Counting down to national semifinals in college hockey on Thursday ...
Meet a Gopher: Nick Bjugstad, a 6-5 sophomore center, leads the team in scoring with 25 goals and has 42 points, which ranks third on the team behind Erik Haula and Kyle Rau.
He is a first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers and can dominate a game at times. He was injured on Feb. 25 at Nebraska Omaha, when a big Mavericks defenseman sent him into the boards hard. He missed the third period of that game and the Gophers' next game, on March 2 versus Wisconsin.
He has only two goals, one an empty-netter, in six games since then but had a strong third period in the Gophers' 5-2 victory over North Dakota in the title game of the West Regional. So that is a good sign.
The Gophers will certainly need him at his best against Boston College.
Meet an opponent: Freshman left wing Johnny Gaudreau. He has been named Hockey East's rookie of the month for March when he had four goals and 10 assists in eight games.
Gophers coach Don Lucia calls Gaurdreau a slippery, skilled player. Earlier, he was named the MVP of Hockey East's playoffs. He had three goals and four assists in four BC victories.
He has 20 goals and 21 goals for 41 points for BC in 42 games..
Teammate Parker Milner, the Eagles' junior goalie, is Hockey East's player of the month in March. His statistics were unreal. He was 8-0-0 with a 0.88 goals-against average and a .971 save percentage.
Frozen Four fact: The Gophers won their 13th MacNaughton Cup this season. Eleven of the previous 12 times they were the WCHA regular season champions, they also advanced to the NCAA tournament but never won it.
They lost in the regional semifinals twice, in the regional final twice, in the national semifinals two and in the national championship game five times.
Their most recent loss in the national title game as a MacNaughton Cup champion was in 1989 when the Gophers fell to Harvard 4-3 in overtime.
The quote: "It was pretty surreal at first," Bjugstad said about the Gophers advancing to the Frozen Four. "But now that I kind of think about it, it is pretty cool. We are all excited to get down to Tampa and hopefully get some wins in there."