The Frozen Four’s early semifinal reflects a little bit of the new-frontier nature of the tournament’s location in that both teams are making their first appearance on the big stage.

However, there is nothing novel about the other semifinal, which pits a pair of legendary programs in Boston College and Minnesota, both looking to add another title to their already illustrious resumes.

For complete Frozen Four coverage, visit USCHO's Frozen Four Central.

“It’s a great matchup and I’m really looking forward to watching the game,” said Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson, whose team faced both the Golden Gophers and Eagles during the first half of the year. “They’re both outstanding hockey programs with great traditions so the game itself will come down to small things like faceoffs and taking care of the puck.”

Top-ranked Boston College enters the Frozen Four as the clear favorite of the quartet, riding a nation’s best 17-game winning streak dating to Jan. 21 that resulted in both Hockey East regular season and playoff crowns.

“From top to bottom [the Eagles] are most talented team in the country and when they put it all together they are scary to play against,” Pearson said. “They’re peaking at the right time and coach Jerry York does a great job of making that happen every year.”

What’s more remarkable is that this year’s Eagles team succeeded without the elite offensive talents representative of York’s prior championship squads of 2001, 2008 and 2010, such as forwards Nathan Gerbe and Cam Atkinson. In their place is a balanced Boston College squad that features six players with 34 or more points.

“Boston College has a lot of threats offensively,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, whose team scored victories against BC and Minnesota in their single meetings this season. “It’s hard to look for one line to shut down because they have three lines that can score.”

Meanwhile, for the first time in four years someone other than John Muse is manning the Eagles’ goal. Parker Milner has made Boston College fans forget their two-time national championship winning goaltender by going undefeated since Dec. 2. In that time, he has allowed more than two goals just once (in a 4-3 win over New Hampshire). In that span the standout junior posted five shutouts, including both games of the Northeast Regional.

“The only weakness [the Eagles] had in the first half of the season was that they weren’t sure about their goaltending,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon, whose team opened the season at Minnesota, then closed the year at Boston College. “But Milner has emerged as one of the best goaltenders in college hockey right now.” 

What does remain in place for Boston College is a devastating transition game triggered by one of the nation’s best two-way defenders in junior Brian Dumoulin.

“[BC] has one of the fastest teams in the country,” Sneddon said. “Their transition game is outstanding.”

Standing in the way of the Eagles’ trip to the title game is Minnesota, the WCHA regular season champions who are returning to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2005.

The Golden Gophers, who lost just twice in their last 11 contests, again carry one of the nation’s youngest rosters, featuring two sophomores and a freshman in their top three scoring slots. However, those two second-years, Nick Bjugstad and Erik Haula, rank among the nation’s elite talents.

“Their style is similar to past years with their tremendous speed and skilled players,” Sneddon said. “But they combine that with a ton of grit and make it tough to play against them.”

But what separates this year’s version of Minnesota from the three prior teams coach Don Lucia failed to push into the NCAA tournament is their execution defensively.

“The difference this season for [the Golden Gophers] is that they have really improved from a defensive perspective,” Jackson said. “Obviously, the goaltending [of senior Kent Patterson] has helped them a great deal at being better in that area.”

The other key component for the five-time national champions is the contributions the squad gets from its veterans. Senior forward Jake Hansen is one of the team’s key leaders, having scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, in Minnesota’s 7-3 victory over Boston University in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, Patterson offers a calming sense of stability in goal, having manned the Golden Gophers’ net for all but 21 minutes so far this season.

“From Kent Patterson right on through their defense and forwards, Minnesota has done a good job of being committed to solid team defense,” Pearson said. “They have some very talented scorers and forwards up front, but what propelled them to finish first in our league is that commitment in their own end.”

With all the talent available for both York and Lucia, the Minnesota-Boston College semifinal matchup has the potential to take place at a whirlwind pace.

“I would expect a great game as far as the tempo,” Jackson said. “If there is a difference, I think Boston College has a little more offensive depth, but I think Minnesota makes up for that with how much they’ve improved defensively. The game is going to come down to which team does a better job managing the puck and not turning it over in key areas.”

