Friday, April 11, 2014

And Then There Were Two ...

East will meet west on Saturday night in Philadelphia for the Frozen Four championship when Union College takes on the University of Minnesota in the NCAA Men’s Division I ice hockey national championship game at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) at the Wells Fargo Center.

Top-ranked Union earned its first title tilt after dispatching Boston College, 5-4, in the early semifinal on Thursday. The Dutchmen, who got three goals from Daniel Ciampini and 34 saves from Colin Stevens, are now undefeated in their last 16 games (15-0-1) since Jan. 31. Johnny Gaudreau, who will likely cop the Hobey Baker Memorial Award tonight at 6 p.m. (NHL Network), had a goal and two assists for the Eagles to boost his nation-best scoring totals to 36 goals and 44 assists for 80 points, although his last-second game-tying shot attempt from long range was stopped by Stevens.

Top-seeded Minnesota edged long-time rival North Dakota, 2-1, in the late semifinal on a shorthanded goal by defenseman Justin Holl with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation, his first goal of the 2013-14 campaign. The contest had been scoreless through two periods before the Golden Gophers and the former Fighting Sioux traded goals 32 seconds apart midway through the final stanza. Adam Wilcox had 36 saves for Minnesota, while Zane Gothberg made 26 stops for UND against his home-state school.

Union will seek its first national title and the ECAC’s second straight on Saturday, while Minnesota goes for its sixth NCAA crown and the Big Ten’s first ever in the fourth-ever encounter between the Dutchmen and the Gophers. Minnesota leads the all-time series, 2-1, with all three games played in Minnesota, although Union won the last meeting, 3-2, in 2010.

Something’s gotta give ….

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