Actually, today should be a red-letter day for college hockey fans in Minnesota. All five Minnesota Division I men's teams will be in action, and two of them – Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth – can earn trips to the Frozen Four with victories today.
The action starts at noon (Central time) in Albany, N.Y., where second-seeded St. Cloud State (17-10) meets No. 3 Boston University (10-4-1) in a Northeast Regional semifinal in a game that will air on ESPNews. The winner will meet Boston College on Sunday in the regional final after the top-seeded Eagles advanced on a no-contest when Notre Dame had to exit the tournament because of COVID-19 issues. The Huskies-Terriers matchup should provide an interesting East vs. West comparison, with St. Cloud State finishing second in the NCHC standings while Boston U. taking second in the Hockey East regular season.
At 4 p.m. Central, you'll need a TV and a streaming device to keep track of a pair of Minnesota teams. In the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn., Bemidji State will meet Massachusetts in the East Regional final and a trip to the Frozen Four in a game that will air on ESPNU. The fourth-seeded Beavers (16-9-3) stunned No. 1 seed Wisconsin 6-3 on Friday, and the game was more lopsided than the score might indicate. Bemidji State had leads of 2-0 and 5-1 before the Badgers rallied late on Cole Caufield's 29th and 30th goals of the season. Goals by Elias Rosen with 16 seconds left in the first period to make it 2-0 and Owen Sillinger short-handed with 1:21 left in the second to make it 4-1 were huge momentum-builders for the Beavers. Against UMass, Bemidji State will try to make their second Frozen Four under coach Tom Serratore, whose program usually flies under the radar. As Lou Nanne prophetically mentioned earlier this week, "Nobody's going to enjoy playing Bemidji, I can tell you that.''
Also at 4 p.m., you'll need a streaming device to watch second-seeded Minnesota State Mankato vs. No. 3 seed Quinnipiac in the West Regional semifinals in Loveland on ESPN3. The Mavericks (20-4-1) have been a businesslike, focused team after losing 5-1 to Northern Michigan in last week's WCHA tournament semifinals. "We're just trying to get back to our game,'' Mavericks All-America goalie Dryden McKay said. "We felt like we came out slow against Northern, and our identity is playing fast and playing hard. We've got to have a good start and have a consistent effort for the full 60 minutes.'' In Quinnipiac (17-7-4), the Mavericks face a program under coach Rand Pecknold that's sent teams to the national championship game in 2013 and 2016. Leading the Bobcats is senior forward Odeen Tufto, the former St. Thomas Academy standout whose 38 assists lead the nation and whose 45 points rank second.
A second chance Saturday for a Minnesota team to land in the Frozen Four starts at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU, when third-seeded Minnesota Duluth faces NCHC rival and top-seeded North Dakota in the Midwest Regional final in Fargo. The Bulldogs (14-10-2) moved into the final when second-seeded Michigan was forced to drop out Friday because of COVID-19 issues. No. 1-ranked North Dakota (22-5-1) advanced to the final with a 5-1 rout of American International. Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota haven't met since a pair of games in the NCHC's Omaha Pod in December. Those were two of the best the league had offer during that time, with Cole Koepke's goal with 3:25 left in the third period enabling UMD to secure a 2-2 tie and set up a shootout win. In the second meeting, the Fighting Hawks won 2-1 on Grant Mismash's goal with 48 seconds left in the third period.
Saturday's finale at 9 p.m. on ESPNU features the top-seeded Gophers against Nebraska Omaha in the West Regional semifinals. Minnesota (23-6) won the Big Ten tournament title with three victories in South Bend, Ind., and hopes to take momentum from that in its first NCAA tournament game 2017 and its first appearance under third-year coach Bob Motzko. The Gophers have relied on balanced scoring all season and standout goaltending from Jack LaFontaine, one of three finalists for the Mike Richter Award as the nation's top goalie. Nebraska Omaha (14-10-1) should be used to facing high-level competition, having closed the regular season with four games against North Dakota, in which the Mavericks went 1-3. Winner of this game faces the Minnesota State-Quinnipiac winner at 7 p.m. Sunday.