Michigan State coach Tom Anastos agrees with Jackson, but gives the Eagles a slight edge due to their recent NCAA history.

“These are both really talented teams with lots of speed,” Anastos said. “Maybe Boston College has a little more NCAA tournament experience because [the Golden Gophers] are fielding a very young team.”

The winner of Thursday’s finale will take on either Union or Ferris State in the national championship game Saturday night. With all four schools claiming their league’s regular season championships, it stands to be a classic Frozen Four in Tampa.

“I give all the teams credit that are here this year,” Pearson said. “Each one of them won their conference championship, had good years from start to finish and topped it off by getting to the Frozen Four.”

Sneddon sees a great sign for college hockey that all four major conferences feature a team in this year’s field, with the potential for an East-West clash in the championship game.

“I think having the four [top] conferences represented is great for college hockey and it represents a great national tournament,” Sneddon said. “It should make for an excellent Frozen Four.”

Anastos, whose squad was the only team to face all four Frozen Four combatants this season, agrees with Sneddon, but also sees uniqueness in each semifinal matchup.

“There is a lot of parity in how the college game is played today and this year’s [field] reflects that,” Anastos said. “But I also think it is interesting that both semifinal games feature teams which play similar styles, [yet] play styles totally different than the teams in the other semifinal.” 

  • Barry Melrose

    “I think it is going to come down to which team scores more goals, or alternatively, which team does not score less goals”

    • Mr Hockey

      LOL.. I will just add this everybody says that the Gophers are young. Maybe in the yearbook but not in games played. Most of these players came from the USHL and have played a lot of big games. I don’t think this is a slam dunk for BC. Everybody says, ” Minnesota must play their best to beat BC”. I say BC must play their best to beat Minnesota. GO GOPHERS!!

      • MPLS Sioux

        What if neither play their best? Do they both lose then? A tie?

        • Mr Hockey

          If neither play their best they’ll be sitting next to the Sioux on Saturday night!

          • 2012 National Champs

            The SIOUX players are drinking and banging hot bitch@!……….you actually think they’re going to watch this Frozen Four?  Union couldn’t beat Division III Marian and Ferris State isn’t worth the watch.  Minnesota is a great team to watch and BC is a bunch of labia’s……..BC will lose by at least 3 goals and all those East Coast Fa@! can take their “cool” accents and pound eachother — and then think of another excuse why they can’t win the national title.  Hockey East would never compare to the WCHA — i love to see BC play in the WCHA — couldn’t take it….all the 5’8″ skaters on BC’s roster would get beat down.

          • nogofer

            I guess it WAS a slam dunk for BC…

    • jmsptrk


  • jmsptrk

    so jacked for this game. gonna be a doozy.

  • traveleast

    What time does North Dakota play??

    • Same31


      • SilenceIsGolden

        Thanks for answering a rhetorical question/joke.

    • 2012 National Champs

      with your mom’s fat titti@!????  let me know chowder…..

  • GophersNCAAChamps

    As a die hard gopher fan, I can’t wait to see this game.  I would do anything for the gophers to win but I think they have a great chance.  BC has not had very much competition in Hockey East this year and are due for a loss. The gophers are ready because the WCHA is hands down the best conference in college hockey with its depth.  Though BC destroyed Duluth, Duluth also finished the season with hardly any victories in its last 10 games.  They had no confidence in that game, so don’t be alarmed gopher fans. The gophers have had to win games all year rather than just at the end like BC.  The only disappointing thing is that this is the championship game. Union or Ferris State will never be able to keep up with the speed and depth that both the gophers and eagles have.  Gophers will win a very tight game because Patterson will stand on his head making saves.
    Go gophs!

    • SameCrapDifferentDay

      Here we go with the “WCHA is awesome” crap.  You do realize that two teams are playing this game, right?  It’s not one conference versus the other, at least on the ice.  I don’t think being in Hockey East has been limiting BC’s tournament success.

