Wow, what a day for NCAA hockey at the Frozen Four. We had two really awesome games in Tampa Bay yesterday. We had Quinnipiac, the No. 1 overall seed, just barely getting past Boston College 3-2 in the first game. In the second game, we had North Dakota scoring with just under a minute left to beat Denver 4-2. They added an empty netter at the end for the two goal victory. I don't think we could have asked for anything better from the Frozen Four semi finals. This is just means that the championship game will be just as awesome and intense!
As I said in the opening, Quinnipiac took down Boston College 3-2. I think I was pretty spot on in my prediction of a 4-2 Quinnipiac winner. I figured that it would be a close game. I thought that Quinnipiac would get an empty netter, that is why I thought they would score 4 goals. Quinnipiac was the better team and I think we all knew that going in but credit goes to the Boston College Eagles for giving them a hell of a fight to the finish.
Kevin McKernan got the opening goal for Quinnipiac just 2:31 into the first period. It was a great way for the Bobcats to start the game. Not so much what Boston College was looking for but hey it's a long game and there was time for a come back.
Quinnipiac's second goal of the period came just under five minutes later. The goal was scored by Andrew Taverner and he was assisted by Travis St. Denis. The first period was not even half over and the Bobcats had jumped out to a two goal lead. After the second goal, Boston College settled things down and the teams went into the locker room at the intermission, 2-0 Bobcats.
Alex Tuch wasted little time as the second period began to get Boston College on the board. His goal 23 seconds into the period made the score 2-1 Quinnipiac. He was assisted on the goal by Colin White and Casey Fitzgerald. It was a nice response from the Eagles and exactly how you wanted to start the second period.
Unfortunately for Boston College, Quinnipiac had other ideas. Just over four minutes later Landon Smith scored on the power play for the Bobcats. He was assisted by Tim Clifton and Travis St. Denis. It was Travis St. Denis' second assist on the night. Smith's power play goal was the end of the scoring in the second leaving the score, 3-1, Bobcats.
Like Al Michaels once said, "And they refuse to go quietly," Boston College was not done. At the 15:44 mark of the third period, Ryan Fitzgerald scored on the power play for the Eagles. He was assisted by Ian McCoshen and Teddy Doherty. This made the score 3-2 Bobcats. The Eagles could not put another one home and Quinnipiac took the game 3-2!
The second game of the night was another great one. As North Dakota beat Denver 4-2. I thought it would be a higher scoring game but I cannot complain the way the game turned out. The teams set a record only taking a combined eight shots in the first period. Just like the first game, I think everyone knew North Dakota was the better team on paper, like Quinnipiac, it was just a question of if they could execute and get the job done.
Like I said, there were only eight shots in the first period. There were also no goals. This should not surprise because these teams know each other so well. This was the sixth contest between the two sides. Maybe nerves and excitement got the best of the teams in the first period and that is why there were no goals.
The second period was the Drake Caggiula show. The North Dakota senior scored his first goal of the period at the 1:03 mark. He was assisted by Brock Boeser and Coltyn Sanderson. Caggiula followed up with his second goal of the period just over five minutes later. The goal was unassisted and just over six minutes into the second period North Dakota had jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The lead would remain in tack as the second period came to an end.
Denver finally got their answer 2:50 into the third period from Will Butcher. His goal made it 2-1, and gave the Pioneers new life in the third period. He was assisted by Grant Arnold and Matt Marinew. It was just what the doctor ordered for Denver, get a quick goal coming out of the gates of the third period and get your legs back under you.
Denver tied the game eight minutes later on a goal from Matt Vanvoorhis. He was assisted by Gabe Levin and Blake Hillman. So, just a little over half way through the third period we have a 2-2 game. It looked like Denver had all the momentum on their side.
Things stayed tied until just under a minute left when Nick Schmaltz scored for North Dakota. The Blackhawks' 2014, first round draft pick, got the go ahead goal for the Fighting Hawks at the 19:03 mark of the third period. He was assisted by Brock Boeser and Drake Caggiulla. It was Boeser's second assist and Caggiula's third point on the night. North Dakota added an empty netter from Rhett Gardner for the 4-2 victory!
I cannot wait for the championship game. It will be Quinnipiac vs. North Dakota on Saturday at 8 PM. It will be televised on ESPN2 or available on WatchESPN. Nothing like two No. 1 seeds going at it, with everything thing on the line. I will post my preview and prediction for the championship on Saturday! Have a great night!