Now THAT was the effort we've been waiting for! Probably because it was a Saturday instead of a Friday, right? Whatever it was, the Minnesota Gopher hockey team beat a very good Boston University team to advance to a rematch with North Dakota Sunday afternoon in the West Regional Final. The winner goes to the Frozen Four, a place the Gophers haven't been since 2005.
Last week against UND in the Final Five semis the Gophs jumped out to a 3-0 lead before completely falling apart, losing 6-3. Against BU Minnesota scored 7 times, but it was much closer than the score indicates. Each team took nine penalties, each team's dynamic power play scored twice, and both sides registered at least 34 shots, with the Gophs piling up a whopping 42. BU played them tough the entire way, but when the Terriers pushed the Gophers pushed back and then some. BU trailed by two goals after two but scored quickly in the third on a power play to make the score 4-3. They kept coming, but unlike last week, when the Gophers folded, they rallied with an answer from Nico Sacchettito make it 5-3, then held on the rest of the way, scoring two late empty-netters to seal the victory.
It's the kind of effort and resiliency the Gophers are capable of, and they showed up at the absolute best time. And now they need to do it again against a team that flat-out embarrassed them a week ago in this exact same rink. Last week's game was to go to the Final Five championship game. Sunday's game is so much bigger, with a berth in the Frozen Four on the line between two of the oldest and most hated rivals in hockey.
If the Gophers win, last week's debacle would make it all the more sweeter to get revenge against North Dakota on the same rink but a much bigger stage with much more on the line. Once again the Gophers have the opportunity in front of them, and if the win over BU is any indication, they not only have the talent, but the effort and tenacity to do it again.
Next stop Tampa? We'll find out Sunday at 430 on E!SPNU.