NCAA Tournament | Midwest Regional
Minnesota Duluth upends its rival to earn a
spot in the Frozen Four
Caig, M. Peluso
Guyer, B. Tallackson
Isaac Reichmuth, 60:00, 22 saves, 1 GA
Kellen Briggs, 58:55, 17 saves, 3 GA
MD 4/8; MN 4/8
Plays: MD 0-3; MN 1-3
Junior Lessard, Minnesota Duluth
F: Evan Schwabe, Minnesota Duluth
F: Aaron Gill, Notre Dame
D: Chris Harrington, Minnesota
D: Keith Ballard, Minnesota
G: Isaac Reichmuth, Minnesota Duluth (MVP)
Mich. – Minnesota-Duluth advanced to the Frozen Four by
beating Minnesota for the fifth time this season.
How many times
will Bulldog fans get to read a sentence like that?
becomes commonplace for UMD to rank among college hockey’s
elite remains to be seen, but the players and coaches at the school
making its first national semifinal appearance since the mid-80s
certainly understand that this 2003-04 season is special.
week, when I wasn’t skating, it gave me a chance to sit
back and think about it a little bit,” senior Junior Lessard
said after the Bulldogs beat Minnesota 3-1 in the Midwest Regional
final to set up a date with Denver on April 8 in Boston. “We’ve
done some great things, but we haven’t really accomplished
anything yet. I just try to look forward to what we’re going
to do, not what we have done. I think that’s what great
players do. They look ahead. It’s never enough, they always
while realizing that what they’re experiencing right now
will be a special memory in 10, 20, 50 years, are trying to keep
their focus on the future. Same goes for UMD bench boss Scott
Sandelin, making his first Frozen Four trip as a head coach. He
wants to avoid counting accomplishments at this point because,
until the Bulldogs lose, their experience hasn’t climaxed
we get settled down for a few hours tonight, I’ll think
about what we’ve done a bit,” Sandelin said. “But
I know and these guys know that this isn’t the end of it.
We want to keep going. We’re only half done.
made some memories, but we want to make a lot more.”
NOT THE CHARM
seniors were three wins away from being the first class in a half-century
to win back-to-back-to-back national titles. But then they ran
into the buzzsaw that is UMD, and their season is over sooner
than most people expected.
moments certainly out-weighed their disappointments during their
four-year tenure in Minneapolis, but they seemed to be the most
despondent of the three losing teams at the Midwest Regional.
choked back tears during his postgame press conference. Troy Riddle
was quiet and introspective.
are even tougher to take when you’re on top.
the fact that we’ve been on top the last couple years, and
this is my last year, you naturally want to go out on top,”
Riddle said. “But that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Lucia, perhaps because his term at Minnesota hasn’t expired,
wasn’t as broken up as his seniors. He was able to reflect
on happier moments, such as the team’s amazing 16-game postseason
winning streak, which ended Sunday.
a tremendous accomplishment,” Lucia said. “They had
that weight on their shoulders all year, and I couldn’t
be more proud of our guys and what they accomplished. The locker
room here is devastated. It’s tough for the seniors to lose
their last game, and to come so close. It’s a tough game
to lose when you’re one game away from the Frozen Four.
That’s the one that hurts more than any other. They’ll
feel better in a couple of days.”
INCH's Three Stars of the Weekend
Thomas Vanek, Minnesota
he didn’t dent the score sheet Sunday, Vanek was such
a force in Saturday’s game against Notre Dame that
he still gets the nod here. Amazingly, he was left off the
All-Regional team in favor of the Irish’s Aaron Gill.
Evan Schwabe, Minnesota Duluth
Scoring the first goal in both games, Schwabe was
the guy who got things rolling for the Bulldogs this weekend.
He might have been the No. 1 star if not for a dumb slashing
penalty that allowed the Gophers to cut their deficit to
2-1 in the third period Sunday.
