NCAA Frozen Four
Frozen Four Semifinals: Coach's Takes
Inside College Hockey talked to coaches
whose teams have played the teams involved in each of Thursday's
semifinal games. In exchange for anonymity, they gave us
their candid breakdowns of the matchups.
Maine vs. Michigan State
Michigan State is a methodical team that will
wait and wait and wait. The more patient they are, the harder
they are to play against. They play a sound, non-pressure
type game, wait for you to make a mistake, and then bury
They’ll also hurt you on the power play
– they’ve got a pretty good power play. The
best way to beat them is to score first and get them to
come out of their shell. If you get up by one or two, it’s
tough for them to play an up-and-down kind of game because
I don’t think Rick Comley preaches high risk. The
longer the game goes where they’re tied or up one,
the harder it is to play against them. They’ll slow
it right down.
Prior to the Midwest Regional, they had given
up a lot of goals, which was a concern. They’re not
as good defensively as they’ve been in years past,
but [goaltender Jeff] Lerg covers up a lot of that. They
play a 1-4and line their guys up, so it’s tough to
penetrate the offensive zone if you’re not willing
to put the puck past them and go get it.
Maine has four outstanding players: Leveille,
Purcell, Soares, and Ryan. Those are four definite game-changers.
They play a very deliberate system that is designed to get
the puck into those four guys' hands. They've got a lot
of experience at this level, and that's a real factor. You
can see that they're not going to make any mistakes through
the process, because they know the process so well.
They have a great power play – maybe
the best in the county. Those guys know what they're doing
and can beat you a couple different ways. They can beat
you by just shooting, and they're very good from outside.
But if you try to move guys up high and take that away,
they can work the puck down low and beat you there.
You can try to throw [the puck] at [goaltender
Ben Bishop’s] feet, but the closer you get to him,
the more problems you have. You need to be about five feet
away from him, because when you're two feet away, he has
that reach and can poke everything away."
Not much seems to rattle them. They're very
deliberate and let their style dictate the flow of the game.
You can beat them down low if you cycle the puck, but your
defensemen have got to be sharp. If you have trouble on
the back end, you're going to get beat.
Boston College vs. North Dakota
Boston College’s transition game is
really good, and they have good team speed and tremendous
goaltending. They’ve got good players on all four
lines. The third- and fourth-line guys are honest guys who
won’t hurt you unless you make a mistake. They don’t
have a Chris Collins-type guy who can come down the ice
and rip one from the blue line and score, but the do have
guys who can break you down one-on-one.
If you play a high-risk game and turn the
puck over, you’re playing right into their hands.
Every time I watched them play BU, the Terriers did a really
good job at making them work for everything. You’ve
got to grind it out and play a physical game – I’m
not sure that they want to play that style – force
them to come out of their element, and make them work to
get possession. North Dakota has the players and can play
the type of game to get that done, and it’ll help
them to score first and not take more risks than they have
Their backbone is [goaltender Cory] Schneider.
You’ve got to get traffic in front of him. They feel
their goaltending is so superior that they can take chances
and he’ll bail ‘em out.
Against North Dakota, you've got to get through
the first period. They want to come out right away and play
an intimidation-type game, get a lead, and roll the lines.
So early in the game you've got to stay out of the box.
As the game wears on, they cut their bench back and use
that top line more.
Your power play has to answer early. They
have a very aggressive forecheck and they want to finish
every check, especially early, which can lead to some penalties.
Your power play has to hop on those opportunities early
or you'll have a negative.
[Philippe Lamoureux has] got a little bit
of [Jordan] Parise in him. He's not a pretty goalie, and
he's got a lot of holes, but he's a winner. The Michigan
game is a perfect example of how he finds a way.