      • GophersNCAAChamps

        I do realize two teams are playing this game.  Sorry I didn’t make that clear.  I was trying to make it clear that these two teams are the best in the country.  That’s why this is the championship game.  I believe both teams deserve a spot in the title.  The point that I was trying to make is that the gophers have had to play through more because the WCHA has much more depth than hockey east.  I have such a great respect for BC and their program but I think they way the gophers have been playing and their goaltending they will come out on top.

        • Max

           BC has too much depth and will wear Minnesota down. BC will win by 2 or 3, including an empty netter, pulling away in the the third

          • Mike

            You mixed up the team names

          • Gophs gonna need a hug

            Oh, Mike, Mike, Mike….. such wit
            don’t be retahded
            but then again,
            why should you stop now?

            THAT just happened.

          • Mike

            Cmon, you can do better than that. The R word, really? Lame…

          • Max

             Its just regional idiom M-Dawg used to emphasize the homer aspect of the entire conversation to date, highlighted by the phonetic spelling rather than the accurate spelling.

            THAT just happened too

          • Mike

            Yawn. Nothing just happened.

          • Max

            thanks Mensa-Mike
            that was irony…

          • Max

             6-1 just happened

          • nogofer

            Choke…  Embarrassed on National TV…    BC didn’t just beat you, they showed mn what hockey should be.

          • Keebs11

            I don’t get where this BC depth argument keeps coming from?  UM has 4 players with 40 points or more.  BC has 2.   UM has 7 players with more than 30 points.  BC has 6.  UM has 9 players with 20 points or more.  BC has 10.  If BC has more depth it’s because your fourth line that wont play more than 2 shifts in the game is barely better than ours.  Good luck with that empty netter.

          • Max

             you get it now?

        • Terrierhockey12

          I can’t believe this is coming from a fan of the team that lost to both Vermont and Northeastern this year. I would like to note than neither Vermont nor Northeastern made the hockey east post-season tournament yet they still beat your leauge’s 1st place gophers.

          Please point out to me why you believe the WCHA is so deep cause I just don’t see it. Statistically half of your teams (6) have an overall win percentage less than 0.500. Mind you one of your teams (St. Cloud) made 0.500 exactly. Half of Hockey East (5 teams) also were below 0.500. It seems equal to me.

          At least on any given day our worst teams (Vermont and Northeastern) can beat your best team (your Gophers). I’d say that helps in my argument that the WCHA isn’t as great as its fans want you to think. 

          “the gophers are as ready as any other team because the WCHA is hands down just as average as any other conference in college hockey with its depth.” 

          Fixed it for you. You’re welcome.

          GO BC

          BU Fan.

          • Goldy

            Goldy 7, bu 3. Nice to know that on any given NCAA tournament game this year a rodent can round house a terrier.

          • ThankTheLordTheGamesAreToday

            How is this important?  You won your first round game?  Wow, someone alert the media.  PS: I’m not a WCHA or a Hockey East fan.

          • Philipvanschepen

            Generally, the bottom half of every league is below 0.500. That’s why they are in the bottom half. If they won more games than they lost, they wouldn’t be in the bottom half. 
             I was at both the Vermont and Northeastern games. Vermont was early in the season.  The Gophers dressed 13 freshmen and sophomores, and they hadn’t really played anybody up to that point. Against Northeastern, Patterson had a rare bad night. Both bad losses, but they have grown a lot since then.
            BC is favored for a reason, but so was North Dakota last year.  Go Gophs!

          • Goldy


            Try and keep a few of your boys out of jail and you may have a chance..

          • 2012 National Champs

            Nice……7-3 is legit……


          • WCHA HOCKEY

            This is coming from a team who SWEPT the National Defending Champs on their own ice, hard too do, not to mention had the first sweep against No Dak that they have had in years. Dominated the power house BU and No Dak with no troubles in the Regional’s. Not to mention the talent that comes out of Minnesota is way better then Massachusetts has ever seen, look at Bostons roster, 16 players not from Mass, 20 for BU. UM 4 and one of them has lived here since 14 , UMD 8, shows Minnesota can hold more of our own weight then then Mass can.

            Go GOPHERS

            Gopher Fan.

          • Guest

            Ok, and players from Canada are better than players from Minnesota. Whats your point here?

          • WCHA HOCKEY

            36 > 11????