Isaac Reichmuth, Minnesota Duluth
Rarely tested by Michigan State, Reichmuth was
a stud against the Gophers and allowed just one goal all
weekend. Point-black saves on one-timers by Vanek and Jon
Waibel in the first period set the tone for Sunday’s
AND HEARD AT VAN ANDEL
in the Van Andel pressbox during the first intermission, with
UMD leading 1-0: “The Gophers just need to give up one more
goal and they’ll be all set.” After all, Notre Dame
led Minnesota 2-0 after 20 minutes Saturday, but the Gophers came
back with the next five goals. Obviously, the strategy didn’t
the two most proximate teams eliminated on the first day of the
regional, there were understandable concerns about the crowd (or
lack of) that would show up Sunday. The unofficial over/under
was set at 3,000. But, while the audience was far from enormous
(3,206), the atmosphere in Van Andel was better than it was Saturday.
in Sunday’s second period, no one was within 20 feet of
Gopher freshman Ryan Potulny when he wiped out in front of the
UMD crease and knocked the net loose. The gaffe prompted a simple,
but well-timed, “Learn to skate” chant from the UMD
my haste yesterday, I forgot to mention that Michigan State’s
NCAA Tournament scoreless streak reached 194:18 with Saturday’s
5-0 loss to UMD. The Spartans have been blanked in their last
three games (2-0 vs. North Dakota in the 2001 Frozen Four, 2-0
vs. Colorado College in the 2002 West Regional and Saturday) and
haven’t scored since Rustyn Dolyny finished a 5-1 win over
Wisconsin in the third period of the 2001 West Regional. Coincidentally,
that game was at Van Andel Arena.
the postgame press conference, Reichmuth was asked about playing
Denver again, this time on a little bigger stage. Understanding
the humor built into the question, Reichmuth softly repeated,
“little bigger stage,” and laughed.
was the only one of the four teams in Grand Rapids without a band.
Asked about it, Sandelin deadpanned, “I bet our band will
be in Boston.”
intermissions, replays of classic overtime NCAA Tournament games
were shown on Van Andel’s video boards. From Northern Michigan’s
8-7 triumph over Boston University in 1991 to Colorado College’s
4-3 win over Vermont in 1996, the replays were certainly better
intermission entertainment than Score-O.
had a restaurant-quality glove save on Barry Tallackson with about
five minutes to play Sunday. Tallackson had a one-timer in front
of the crease, but Reichmuth nabbed it as he whipped his glove
up and then forward. The theatrical-looking save was reminiscent
of Patrick Roy and brought the UMD crowd to its feet.
Vanek, who has the tools to be an unstoppable force, oftentimes
stops himself. Several times during Sunday’s game, he could
have made a play with a little bit of hustle. But he seemed disinterested
in the defensive end and lackadaisical without the puck in the
offensive zone. Too many Randy Moss moments.
aforementioned brain spasm happened when he took exception to
Minnesota’s Keith Ballard hooking him after the whistle.
Instead of skating away and taking solace in the team’s
2-0 lead, Schwabe retaliated with a vicious two-handed slash that
could be heard in Kalamazoo. Less than two minutes later, the
lead was just 2-1 and the Gophers temporarily had momentum. Fortunately,
for Schwabe’s sake, he and his teammates buckled down and
got the win nonetheless.
to the Frozen Four, where it will meet league rival Denver on
April 8 in Boston. The Bulldogs swept the season series 2-0-0
with 1-0 and 6-3 wins right after New Year’s in Denver.
loses plenty of talent up front to graduation. Troy Riddle, Matt
Koalska, Grant Potulny, Jon Waibel and Joey Martin have all exhausted
their eligibility. The Gophers’ defensemen have seasons
remaining, but when you recruit players of the Gophers’
caliber, there’s always the chance they will bolt early
for a professional contract. Among those thought to be candidates
for an early departure are defenseman Keith Ballard and forward
Thomas Vanek. Kellen Briggs and Justin Johnson are expected to
return between the pipes.