Frozen Four: Gophers relishing underdog role

It's been Boston College this and BC that in advance of the Frozen Four. With all due respect, the Gophers are ready for the faceoff.

TAMPA, FLA. -- Erik Haula is jittery and cranky after a 10-day layoff. Haula, the Gophers' leading scorer, wants to play Boston College already -- rather than continue to read and hear about the high-flying Eagles.

He is about to finally get his wish.

The Gophers and Eagles will meet Thursday in the second semifinal of the Frozen Four. It is being called a matchup of hockey royalty; between them, the two programs have nine NCAA titles and 41 previous Frozen Four appearances. Ferris State and Union, in the other semifinal, are both making their first Frozen Four appearance.

"Everyone has the jitters right now," Haula said this week, before venting his frustration. "I am actually kind of sick of all this stuff going around here. I just want to get in the game and start playing. You know, all this hype that [the Eagles] are getting. There are four good teams in this tournament."

Perhaps, but BC is the clear favorite. Gophers coach Don Lucia agrees and makes this analogy: Boston College, he said, has the aura of Tigers Woods in his heyday. Given the choice of Tiger at his peak or the rest of the field in a tournament, Lucia said, most people would have still picked Woods.

The Eagles have won two of the past four NCAA titles. On top of that, BC is the No. 1 overall seed and is riding a 17-game winning streak -- the longest in Jerry York's storied coaching career at the Jesuit-run school in Chestnut Hill, Mass. To get here, the Eagles shut out defending national champion Minnesota Duluth.

"It's kind of nice to be in the underdog role for a change," said Lucia, whose team is also peaking but hasn't been to the Frozen Four since 2005. "Let's put the pressure on them. I like the way we are playing. ... And we know this is not the best-of-seven [series], it is the best of one. It is a one-game shot."

That thought offers comfort.

"In college hockey anyone can beat anyone any night," Gophers captain Taylor Matson said. "BC has a hot goaltender [and] their defensive corps is really strong as well, but we have dealt with top teams throughout the whole season."

Two balanced teams

Lucia said the Eagles are unique. "They are skilled and they are big," he said. "They have that combination which most teams don't. Three lines that can score. They have a 20-goal scorer on ever line. Who has that?"

Well, the Gophers come close. They have size in players such as forwards Nick Bjugstad, Zach Budish and defenseman Seth Helgeson and Mark Alt. They have speed with forwards Kyle Rau, Erik Haula and Nate Condon scattered among the top three lines. Bjugstad and Haula, the sophomore centers on the top two lines, are the Gophers' 20-goal scorers, and the reinvigorated third line -- with freshman Travis Boyd the past two games -- is coming off a three-goal performance in the region final.

"It is going to come down to the little things," Haula said.

Here are four keys to a Gophers victory:

• Win most of the puck battles. "That is more important than maybe the big hit," Lucia said. He said the Gophers have tapered like runners and swimmers do before a big meet and should be mentally and physically recharged.

• Take care of the puck. "We have to make sure we get pucks behind their 'D,'" Lucia said. "We cannot turn pucks over and allow them to transition because of their team speed." If the Eagles are in the Gophers' end, Lucia said, "we have to make sure to get in there and hit and pin and eliminate BC."

• Win the goalie duel. BC goalie Parker Milner has not given up a goal in more than seven periods of ice time. "We are hoping he is due to let one in," Lucia said. Gophers goalie Kent Patterson was the MVP of the West Regional; he can steal a game and usually plays his best when he is busy. Lack of shots should not be a concern for Patterson against BC.

• Score first -- or at least second. Boston College is 28-3-1 this season when scoring first. Lucia said if BC does score first, the Gophers need to get the second goal of the game.

Asked if he had a pregame pep talk planned, Lucia was blunt. "If you have to give the big time pep talk this time of the year," he said, "you are in sorry shape. The guys are pretty motivated."

As is Lucia.

"It is hard to get to a Frozen Four," he said. "It is hard to win a semifinal game. This is our chance. When you are a freshman or sophomore there is no guarantee you will get this opportunity again."




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Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia 2 Top 8th Inning
Oakland 0
Toronto 5 Bottom 7th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Arizona 1 Top 8th Inning
Colorado 5
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
Louisville 28 3rd Qtr
North Carolina 27 3rd Qtr 6:03
East Carolina 42
Army 21 4th Qtr 4:41
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 19 4th Qtr 12:14
(21) BYU 27
(6) Texas A&M 51 4th Qtr 7:55
Rutgers 31 4th Qtr 7:31
Navy 17
Central Mich 10 4th Qtr
Kansas 10
Florida 21 3rd Qtr 0:33
(3) Alabama 28
Texas State 14 Delayed 13:35
Illinois 6
Fla Atlantic 16 4th Qtr 13:49
Wyoming 17
Indiana 17 3rd Qtr 6:46
(18) Missouri 17
San Jose St 7 4th Qtr 12:45
Minnesota 17
Massachusetts 0 3rd Qtr 0:17
Penn State 48
Georgia State 0 1st Qtr 2:30
Washington 0
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 2nd Half 44:55
Portland 1
Houston 6:00 PM
New England 6:30 PM
San Jose 6:30 PM
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
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Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




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