because a 20 year old absolutely dominated them.

Union was not an old team like Mankato.
Correct. We also lost because our All-American goaltender decided that was the night to have the worst game of his gopher career.
 

Taji34

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Correct. We also lost because our All-American goaltender decided that was the night to have the worst game of his gopher career.
To be fair to him, our Defense wasn't doing him any favors that game either.
 


Frink

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The game will be shown a the Riverview Theatre. I haven't been to see any sports there before but it's a cool old theater.

 




2nd Degree Gopher

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Lotta bulletin board material in there for the other MN team lol.
Yeah, I hope that Mankato State (or Bemidji or UMD. . .) doesn't somehow get the idea that Minnesota views itself as the premier program in the state. ;)
 

Fleckoff

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I don't know the answer to your question. I did see on their roster that the majority of their players are from out of state/ out of the country with like six Canadians, and two Alaskans.

Also of note, the roster is mostly guys coming up from the Juniors (No surprise) in addition to a New Hampshire, Clarkson, and Michigan transfer.

Minnesota State Mankato Roster
Forgot the UMD coaches kid is on the team. They have about 10 Minnesotan's I believe on their roster.
 

Gophers1992

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Yeah, I hope that Mankato State (or Bemidji or UMD. . .) doesn't somehow get the idea that Minnesota views itself as the premier program in the state. ;)
No joke, it's far past time that we get the arrogance back in this fan base and program. We are a blueblood and people hate us anyway, so let's embrace it.
 







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