          • UselessStatistics

            Unless you plan on stacking the 36 trophies on the ice in front of the goal they aren’t going to help you win a championship.

          • Kreider4mvp

            This is such a toolish comment. Do you seriously root for the whole conference? Besides, Boston teams have won 3 of the last 4 titles but you can keep hanging your hat on all those WCHA titles years ago. Ugh

          • nogofer

            He doesn’t speak for me…

          • Mike

            Do I really need to point out AGAIN that for the VT and NW losses, the Gophs top players were in the Junior Nationals? So yeah, they beat our B or C squad. Not a bad accomplishment for those programs, but the Gophs are just a LITTLE tougher with the A squad on the ice. 

          • Guest

            You sure bout that? They played VT in October…

          • nogofer

            So where was the A-Team?  The concession stand?

          • RvrHwk 97

            Well said! The fact that home ice for the first round of hockey east playoffs was not decided until the final saturday night at about 9:00 says nothing about the depth and parity of HEA I guess. Maybe they don’t follow any other leagues over there in WCHA country.

            Go Eagles!

          • 2012 National Champs

            What time does BU play again??  Oh yeah, your worst teams beat our best teams, right??  ok — I can take that……but BC would never give any “below .500” WCHA team a chance to beat them because they’re too busy playing crap like UMass-Lowell, Yale, Providence and Merrimack — Are you f’in kidding me??  good argument…..oh yeah, take your boyfriends di#! out of your mouth and look at this post……..did you really say “GO BC?” — i’ve lived in Mass for awhile and i’d never believe that a BU fan would ever say something like that………you should post a rainbow flag next to your name……wow.

          • FlagYourPosts

            Go check out Minnesota’s non-conference schedule and get back to me.

          • nogofer

            OK, next…

        • SameCrapDifferentDay

          Even if it’s true that Minnesota “had to play through more” is irrelevant.

        • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

           You sir, are a buffoon.

        • Jj Vanny

          gophs need to play 3 solid periods not 2 like alot of games this year.nd for starters.bc will score more than the sioux did in 1 period if they dont..hope they do play 3 win or lose..

    • Billandrae

      The teams in Hockey East that finished last and next to last (Vermont and Northeastern) both beat Minnesota this year. Vermont won only three games total in Hockey East. If BC didn’t have “very much competition in Hockey East” then what does that say about Minnesota who had a tough time with the bottom dwellers from H.E. ? 

      • Philipvanschepen

        The Gophers took care of BU 7-3. BU took 2 of 3 from BC. It’s who you beat last that counts.

        • Boringboring

          Using the transitive property I could justify Alabama-Huntsville is the national champ.

          • Jason

            please do. 

          • Boringboring

            UAH beat Denver, Denver beat BC
            UAH beat Denver, Denver beat Minnesota twice
            UAH beat Denver, Denver beat Union
            It’s going to take me longer to work on Ferris since they didn’t play the WCHA this year except for Denver in the tournament.  /sarcasm

          • Terrierhockey12

            Just noticed that Alabama-Hunstville only won 2 games this year. Looks like both wins were against WCHA teams. UAH beat Nebraska-Omaha on 12/2/11 and they beat Denver on 1/6/11. 

            No disrespect to UAH but that’s embarrassing for the WCHA

            Also here’s the chain where Alabama-Huntsville beat Ferris State

            Ferris State lost to Alaska-> Alaska lost to Alaska-Anchorage-> Alaska-Anchorage lost to Denver-> Denver lost to Alabama Huntsville.

            By the transitive property I now name Alabama Huntsville your 2012 NCAA champions!

        • Guest

          They scored 2 empty netters in that game, stop acting like BU couldn’t even skate with them.

      • Agassieven

        Sorry Boss.  But the Gophers big boys were out for the World Jrs for the NE game..  The Gophers are night and day without Bjustad..  Think 3 of Minny loses were with Bjustad hurt or at Jr.  

        It’s all Good.. The think it’s hands down winner of the night game Thursday will skate with the Trophy Sat night..  Just hope it a great game..

        • Mike

          Just let them keep thinking that they will be facing the Gophs B squad. They’re in for a surprise.

