Gophers coach Don Lucia said he has watched Boston University play games -- on TV or tape -- against Maine and Boston College this season.
"Typical BU team," Lucia said Monday on his radio show on 1500-AM. "They can skate. They are tough. They have skill. They have a real good back line with their defensemen. Their goaltender won a national title as a freshmen as did all these seniors."
BU has five seniors. The two key ones are goalie Kieran Millan and forward Chris Connolly, the team captain.
As a freshman in 2008-09, Millan was the Hockey Commissioners' Association national rookie of the year and made the 2009 Frozen Four all-tournament team. He had a 28-2-3 record his first college season.
Connolly, of Duluth, Minn., made the all-Hockey East rookie team and scored the first goal in BU's win over Miami in the NCAA title game and had an assist on the game-winner in overtime. He had 30 points his first season with the Terriers.
The other three seniors did not play at all -- defenseman Ryan Ruikka -- or pretty little. Forward Kevin Gilroy had two goals in 12 goals while Grant Rollheiser, a 6-foot-4 backup goalie, started 10 games and had a 6-4-1 record.
The Terriers' season hit a few bumps recently. They are 2-3 in their last five games. They have played a lot of close game, going 5-4-2 in 11 overtime games.
"I'm impressed" with BU, Lucia said on the radio. "Their power play is good. They've got good skill in their top couple lines. Those Boston kids, they are tough kids. They are strong physically. They are good skating. We have as difficult a first-round matchup as we could have."
DIRTY AREAS A FOCUS
Lucia said the Gophers on Saturday and Monday worked on battling around the blue paint, on offense and defense.
"The guys got a little bit tentative in that third period," Lucia said, referring to the Gophers 6-3 loss to North Dakota last Friday in the Final Five semifinals, "and all of a sudden we gave up that area of the rink [on defense] when we hadn't most of the year. We hadn't the first two periods of that game.
"From the offensive standpoint, you have to get there. It doesn't hurt to shoot from bad angles, It doesn't hurt to shoot from behind the net at a goaltender's pad just trying to create offense any way you possibly can."
WCHA TEAMS IN THE NCAA
Lucia said the two WCHA teams in other regionals both have a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.
"UMD is a darn good team," he said. "UMD can beat anybody. So it will be interesting to see what happens if they play BC in the finals."
Boston College is the top seed in the regional at Worcester, Mass. The Bulldogs, who are the defending NCAA champions, play Maine first but could meet BC if they win their first-round game.
Lucia said he is worried about Denver in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, Wis., because the Pioneers played six games in nine days in the WCHA playoffs -- three games in three days in the first round before outlasting Wisconsin and three games in three days in the Final Five. Three of DU's games went into overtime.
"They [the Pioneers] will have a chance to come out of that region," Lucia said, "but Michigan is probably the favorite."
What about the Gophers in the West Regional, in which conference rival North Dakota is the top seed, this weekend? "I just hope our guys play their best game of the year this weekend," he said, "and then you can live with the results."
Stop by startribune.com/sports for a live chat on the Gophers and the West Regional at noon today [Thursday].