First, just let me say it- it felt GREAT to see the Gophers beat UND. I mean sure, it's always great to beat your arch-rival, but in a game that sends you to the Frozen Four? A game that avenges last week's loss to the same team that was like a train wreck, car crash and horror show all rolled into one (ok, ok a little dark and over-the-top but you get the idea)? Any time the Gophers beat
the Sioux -whoops, I mean, the "hey what do you know, our new jerseys suddenly showed up just in time for the playoffs so we'd be eligible to play! What a coincidence!" guys in green and black it's great, but yesterday's win felt so much better.
Second, I know Gopher hockey fans are supposed to expect to win the WCHA and get to the Frozen Four, but is it wrong that I just have that "happy to be here" feeling? Seriously. Minnesota hadn't played in a Frozen Four since 2005, the NCAA tournament since 2008 (when they lost to, guess who? BC), and hadn't won the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA regular season champs since 2007. So a lot happened this season. A lot of good things. And sprinkled in were enough, um, Friday nights to make us wonder if the Gophers would get to the Frozen Four this year.
And here they are. In Tampa, of all places, which obviously just screams college hockey (kind of like E!SPN screams college hockey. Fans at BC were thrilled a regular season lacrosse match preempted the start of their regional semi-final against Air Force. You know, kind of like Gopher fans were probably equally thrilled their game against BU was on FSN+ instead of E!SPNU at all. Again, because of a regular season lacrosse game. Thanks E!SPN for supporting college hockey), but it's great to see them back in the Frozen Four. And while I obviously want them to win two more games, I'm just excited they made it here.
Then I found out they were playing BC. Crap. Crap, crap, CRAP! As CHN points out, the four teams at the Frozen Four are Minnesota and BC, who have nine natty titles between them, and Union and Ferris State (I am the type of person who can't help but call them Ferris Bueller State even though it's probably not funny. I still giggle and quote Ferris Bueller lines anytime I see them. Yep, I am that guy) who have won a grand total of one NCAA tournament game before this season. Their new combined total? Five! So that's fun. How do two of the most successful programs in college hockey end up playing each other in the semis while Union and Abe Frohman play in the other? I know, I know, I know BC was the top seed and the Gophers the lowest of the four, so I get it makes SENSE to pair them this way. It just would have been cool to have Minnesota and BC in opposite semis and see what happens.
But it is what it is, and again, I'm just happy they're here. BC is the prohibitive favorite, and the best team in the country, and maybe that's a good thing. The Gophers haven't been underdogs since...since...checking schedule...probably since the second week of the season when Minnesota was ranked 14th and UMD was 9th and the Gophers won on back-to-back nights in Duluth. But really, that was the last time and only time this season, as even Sunday I certainly wouldn't have said they were underdogs against UND. But even that probably doesn't matter.
The Gophers are back in the Frozen Four, and they have proven that when they play well, be it last weekend, or way back in October in Duluth, they can beat anybody. So whether they're playing Boston College, Union, or the Sausage King of Chicago, if the Gophers come to play, I like their chances, and I'm just excited to see if they can win one or two more games this weekend. Minnesota is back in the Frozen Four, and that's what matters most.