          • Billandrae

            No one is thinking that B.C. will face a ‘B’ squad. Minnesota has a great team and all us B.C. fans recognize that. The issue is whether the WCHA is a ‘dominant’ league and results do not bear that out; otherwise Minnesota, the first place team in the WCHA should not have lost to the bottom feeders of H.E. no matter Bjustad or not. On balance, things look pretty balanced between the leagues these days and that is good for college hockey.

          • Mike


        • Terrierhockey12

          I can say the same thing. BU’s big boys weren’t in town to play Minnesota. One left to play hockey in Canada, one will likely have all charges dropped ala duke lacrosse, and one bad defenseman is likely guilty but was bad anyway. You guys beat our B or C team etc. The BU team that went 2 for 3 reg season against BC was a different team than the team you scored 2 empty netters on.

          Check the confereces that have won recent NCAA championships. Your conference isn’t coming close to overachieving. Also note that each division is represented in this years frozen four. WCHA isn’t special.

        • Billandrae

          We’re talking the last and next to last bottom dwellers of H.E. beat Minnesota and your excuse is that the Gophers didn’t have Bjustad? That’s pretty funny…

          • Jason

            It wasn’t just him, I believe Rau wasn’t there as well. If you took away BC’s top two players they wouldn’t play the same. Sure, they have other scorers but it’s all about chemistry between your other linemates and when you screw those up by not having certain people things can go badly. 

    • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

      Here we go again.  More WCHA is the bestest league ever garbage.

      The rest is also foolish nonsense.  BC SOS = 5.  Minnesota = 23.  But the WCHA is so awesome so they are battle tested and BC is not.  Hmmmm.



        36 >11 Which is the number of Naty championships the WCHA has to  the Hockey East. 7 > 3 is the difference between head to head match ups between the WCHA and Hockey East Just another uneducated College Hockey wanna be fan. Numbers don’t lie.

        • EndOfDiscussion

          Past doesn’t predict the future.

          And WCHA has been around twice as long as Hockey East.

        • Jerry York for President!

          7-3 difference between WCHA and HE teams? Really???

          Didn’t BC go to North Dakota and WIN the Ice-Breaker Classic, a tournament featuring 4 NCAA-Tournament teams?
          I do recall Denver coming east and splitting with BC and BU.
          Didn’t lowly (I only say that because they fiished 10th in Hockey East) Vermont go to Minnesota and split a series?
          Did BC beat Michigan Tech in GLI?
          Didn’t the other non-Hockey East playoff team (Northeastern) win the Mariucci Holiday Tournament over Minnesota at Minnesota?

          Looks like you’re the uneducated college hockey wanna be fan!!!

          That’s 5 wins right there, then the BC-UMD / Minn-BU split in NCAA play.

          • WCHA HOCKEY

            Your going off way different facts than I was but ok? 

        • FactsAreFunnyThings

          Numbers don’t lie?  They also don’t prove what you say they prove.  People are talking about the games THIS YEAR.  You’re spouting facts about ANCIENT HISTORY.

          And by the way, a third of those titles were won before many midwest and eastern schools had hockey programs that were remotely competitive or even existed.  You’re counting Michigan’s titles while they in the WCHA and BU’s while they were in the ECAC.  Why don’t you start with 1985 when Hockey East was formed?  10-7 for the WCHA.  Closer than 36-11, eh? Also in that period: 8 for CCHA, 2 for ECAC.

          • WCHA HOCKEY

            I counted ALL the teams that are in the Hockey East now throughout history including Boston College too??? Still I believe that 10 is bigger than 7. Whats your point?

          • FactsAreFunnyThings

            My point was obvious.  Recent history (1985 to present) is much more even than the pre-Hockey East era.  Duh.

            And citing total titles over 60+ years as a retort to an argument about this year’s strength of schedule makes no sense at all.  Try harder next time.

          • WCHA HOCKEY

            Close but no cigar

          • FactAreFunnyThings

            No matter how much you try to deflect, screaming “more titles” is irrelevant to the original point made by “Blinky The Wonder Chimp” about strength of schedule in 2012.  Try taking a course in logic.

