Today is the day! The stage is set in Philadelphia and at 4:00 PM (CST) the puck with drop. Game one will feature Union and Boston College and at 7:30 PM (CST) North Dakota faces Minnesota (both games on ESPN 2).
After an eventful first and second round, these are the four that remain. We will take a look at the road they traveled to Philly and who will be the 2014 National Champions.
Union v. Boston College
The Dutchmen cruised past Vermont winning 5-2 in round number one. In the second round, Union also made quick work of Providence with a 3-1 victory. As for BC, Johnny Gaudreau put on a show getting six point (3 G, 3A) against Denver. Then the Eagles had a tight contest with UMass-Lowell. Boston College came out a winner 4-3 in regulation.
This will be one heck of a hockey game this afternoon. The soon to be Hobey Baker winner, Johnny Gaudreau, and his line mate, Kevin Hayes, will need to rack up the scoring chances for BC. They were able to sneak past the best goal tender in the country, Connor Hellebuyck, but Union has a much better offense than UMass. The real pressure will fall onto Thatcher Demko. The Eagles' net minder has been solid all season, but beatable. If the BC offense doesn't score (luckily that hasn't been a problem), then Boston College will spoil the perfect season for Gaudreau.
This game will be very uptempo match up with two great offenses squaring off. It will depend which goalie stands on his head to make it to the finals.
North Dakota v. Minnesota
The Sioux knocked off a number one seeded Wisconsin and then took down the number two seed in Ferris State. It took two overtimes to beat Ferris, but North Dakota has 14 players that have been drafted to the NHL. There is not a lack of talent on this team; it comes down to their execution on the ice. As for Minnesota, they have not played a close game in this tournament. They beat Robert Morris 7-3, then defeated St. Cloud State 4-0.
These are two teams that have talent spilling over the boards on every shift. Both schools have storied programs and multiple national titles. This game will come down to what team carries out their game plan better. If it is close late, North Dakota is coming off a high pressure, two overtime game and I would have to give them the advantage. As for the overall better team, Minnesota has been great all year long.
National Title Game
Two number one seeds meet up in the final and as expected, it should be a good one. I don't have much to say about this match-up if it happens. These are two damn good hockey teams. The great thing about the NCAA hockey tournament is that truly anyone can win. Whichever team stays out of the penalty box and has a hot goalie will come away with the trophy in this one. Both teams have been in the top five all season long and have the horses to win.
Sit back, relax and get ready for a wild weekend in Philadelphia.
2014 NCAA National Champions: Union