Frozen Four Capsules | First Semifinal
Thurs., April 6 •
Milwaukee, Wis. •
p.m. ET •
COLLEGE | Northeast Regional Champion
Record: 23-12-3 (17-8-2
Hockey East, third)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: Two
NCAA Appearance: 26th
(most recent, 2005)
Frozen Four Appearance: 19th (most recent,
Head Coach: Jerry York
Key Players: Chris Collins,
F, Sr. (40 GP, 31-30—61); Brian Boyle, F, Jr. (40
GP, 22-30—52); Cory Schneider, G, So. (23-12-2, 2.03,
.930); Peter Harrold, D, Sr. (40 GP, 7-23—30)
What You Need to Know: The
Eagles, after a one-year absence, return to the Frozen Four
thanks to a pair of 5-0 wins in the Northeast Regional,
the second coming against archrival Boston University. They
appeared to be favorites to reach the Frozen Four for much
of the season before a February tailspin dropped them to
a No. 3 seed in the tournament, but they have bounced back
with wins in five of their last six.
Gamebreaker: The top goal
scorer remaining in the tournament, Chris Collins has that
rare combination of speed and skill that demands attention.
Once the most snakebitten player in college hockey –
he may have had more posts than goals last year –
he's developed a finisher's touch as a senior, and has teamed
with monster center Brian Boyle to create one of the nation's
best 1-2 combinations.
Achilles Heel: When the Eagles
need a goal, they know better than to count on their power
play, which is surprising for a team with so much skill.
BC ranks 45th nationally with the man advantage (15.3 percent)
and went 0-for-7 in the Northeast Regional Final against
BU. Another cause for concern in the Frozen Four, although
they've acquitted themselves quite well so far, is an inexperienced
defense. This will be their biggest test, especially against
the fleet-footed Sioux forwards.
Overachiever: For all the
times fans grouched that 6-foot-7 Brian Boyle was underachieving
in his first two seasons, it only seems fair to show him
some love here. Boyle's progression took a big step forward
last year, when he went from awkward freshman to 19-goal
scorer as a sophomore, but most of that damage was done
in front of the net on the power play. This year he's been
a more complete player, capable of leading BC in any situation
– even hopping back on D when needed.
Secret Weapon: In his first
11 college games center Benn Ferriero didn't have a single
point, but once he got on the scoresheet he has been on
a roll. The rookie has 16-8-24 in his last 29 games, including
7-4-11 since Feb. 23. Still not a household name –
did you know it's pronounced FAIR-ee-oh? – he could
become one if he plays as well in Milwaukee as he has recently.
Speed: When you send a line
over the boards that's just barely taller than the boards,
they better have wheels. What we call "The G-Force
Line," BC's collection of 5-foot-9 and unders that's
centered by Nathan Gerbe, flies all over the ice, wreaking
havoc on opponents' breakouts and creating chances for the
Skill: As good as Collins
has been all year, BC's best player is goaltender Cory Schneider,
a first-round draft pick who, at his best, presents shooters
with almost no options. His combination of quickness and
positioning served him well in the Northeast Regional, where
he earned MVP honors after a pair of shutouts.
Grit: His game isn't exactly
gritty, but senior Peter Harrold has shown a warrior's spirit
while leading a young Eagle defense this season. The team
captain, he's called upon in every situation. It will be
his task to not only slow North Dakota, but also to show
the freshmen and sophomores around him what they can expect
from the Frozen Four atmosphere.
Recent Boston College Line Chart
||Collins and Boyle have 53
goals combined on the season, but only two of the team's
10 last weekend.
the captain, is the only junior or senior among the
DAKOTA FIGHTING SIOUX | West Regional Champion
Grand Forks, N.D.
Record: 29-15-1 (16-12-0 WCHA, tied for
Qualified: WCHA playoff champions
NCAA Championships: Seven (1959, 1963,
1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000).
NCAA Appearance: 21st (most recent, 2005)
Frozen Four Appearance: 16th (most recent,
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol
Key Players: Drew Stafford, F, Jr. (41
GP, 24-23—47); T.J. Oshie, F, Fr. (43 GP, 24-21—45);
Travis Zajac, F, So. (45 GP, 17-27—44); Jordan Parise,
G, Jr. (24-8-1, 2.08 GAA, .933 sv. pct.)
What You Need to Know: In
theory, North Dakota had the easiest (or at least the most
convenient) route to Milwaukee, playing Michigan and Holy
Cross at home, and scoring 10 goals in the process. The
Sioux took the top trophy home the last time the Frozen
Four was played in Milwaukee (’97), beating Boston
University 6-4 in the title game.
Gamebreaker: Drew Stafford
was born in Milwaukee, and lived there for a few years while
his father skated in the minor leagues for the Admirals.
His homecoming of sorts comes after he missed the team’s
run to the WCHA Final Five title with an injury, then returned
for the regionals to record a goal and two assists. Young
talent included, this junior is the key man for the Sioux.
Achilles Heel: For the only
team in the field that played in last year’s Frozen,
it may be surprising that the young Sioux seem most at risk
of having key players awed by their surroundings at the
Bradley Center. True, they won the WCHA Final Five in a
bigger building, but that was with a mostly-friendly crowd
on their side. One wonders how the freshmen will perform
on this big stage.
Overachiever: Yes, he went
in the first round of the NHL draft last summer, but coming
directly from a high school program to the WCHA, not many
expected forward T.J. Oshie to lead all freshmen in goals
(24) and lead the nation in game-winning goals (9). And
teammates say he’d rather run an opponent over than
score a goal.
Secret Weapon: The one freshman
forward most people didn’t spend the season raving
about, Ryan Duncan, has averaged nearly a goal per game
in the playoffs. What the Calgary native lacks in size (5-foot-6,
142 pounds) he makes up for in an ability to put the puck
in the net, with 16 markers as he heads to Milwaukee.
Speed: There’s been
plenty of controversy about the logo on the Fighting Sioux
sweaters, although it’s doubtful that opposing defenders
have gotten a good look at the allegedly offensive insignia.
Look for the likes of Spriko, Oshie, Zajac, Stafford and
Toews on the ice and you might just see green and white
Skill: Even before he followed
the Red River upstream from Winnipeg to Grand Forks, scouts
all across the NHL were raving about the hands/wheels combination
that rookie Jonathan Toews brings to the ice. With 21 goals
in his first year, he’s done nothing to make those
who see him as a top five draft pick this summer think twice.
Grit: Coaches have said that
last year’s Sioux club was much more physical on defense.
If the ’06 version is more tender, it’s not
for lack of blue line size. North Dakota’s got four
guys 6-foot-0 or better playing rearguard, including 6-7
monster freshman Joe Finley, and junior Matt Smaby, who
leads the team with 109 penalty minutes.
Recent North Dakota Line Chart
Sioux have five players with 16-plus goals, and three
of them are freshmen.
is 6-2 in his career in the NCAA Tournament.