          • SadTrombone

            Close but no cigar?  OK so you admit that it’s close and that you were trying to distort things by citing facts from 30 to 60 years ago.

    • cthompson1983

      I strongly disagree with you GophersNCAAChamps Hockey East is the Best and Strongest Conference in College Hockey.  Boston College is not the unanimous number 1 team in the Country for no reason.  Boston College is the most complete and deepest team in College Hockey.  Boston College is the best team in the Country.  Boston College is going to win the National Championship.  I am so sick of all the WCHA Fans arrogance we are better than everybody and every other conference.  I am also sick and tired of WCHA Fans whining, complaining, bitching about how the WCHA deserved more number 1 seeds.  I am going to say it again Hockey East is the best Conference in College Hockey.  Boston College is the most complete and deepest team in College Hockey.  Boston College is the best team in College Hockey and Boston College is going to win the National Championship.  I am not taking anything away from Minnesota they are a very good team as well.  My opinion is Boston College is going to win the National Championship because they are the most complete and deepest team, and the best team in College Hockey.

      Go Boston College Eagles!

      • Jason

        TIL Hockey East is a one team conference.

        • Terrierhockey12

          Looking at the frozen four participants, so is the WCHA

        • Billandrae

          The WCHA is a no team in the final conference.

    • nogofer

      I said BC 4 or 5 to 1.  I didn’t anticipate the gofers scoring on themselves!

  • Ken

    Lets go Eagles! Should be a wild game. Minnesota has a great hockey program and have been dominating all year long. Its too bad this isn’t the saturday game but hey at least it comes 2 days earlier! 

  • GoldyTheGreat

    Pearson says that BC is the most talented team from top to bottom in the country..? Then the next paragraph talks about how they haven’t done it with elite offensive talents like in years past.. Ha. BC has 6 players with 34 or more points… MN also has 6 with 35 or more points, 7 with 30 or more and 9 with 22 or more. 

    BC’s scoring differential 147/ 87 for a +60
    Minnesota’s 154/ 93 for a +61

    Not trying to take anything away from BC but both teams are outstanding and electric and this will be a very evenly matched game.

    • cthompson1983

       Boston College/Minnesota will be a great game.  Boston College and Minnesota in my opinion are the 2 best teams in College Hockey.  GoldyTheGopher I would never disrespect or take anything away from Minnesota.  After saying that Boston College is not the unanimous number 1 team in the Country for no reason.  My opinion is Boston College is the most complete and deepest team in College Hockey.  I personally think Boston College is going to win the National Championship.

  • NotMike..


    • Mike

      Haha, nice. Everyone’s saying it now!

  • JakeB

    The bottom line… If I were either team, in either game, I’d be plenty worried about the other.

  • EagleinExile

    Damn straight Jake. It’s Tournament Time, people! All that “our league is the best” and “our players are more experienced” crap does not mean anything. Anyone could win this thing. While I think BC is the best, it will all play out on the ice. A few years back, a BC team had no business making the Final against Wisconsin, and it was a great game. The next year, a less talented Mich St team managed to steal one from the same BC team, and the following year heavy favorite BC had to hold off an out of nowhere, great ND squad. While the WCHA and Hockey East certainly have the history to claim greatness, history is written on the ice and between the pipes, go Eagles!

  • Philipvanschepen

    90 degrees in Tampa probably means slow ice. Slight advantage Gophers. The key is Minnesota’s blue line. They had a tendency to turn the puck over early. In the WCHA tourney they couldn’t break the puck out of their zone, but in the regional they looked great.

  • From what I have seen from both teams, it seems the Gophers have less scoring depth but their what depth they have is far better than BC’s top lines. Milner seems to be playing better than any goaltender that I have seen, however Patterson can dominate as well. I think it will come down to goal tending or some garbage goals.
    As for the Gophers being a young team, they seldom ever have an experienced club as the Pros pluck most them before they even sniff their senior year.

  • Guest

    WCHA Fans < NY Yankees fans

  • TheDogHouse

    Hockey East looks pretty weak… You Gophers almost had them there.