On the heels of our successful (??)...yes, lets go with successful...Friends Don't Let Friends Root for Wisconsin article earlier this week, previewing the NCAA Hockey Frozen Four taking place this weekend in Boston took on a whole new appeal. Since all four Minnesota teams in the 16-team field were eliminated in the regional, I figured we would give the pros and cons of the remaining four teams to help make you decide who to root for this weekend. So with no further delay, here are the four teams still trying to win a national title, and why you should or should not root for them.
Semifinal #1: Omaha Mavericks vs Providence Friars (4:00 ESPN 2)
Why you should root for Omaha:
Omaha is a Midwestern team, and a former WCHA foe (well...kind of). The Mavericks are making their first appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four, and just third appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history. The Mavericks are led by Former Gopher player Dean Blais. Blais won two national titles coaching North Dakota, and if he won a third with Omaha..oooh would the UND fans be mad. The Mavericks have 8 Minnesotans on their roster including several with Gopher ties. Freshman defenseman Luc Snuggerud is from Eden Prairie and is the nephew of former Gopher great Dave Snuggerud. Freshman forward Avery Peterson from Grand Rapids is a Minnesota Wild draft pick, and was the 2014 Mr. Hockey award winner. Sophomore forward Jake Guentzel is the son of Gopher Associate Head Coach Mike Guentzel.
Why you should NOT root for Omaha:
Dean Blais is a former North Dakota Head Coach who's name still is revered by several older fans who would love to see him coaching at Minnesota instead of Lucia. It will make some fans who wished that Jake Guentzel could have come to Minnesota, but basically never had a chance after the Tony Lucia area very annoyed with Don Lucia. We don't want to reward the NCHC by having a team from that conference win a national championship. (yes...really scraping the bottom of the barrel here)
Why you should root for Providence:
Providence has never won a national championship, and this is their first trip back to the Frozen Four since 1985. Providence is a #4 seed, and only got into the tournament because Minnesota won the Big Ten. Michigan beats the Gophers in the Big Ten Title game, this is their spot, not the Friars. Providence has never beaten Omaha, going 0-2 all-time against the Mavericks. Providence goalie Jon Gillies is a stud who has played in several world tournaments
Why you should NOT root for Providence:
No Minnesotans on the roster at all. Not a one. Friar coach Nate Leaman formerly coached Union, and left for more $$ at Providence opening the door to Union's current coach who lead his team to a national title last season against...well you know. Providence is a member of Hockey East, who rival the NCHC for the college hockey conference that definitely thinks the most highly of itself. Gillies was the starting goaltender for the US Junior National Team which lost in the quarterfinals in the World Junior Tournament this year ending a streak of medal wins for the USA. Providence got gifted into the Frozen Four by being the second to last team into the tournament and then getting to play five minutes away from home even though they were NOT this host of the regional. The 15th overall seed and they will travel a total of about an hour for all of their NCAA Tournament games despite not being a host for any of them. Thanks NCAA!
Semifinal #2 North Dakota vs Boston University (7:30 ESPN 2)
Why you should root for North Dakota:
Why you should NOT root for North Dakota:
Their clinging to a mascot that was outlawed several years ago. Their fans...pretty self-explanatory if you have ever had to deal with any of them.
They currently have 2 more national titles than Minnesota as their fans will waste no time letting you know, we really don't want that to be 3. They have 7 Minnesotans on their roster, several of whom had Gopher offers, but instead they chose to spend a few years in Grand Forks. You can't trust a person who makes that decision. Their coach. Dave Hakstol is a piece of work. He also has an affinity for bird flipping:
Seriously...you want more reasons? Ok then: Ben Blood. Joe Finley, Lawnmower Throwing, Peeing in elevators, frostbitten toes, The Lamoreaux family. North Dakota has stolen several recruits from Minnesota in recent years. One more title will only help that process. Hakstol has led North Dakota to seven Frozen Fours in 12 seasons. How many titles has he won in that time...0. He fails again, and you will see North Dakota fans calling for his head....again. That would be enjoyable for a Minnesota fan. I'm sure there is much more,and feel free to put them in the comments below.
Why you should root for BU:
Start with all the reasons above. Jack Eichel is a stud, the probably Hobey Baker award winner will be the 2nd pick in the NHL Draft and will have good NHL career. BU has one Minnesotan on their roster, freshman Chase Phelps from Edina. BU is out for revenge after losing to UND in the 1997 title game in Milwaukee. BU beat UMD who beat Minnesota...transitive NCAA Title in place!
Why you should NOT root for BU (on Saturday)
BU has 5 national titles, one more would give them 6 and pass the Gophers on the all-time list. Like Boston needs ANOTHER title to crow about. BU and Minnesota had a fairly intense rivalry in the mid-1970s. The Terriers lost to Minnesota in the NCAA semifinals in 1974 and 1976 and have never forgotten (remember the opening few locker room scenes in Miracle). Jack Eichel is a stud, but John Buccigross will make his seem like the second coming of Wayne Gretzky if he plays for the title on Saturday. Hockey East...yada yada yada.
So...Who Do I Root For?
If we look at our reasons why and why not to root for teams, it appears the Gopher fan rooting interest should be for Omaha to beat Providence in the first semifinal, BU to win over UND in the second, and then the Mavericks to beat BU in the title game on Saturday. Works for me. Officially on the Omaha Bandwagon. But really, we all know that we will be ok with whomever wining....as long as its not North Dakota.
To repeat a line from earlier in the week:
Friends don't let friends root for North Dakota.
That's all that is really important tonight.