(Photo Credit: Russell Hons)
Normally, you want to play your best hockey at the end of the season. Entering the Frozen Four championship game, both teams are playing their best hockey. The University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Denver resemble that statement. Both teams enter the final game of the Frozen Four smoking hot. College hockey’s two best teams take center stage tonight on ESPN.
Since January 1, 2017, the Bulldogs have played in 23 games and have a 16-3-4 (.782) record. The Bulldogs haven’t been intimidated by adversity. They’ve have won eight games in a row, and five of those games have been one-goal games. Three of those five games have gone to overtime. Including two in the West Regional Championship.
Let’s take a look at the opposition, since January 1, 2017, the Pioneers have also played in 23 games and have a 20-3-0 (.869) record. In the last 18 games, the Pioneers are 17-1-0 (.944). Since losing to UND in the semifinal game of the Frozen Faceoff, the Pioneers have outscored their opposition 20-7. None of the games have really been that close. In their 3-1 win against Western Michigan, the Pioneers rested six of their top players before NCAA playoffs.
After the Frozen Faceoff’s third place head coach, Jim Montgomery explained his rational.
“I am here to win a national title, I don’t need any of my players getting hurt,” Montgomery said.
Code: Montgomery wasn’t going to let the Broncos take runs at his best players in a meaningless game. That move appears to have paid off. The replacement lineup still ended up beating the Broncos 3-1. Since that game, the Pioneers have been on fire.
The Pioneers also enter Saturday night’s game with a chip on their shoulder from losing to UND in the semifinals of the 2016 Frozen Four.
UMD wins 3-2 in double overtime.
Here are some of the stories making the news.
From everyone’s favorite Denver Post beat writer Mike Chanbers: It’s No. 1 Denver vs. No. 2 Minnesota Duluth for college hockey’s grand prize. And, Denver sweeps individual awards with Tanner Jaillet winning goaltender of the year.
Nick Tremaroli Let’s Go DU: Ultimate team player Evan Ritt finding his game at Frozen Four
Speaking of Barry Melrose. First, I want to be clear, Melrose is a great NHL hockey mind. There’s not doubt about it, but he needs to do some more research if he’s going to be an advocate for college hockey. He may want to attend college hockey games during the course of the season leading up to the NCAA playoffs. I think ESPN needs to eventually look for another play by play tandem in the announcer’s booth. Later this week, I will look at other options for calling the Frozen Four.